The Escalade… What is it?

If one lives in the area of Geneva, it is impossible to miss the Escalade race – which, by the way, just took place on Saturday Dec. 5 and in which many CDL students participated. However, the real “Escalade” festival is happening this week-end!

L’escalade tradition began in the night of December 11, 1602, when the Duke of Savoy attempted to surprise-attack the state of Geneva in the darkness of the night at 2:00 am with his army. The Duke’s idea was to let his best soldiers secretly climb (“scale”) over the Geneva’s fortification walls to get hold of the city gate from inside, open it and let the troops in. This is where the word escalade comes from – French “escalade” translates as English “scale”, or “climb”.

The Pot of Hot Soup
There is a legend which tells a story of a woman called Catherine Cheynel. It says that while cooking a soup, she was lucky enough to have noticed the attackers approaching from below and poured a large cauldron of hot soup on them while they were climbing on the walls. The noise awakened the entire city and its militia successfuly defended Geneva from the Duke of Savoy’s army.

As a reminiscence of this moment, a special chocolate pot stuffed with marzipan candies is being ceremonially consumed every year as the hallmark of the Escalade celebrations.

Here is a picture of the marmitte de l’Escalade:



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