Geneva and L’Escalade

Situated at the western end of the lake, Geneva has long been a crossroads of culture, religion, business, and diplomacy.

One of the more unique moments in Genevois history is L’Escalade. On the night of December 11, 1602 the Duke of Savoy attempted a surprise attack on the walled city of Geneva. The Duke had long coveted the wealth of the city and (more importantly) wanted to crush the capital of Protestantism and return it to the Catholic faith.

The Savoy troops assembled outside the walls and attempted to scale them in secret to surprise the citizens inside. According to legend Catherine Cheynel, a mother of 14 who lived above the town gate, grabbed a large pot and poured hot soup on the attackers. The pot killed one invader and the commotion raised the alarm to the rest of the city. The end the Duke of Savoy retreated and Geneva remained independent until the Napoleonic Wars almost 200 years later.

Geneva celebrates L’Escalade every year with a large festival including parades, costumes, and wine. Chocolate pots filled with marzipan vegetables are smashed open by the oldest and youngest members of the group while reciting “Ainsi périrent les ennemis de la République! ” (Thus perished the enemies of the Republic).





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