After reading Cortney’s post on December 30th about la fête de la Restauration de la République, I decided that for once, instead of waking to cannon fire early on December 31st as in past years, I would join the party. After all, this was the bicentenary celebration of Geneva’s independence from Napoleon, an important date in Geneva’s history. I set off for the Old Town at 7:45 on what was a cold and foggy morning.
The first sign of the festivity I came across was at Observatory Hill opposite the Art and History Museum, where a cannon had been set up and was surrounded by four uniformed “soldiers”.
Before I could get a good look at what was going on, an enormous “boum” went off and a puff of smoke rose from the cannon. A small crowd of people stood and watched, waiting for the next salve, which came 30 seconds later. In the meantime I could hear that another cannon was firing at La Treille further into the Old Town. I walked through the streets shrouded in mist toward the sound of the other cannon.
A marching band was preening in their blue uniforms as I passed City Hall. At La Treille above the university park there was a big crowd milling around until all the 23 shots, representing the 23 Swiss cantons, were fired. Then the band arrived to stir up the patriotic feeling with their music and the President of the Grand Conseil addressed the crowd explaining the significance of the anniversary.
To finish off the ceremony, everyone was invited to a breakfast of sweet buns, coffee and hot chocolate under the arches next to the Cantonal Archives. We all munched on the delicious rolls as the band of blue-suited musicians marched by.
By 9 o’clock it was over and I walked back through the now silent streets toward the Museum. When I got to Observatory Hill, the cannon had been removed and the Promenade-Saint Antoine was deserted.
We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at: http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/