It's time to visit the mountain pastures... Come and meet the farmers and see their herds grazing in flower-festooned alpine meadows.
When the good weather returns and the last snow disappears, it’s time for livestock farmers to turn out their herds to graze for the summer. Head for the mountain pastures! This allows the animals to escape from the summer heat of the valleys where the fields can then be set aside to provide hay for the following winter. The mountains offer pleasantly cool temperatures and, more importantly, an abundance of lovely green pastures containing a whole diversity of flora. No wonder those summer cheeses taste so good! The climb with the herds to the summer pastures is a very important event to farmers and their families. It is also an opportunity for you to share this moment of festive warmth with them…
Through the Saveurs des Aravis network, willing farmers invite you to experience this tradition with them. Depending on the farm and the herd’s summer destination, the big day will be sometime in May or June. Follow a herd of cattle, goats or sheep to the mountain pastures, accompanied by the sound of the ceremonial cowbells used for the occasion. When you get up there, you’ll have a chance to visit the farm, learn more about the work of mountain farmers and sample their delicious produce!
Lorette Farm on the Beauregard plateau, Les Noisetiers farm cooperative on the Bauges side of Semnoz, the Eau Froide pasture at the Lake Annecy Sources, the mountain farm of La Tête in Manigod or the Corbassières Farm in La Clusaz. All of these are great places to stop for a break and learn about mountain farming, see the cows or goats being milked and enjoy a delicious meal prepared from local products! On a hike to the top of Sulens, you can chat with the people attending the Grande Montagne mountain farming school. From May to September, they’re here every day to share their expertise with visitors.
Are you one of those hikers always in search of a new challenge? Then don’t miss this summer’s new opportunity with the mountain guides bureau of Grand-Bornand. Head for a mountain chalet to herd the goats into the barn and watch them being milked, after a maximum 1½ hour walk. Your efforts will be rewarded when you join the farmers for a delicious afternoon snack and a superb view of the mountains.
And for those who prefer an even more immersive experience, the mountain refuges of Aulp de Marlens, Sur le Freu and Servaz invite you to stay for a night, or longer if you fancy it. Here’s your chance to experience life on a mountain farm and take part in the daily activities. A whole programme!
If you missed the opportunity to experience the climb to mountain pastures, all is not lost! Another traditional and festive event takes place in Annecy on the 2nd Saturday of October: the descent from the mountain pastures. Cattle, sheep and other animals parade through the streets, guided by the farmers in traditional dress. The day’s programme features folklore groups, Alpine horns, ancient occupation demonstrations and tastings of local products. A key event that showcases local produce and plunges you into local traditions.