Mère Royaume – Geneva, Switzerland - Atlas Obscura

Mère Royaume

On the side of a building, a depiction of the woman who became a local legend by tossing soup out her window. 


Most places have local heroes which get celebrated on their own days, but Geneva is perhaps the only one centered around a woman who threw soup from a window. 

Legend has it that Catherine Cheynel—who has come to be known as Mère Royaume, or “Kingdom Mother”—was an ordinary citizen cooking stew for her children when the Catholic French attacked the newly Protestant city on the night of December 12, 1602. Instead of hiding, she grabbed the soup pot and threw it down on the attackers, badly burning them. 

The racket caused by this attack alerted the guards who could fight off the invaders, and Mère Royaume was seen as a hero. The failed attack had been commemorated ever since. On the closest weekend to December 12, Geneva celebrates the Fête de l’Escalade with paradise and other festivities. It is traditional to buy a chocolate cauldron filled with marzipan vegetables and to break it open in Mère Royaume’s memory.

Beyond this tradition, only a few other traces of Mère Royaume exist in the city today, with a small bust above a building entrance being the only remaining depiction. It is even not completely agreed if the old woman depicted there is her or Dame Piaget, who threw the key to Swiss soldiers so they could pass through her building and take the attackers by surprise.

Know Before You Go

The statue is easily visible from the street side, please be respectful though since it's a residential building. 

The opera is very close, don't forget to take a look at that if you are here already!

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