After our mountain extravaganza, C & I head to Annecy for the week. I've seen pictures of the city on various blogs over the years, and have always wanted to visit.
Plus there is the beautiful lake filled with the clearest water I have ever seen in France - and coming from the Land of 10,000 Lakes, proximity to water is important to me.
I was a bit nervous about spending a full week in one city since it's
something I rarely do, so I thought I would share here what we did to
keep ourselves busy. We arrived at about noon the first day and took a two hour boat tour around the lake just to get our bearings. Our tour also had the option of doing a stop-off at one of the ports, so we did that and spent a few hours lounging around in the sun before hopping back on the boat.
The following day, we spent in the city of Annecy
itself, just walking around and enjoying the scenery. We also visited the Palais de l'Isle
et the Château d'Annecy
. If you're planning on visiting both, make sure to get the combined "Palais-Château" ticket since it offers a reduced entry price. Though personally we were really disappointed by the Château - it was filled with all kinds of art that looked like piles of garbage and then the other section had some random expos about local flora and fauna. Not really the château experience I was looking for....
The third day, we headed a bit inland to the Gorges de Fier
, which I had heard about from Crystal
. It was a cool site to visit, assuming you are not scared of heights. When we got to the last bit, we saw a bunch of people swimming on the other side of the Gorges. We'd been planning on finding a nice place to eat outside anyways, so we decided to go investigating. After trying to get at the Gorges from all angles, we finally found the secret access point to this swimming hole:
I'm telling you, it was pretty dang cool. We had a lot of fun hanging out there and cooling off in the sun. After that, we headed up the road to the Château de Montrottier
. Again, if you're planning on visiting both, be sure to get the combined ticket to save a few euros.
And then we tried to go to an Ostrich/Orchid farm, but you had to pay to see the ostriches (and they looked kind of mangy), and the orchids had all been eaten by rats five years ago. First of all, WTF?? Rats?? And second of all, why are they still putting up signs and brochures saying they have orchids? End rant.
The fourth day, we spent hiking - we first went up to the Roc de Chère.
As we started out walking up the hill through the forest, I had a slight panic attack thinking about the previous mountain we had climbed and how difficult it was.
I pushed through it though, and was really glad I did because we had absolutely amazing views at the top:
We had lunch on the walls of the Château de Saint Bernard
. I had decided not to visit this château since we had already done two and C is not a huge fan, but if I had to do it all over again, I would have skipped the other two and gone to this one. Unlike the other two, this château was actually decorated and lived-in, instead of just being filled with random collections and modern artwork that clashes with the ancient architecture.
After lunch, we headed on another hike, to see the Angon Cascades
. It was another brutal one-hour hike straight up hill and the whole time I was thinking "These better be some damn good cascades". But they weren't, it was basically just a small trickle mostly hidden by the trees and rocks. So unless you like torturing yourself for nothing, I'd say skip it.
The other main thing we did in Annecy was to rent a boat for the morning. Not having a boat and not being able to spend time out on the water is one of the main things I miss about Minnesota. So we splurged a little and it was totally worth it - definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me. We got out there early in the morning before their were crowds and had the lake almost entirely to ourselves, minus a few fishermen. It was amazing. We just cruised around, enjoying the calm and looking at all of the beautiful lake homes. I honestly think I may have found the one place in France I could live besides Paris - and that is a lot coming from someone who has said she will never again live en province. There's water, mountains, châteaux everywhere, lots of outdoor activities and easy access to ski stations in the winter. Not to mention the great rollerblading and bike paths that are absolutely everywhere. What's not to love? I can totally see why so many bloggers
enjoy living in the area.
After that, we went to spend some time on a "beach" - and I say beach in parentheses because we didn't really find many sandy beaches. A lot of them were just grass that went up to the water or had really rocky shores with sharp rocks. Also, as a side note, some of them you have to pay to get into - for example, this one in Sevrier cost 2€ a person in the summer, but they had really cheap summer passes and it'd definitely be worth it for a family. The facilities are only two years old, and they had lifeguards giving swimming lessons, a nice kids playground, really cleaning changing cabins, clean toilets and lots of shade. It also had a gigantic parking lot, and finding a good place to park was one of our daily hassles.
It was a wonderful vacation, and a place I will definitely be going back to, which is rare for me - normally I visit a place once and then it's on to the next thing. After all, there's so much left to see out there, both in France and elsewhere in the world! But I can definitely see us renting a place here for a week (and a boat!) and alternating between just hanging out and visiting sites, because there really is a lot to see & do in the area.
Any takers for going in on a house with us next year?? :)
Labels: Annecy, Châteaux, Travel