…love was right before my eyes – first time I’ve ever quoted Survivor!
Just a few months back I was complaining that I hadn’t found my ‘favorite’ French city, that all had been really good, but none really great. The search is over…Annecy is now one of my favorite cities in all of Europe. It probably helped that I had a really wonderful tour guide. I first met Carol last year over Thanksgiving, while I was in Carcassonne. She’s from the US, but moved out to France years back to start a tour company (bestoffrancetravels.com). We shared Thanksgiving together, and when she heard I was going to Annecy, she offered to show me around, as she used to live there years ago. Over the course of the weekend, I can’t count how many times I asked her “you really used to live here?”
Annecy is set within the Alps, nearby the Swiss border and the city of Geneva. It’s known for Lake Annecy, the nicest lake I’ve seen in Europe….sorry Lake Como. After meeting Carol at her hotel we walked down to the lakeside…beautiful…and we planned our lake trip for the next day. We ended up sharing drinks at ‘Le Munich’ for a few hours, catching up on things over the past year. I talked her into a Westmalle Tripel, my favorite Belgian beer…she liked it!
She then took me out for a belated birthday dinner. I sampled the local cuisine…tartiflette…which was like a casserole of potatoes, onions, and cheese…not the healthiest dish but excellent! We had a great bottle of wine and closed with a digestif, genepi…an herbal liquor that was strong but very good as an after dinner drink.
The next day we started off at the Annecy outdoor market. I was tempted by the olives, saddened by the roasted chickens (the emotional vegetarian in me), and confused by the weird mushrooms they had for sale. The place was packed, as it offered everything from food to clothing and jewelry.
The market was set on the canal overlooking the prison, one of the most photographed sites in Annecy. It was a prison from the middle ages, and was used again during World War II, but now houses a museum. It’s truly beautiful during the day or night.
After the market we had lunch at a Belgian cafe…I swear France has such an appreciation for Belgian beer…possibly because their only popular beer, Kronenbourg, is just average. I had a salad that was so pretty I didn’t want to eat it…I did, however, and it was great!
From there we did the boat tour on Lake Annecy, which was the highlight of the trip. This lake is the cleanest lake in Europe…proven through scientific testing…you could see as the water was so blue and clear. I felt like I kept snapping photos and videos with reckless abandon…that made choosing the photos to include in the blog much more difficult. The narration during the tour was great as well, in both French and English. I loved the pictures I took of the misty mountains in the distance, the castles on the water, the sun setting, and the lakeside villages covered in autumn colors. I also got some great pictures, thanks to Carol, of me at the back of the boat next to the flying French flag! I had such a great time, I forgot how freezing it was getting, and right after the boat trip was finished we stopped for some hot wine to warm up.
The dinner the second night was incredible. We got something that involved a block of cheese being heated up in some contraption, then the contraption was rotated to allow you to scrape off the melted cheese onto a bed of potatoes…this was served with a side of pickles. It sounds strange…and unhealthy…but it was different and amazing! I shot some great video of this spectacle, something I may never do again!
The next morning I met Carol for our last morning in Annecy, as my train left in the early afternoon. She took me to the Chateau, which is a restored castle turned into a museum. There were some beautiful religious artifacts on display, and some great old paintings of Lake Annecy. I also found interesting the various things they had on display depicting life in the Alps hundreds of years ago…it was not cozy…in fact a very cold and hard living. The Chateau itself was very well preserved and beautiful, and there were great views of Annecy from the top.
So what else? Annecy had a lot of dogs, which I really love about a city. The one dog, a basset hound puppy named Jasper, we ended up seeing twice. We saw him on our first day, and the owner showed us how much loose skin he had to grow into. I saw him the second day crossing the street, and I instantly noticed him and he came over to us. He really had the prettiest eyes.
The flowers were everywhere here…on the houses, decorating the canals…I can only imagine how beautiful the Christmas market is here, but we showed up a week too early to catch that. So…Annecy is incredible. Thanks so much to Carol Etheridge, who was a fantastic tour guide…you are an amazing person and a great friend.