August in La Clusaz means one thing: cheese. The Fete du Reblochon is held annually in La Clusaz, and this year, it celebrated 50 years of enjoying AOC status, which means any cheese sold under the name of Reblochon must be made in certain villages of the Aravis mountain range in Haute Savoie, France. The fete starts at midday with crazy people attempting to ski down a white, plastic sheet with ancient wooden skis in temperatures hovering around the mid-thirties. Once they’re done, this turns into a giant slide for kids, who spend the rest of the day — and the evening — rolling down it. With cows, goats and donkeys dotted around, traditional bands play traditional music while traditional dancers wear traditional costume and bounce around on the traditional stage.
Meanwhile, the locals start drinking.
A parade consisting of various farmyard animals and local floats makes its way through town in the afternoon, while displays of cheese-making, wool-spinning and ancient bread-making are going on beside the stage and bar.
Meanwhile, the locals keep drinking.
Plates of French cheese and tartiflette are served to the masses, who spend their time eating, drinking and wandering around the displays, farmyard animals, wood-chopping exhibitions and entertainment they can participate in. It’s all good fun for kids, adults, farmers and city-dwellers alike.
Meanwhile, the locals are drunk…and probably serving behind the bar.
Before the sun went down this year, a donkey race was held with various high-standing members of the community participating as jockeys (a fireman, a policeman, a farmer, a ski instructor…and a few others of similarly respected jobs). Everyone was invited to bet on a jockey, but the real fun was watching the stubborn donkeys find new ways of refusing to move.
Meanwhile, the locals took the opportunity to drink some more while the bar wasn’t busy.
As night fell, the band played on and the bar was the place to be. Alas, La Clusaz is in the mountains and by midnight, most people had departed to find somewhere warmer indoors.
The locals, however, probably kept drinking after the rest of us left. The Fete du Reblochon is an absolute treat.