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Rolle: Inauguration de la Grand-rue

SWITZERLAND | Sunday, 13 September 2015 | Views [492]

There is a lot to be said for the size of a place. Rolle is small - not a city, but not a village, either. It is situated between the much larger, cosmopolitan cities of Lausanne and Geneva. With a population of 6,000, Rolle is best known for its placement (and production) in the La Côte wine region, not for its people or parties.

But its people just put on a party and it was hella fun.

The "main drag" (that this term can be used speaks volumes about Rolle's size) has been under construction for four years. This is not a major, six-lane highway. This is a mile-long stretch of pavement we're talking about.

Before I came to Switzerland, I did some reading and conversational research about the nature of Swiss people and culture. The general consensus was that the Swiss are a tad uptight and very concerned with order, structure and consistency. I have yet to see that reflected here. Rolle has been the picture of laid back, laissez-faire, French attitude. I suppose it should be no surprise, considering our proximity to France, but it was not what I expected. 

Four years is quite a while to have the heart of your town clogged with one-lane traffic, loud construction and holes in the sidewalk. I understand several businesses didn't survive and have been replaced by hip, new boutiques and cafes, which contributed to a surprising amount of style and forwardness that was unexpected in a town so small. Naturally, the community was thrilled to have its little hub back and this Saturday was marked by a flurry of small-town pride and celebration.

The street was full at 9:30, just a half hour after the festivities began. Every, single business was open and participating by serving coffee, wine, or food. Balloon arches stretched proudly into the sky at either end of the street and even Coop, the local chain grocery, had been decorated. Children, faces painted like tigers and superheroes courtesy of the corner pharmacy, were scurrying around on foot and scooters and roller blades. A stretch of sidewalk in front of the pub was drenched in color and chunks of chalk, two different stores were out front spinning candy floss on sticks, even the UBS bankers were out in their suits serving wine and orchestrating some sort of magnet toss. Long, beer garden-esque tables with benches lined the center of the street. There was a bounce house, balloon animals and nineties techno bumping from speakers set up by the local florist.

Fueled by a pain au chocolat and espresso, I milled through the crowd, relishing the wellspring of energy and admiring the various things I love about Europeans:

  • Five o'clock is an irrelevant time. It's perfectly acceptable to have a glass of wine at 10am.
  • Weekends are sacred. This is a time for drink and merriment, exclusively.
  • There is basically nowhere your dogs and/or children are not welcome.

Elegant women sat smoking cigarettes and sipping rosé on cloth-covered bails of hay in front of a fashion boutique. A group of old men playing cards polished off their fifth bottle of wine, setting it into a group of empties and uncorking a new one. A massive vat of pumpkin soup bubbled beside a wagon display of fall-colored gourds and squash in front of the sweet organic grocery I've already come to adore. Employees of a jewelry store called Gipsie were out applying temporary flash tattoos to people's wrists and hands. Children lay in their parents' arms, collapsed in a candy-floss coma. 

When a rainstorm rolled in with the evening and chased off the truly dedicated partyers, I was already home, napping off a one-glass-of-wine hangover. 


Tags: europe, small towns, swiss pride, switzerland, wine



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