In Praise of Bacon (Fête du Caïon Annecy)
Autumn is arguably the best time to be in the mountains and Annecy. First in October there’s the odd but sweet Return From The Alpine Pastures festival where hundreds of cows and sheep are herded from the mountains looming over Annecy and through the town – along with throngs of mountain folk in costume accompanied by everything from brass bands to St. Bernard dogs from the nearby village of the same name, and then in the second week of November, there’s the charming Fête Du Caïon festival, which takes place on one cobbled street at the back of the old town – held in celebration and in deep honour of the Savoie Pig.
The festival starts with the herding of the pigs from the mountains who are then sat along the archways of the Rue Filaterie, poking their noses through light wooden fences, rolling in hay and generally having the kind of great time that it seems only pigs are capable of. Up and down the road there are a series of market stalls serving, amongst other things, delicious Diot au Vin Blanc, Diot hot dogs and pulled pork, as well as saucisson and pigs ears. Yep – it’s all about the pig.
Alarmingly there’s another tradition that takes place mid-way through the festivities when everyone has had their inhibitions correctly lowered by the quaffing of copious amounts of Savoie wine. The farmers compete in an imitation pig screaming contest – as you can no doubt imagine – it’s as delightful as it sounds. And yes one or two do this while giving foreign city-folk like me, dressed in black as usual, the eye while muttering “est-ce halloween?”, without even a hint of self awareness. But no matter, they sound like crap pigs and I’m here for the food anyway.
But one thing we do see eye to eye on is the pigs. And the pig is loved so much in this little mountain town – whether its the pigs themselves who are plump and well looked after, or the pork products (Saucisson, Diot etc) that are sold in their thousands each day in Annecy. Indeed, almost every restaurant serves Diot au Vin Blanc along with cheese fondues and Raclette (celebrated in various festivals throughout the year).
The Fête du Caïon takes place on the second Saturday of November. This year it’s on Saturday the 14th of November on the Rue Filaterie in the old town of Annecy between 12 noon and 17:00pm.