End of summer fête

Inflatable cows

Oops! One of the cows falls over backwards!

Strange parade

Human-shaped fireworks burn while the parade of weird objects continues.

Burning cow outline and band

Now it's the elevated cow's turn to burn, with band looking on

Fireworks and people

Statue-still people from the parade now standing on the roof too, including one with a disturbingly pointy hat.

Despite the ongoing warm weather, the summer season in the Alps has come to an end, coinciding, not coincidentally, with school holidays. Le Grand Bornand likes to end the season with a fête. Of course, I went. Surprisingly, the crowds were bigger than for le Tour de France, and parents were made to park their baby buggies in a special baby buggy area before continuing to the heart of the entertainment, holding their babies. Seats were not allowed. Just after none o’clock, when darkness had fallen, the streetlamps were turned off, everyone was told to stand, and the fun began.

It started off well enough, with these two giant inflatable cows lobbing themselves towards each other, forcing the crowd to part (this is why chairs and baby buggies were not allowed). After a few cow tips, they met, hugged (or wrestled?) and then the fireworks started. In the foreground, I noticed the live band standing on top of build, beating their drums to some Spanish tune. I wondered if any of the other countries I’ve lived in would allow a band to stand near the edge of a tall building with no apparent safety equipment. I love this country!

The inflatable cows disappeared and these strange shapes on sticks started parading through the crowd, choosing their own path. This involved small fireworks on the way through, and once again, I found myself wondering if this would happen elsewhere. Fireworks in the shape of people were lit against a wall, and the band played on. What did all this mean? What were the strange parading objects meant to represent? As the odd parade banged, burst and snaked through the crowd, one of my friends, who had seen last year’s end of summer fête said to me: “It’s nowhere near as random as last year.” I’d really like to know how it could be any more random than it was.

The shed behind me suddenly made a noise. Actually, there were fireworks on its roof. I was right under these great, low-exploding fireworks that really made me feel like I was engulfed by sparks on every side. It was magnificent! All concerns of randomness went while the fireworks continued for much longer than anyone expected.

The grand finale was even better. At first, I thought something had gone wrong. One of the fireworks on top of the shed didn’t seem to go off, but it seemed to ignite a neighbouring firework which then flew directly toward the band. I envisioned the band catching fire if they didn’t run away quickly. However, all fears were allayed when the firework actually flew directly behind the band, and right onto the giant Catherine wheels which had been set up behind them. Bang, bang, bang: off they go, and nobody needs to sue France for death, burning or falling from buildings. The band continued and the guys who had been traipsing around in the parade were now human statues in front of the Catherine wheels. Look closely and you’ll see one with a white, pointy hat. How on earth did they get away with that?

When the fireworks stopped, a few formalities were made (eg, pre-recording of cute-sounding kid thanking everyone for coming), the street lights were turned on again, and parents were virtually running back to the baby buggy park to put their dead-weight, sleeping kids back into their baby buggies.

So, that’s summer officially over. Unofficially, it’s boiling hot and lake is calling.


I’m a technical author, journalist and writer from Australia who has been living in Europe since 2000 and exploring the world from there. My passions are writing, snow sports and travel.

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3 comments on “End of summer fête
  1. Kelsey says:

    Sounds like an unusual time, to be sure. I really love that first shot!

  2. Richard says:

    r.i.p official summer, hello mushroom picking season!!

  3. April says:

    Thanks Kelsey! I have quite a few of the cows, but I loved the one of the cow tipping over, with the crowd going “ooooh” (obviously not captured in the photo!).
    Richard, I’m not ready for summer to end yet. I’d be quite happy for the summer switch to turn off only when the winter switch is turned on and the snow arrives. Autumn is pretty etc. but I’d prefer the summer warmth. 🙂

About me

Wendy Hollands writer in Annecy, France

I'm an experienced technical writer based in the French Alps. I enjoy learning French language nuances, winter sports and travel. Drop by wendyhollands.com, my other site.

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