A gorgeous clear crystal lake, the majestic Jura mountains, and canals winding through a colorful medieval French town. Need I say more? The last leg of our trip was in Annecy, a French village near the Switzerland border. It was the perfect end to our France trip!
We left Montpellier in the morning and arrived to a rainy Annecy in the late afternoon. After checking into our hotel, Best Western Carlton, which was centrally located, we went out to explore the town. With the rain still coming down heavily, the town was pretty dead. Not even really many tourists, let alone locals out and about. Many restaurants were closed and the streets were eerily quiet. At sunset, there was a short pause in the down pour and a glimpse of sunlight. P and I took advantage of this and visited the famous lake and its crystal blue waters. The lake was beautifully set amongst the mountains and the fog, and it was really a sight to see.
The next morning, sunlight was pouring into our hotel room window. It was going to be a sunny and hot day in Annecy! No more rain!
We explored the Old Town and got breakfast at the local bakery, Boulangerie Artisanale, which was declared the best bakery in town by an old man who was standing nearby waiting for his wife to buy a baguette. Well, all I heard was “Incroyable!’ and “Délicieux!” so we had to try it! There was a line, so that was also a good sign. We got an almond croissant and a bacon and cheese quiche and headed to the lake. Both the croissant and the quiche were pretty amazing, so that bakery became our go-to for bread and breakfast.
A friend had highly recommended doing the boat cruises on the lake to take in the views. But, she and her husband visited in the middle of winter. P and I opted for the paddle boats, which were cheaper and more fun. Plus, we got a leg workout too! We paddled through the lake (it’s a lot harder than it looks!) and admired the gorgeous mountains. I couldn’t help but keep dipping my fingers into the cold blue lake water. As the weather started warming up and we were paddling harder and harder so as to get to the center of the lake, P decided that he was going to take a dip. What?! The water was freezing despite the warmer temperatures. Plus, we weren’t wearing our swimsuits. He was firm and there was no convincing him out of it. When we found a nice, isolated spot in the middle of the lake, he stripped off his clothes and jumped into the lake commando… He swam around the lake, declaring how refreshing the water is and how I should jump in too (I declined). Within 5 minutes, he was out of the water. The water was cold! But P had no regrets. When in Annecy, you have to take a dip in the famous lake! I guess I missed out…
After our paddle boating excursion, we went in search of some cheese, sausages, and bread for a picnic in the park overlooking the lake. When we approached the cheese shop in Annecy at about 1pm, it was closed. So was the bakery and the charcuterie. Apparently, all small local shops close for 2 hours for lunch… So in order to save our picnic, we settled for a salami, cheese and pickle sandwich to split, hoping to fill our stomachs just enough so we have room for the cheese and sausages later. When we finished our picnic, we realized that the shops still weren’t open. So, we had a drink and some ice cream at an outdoor restaurant with a view of the Palais de l’Isle and walked around the town to buy some time.
Finally, at 3 pm, we were able to make our purchases, and we happily snacked on our Comté cheese from Pierre Gay (fabulous family owned cheese shop) and Savoie saucissons with some local wine in our hotel room while watching the French Open on TV. After relaxing and unwinding, we went out again in search of a late dinner where we had our third steak tartar of the trip. For dessert, we had a second serving of mango and melon gelato… you know… to cleanse the palette.
On our way back to the hotel, we spotted some vintage / antique cars (a Bentley, a Ford, and a BMW) parked in the Old Town. Those cars glistened under the Annecy lamps, and I was tempted to take one for a ride…
We got up early the next morning because we had a long 6 hour drive ahead of us back to Paris for a night before heading back to Boston. Before we left, I had to check out the farmer’s market in the Old Town, which is only held on Tuesday’s, Friday’s, and Sunday’s. I was in heaven! Stalls and stalls of fresh produce and fruit, flowers, cheese, bread, olives, and sausages. Everything looked incredible, and I wished that I could buy everything! We bought some local cherries and some tomato and sweet pepper tapenade for the road, along with a freshly sliced baguette. Then, after a quick espresso break, we were off!
Wish we could have stayed in Annecy longer to do some paragliding or hiking. Guess we’ll just have to come back! Maybe in the summer when the lake is warmer…