Updated: Feb 3, 2019
As we sit at the airport, waiting for our flight to Hungary, we look back at our journey across Western Europe and say goodbye to the first leg of our round the world trip, with Eastern Europe, America and Asia still to go.
We have just spent a few days in the town of Annecy, about an hour south of Geneva, which is sat by a crystal clear lake and boasts a host of sights and things to do. We booked here at the last minute as our plans were not set in stone for the end of our France visit. Whilst we tried to decide where to stop off between seeing Cath & Ross and flying out of Geneva, I misheard Lucy say "Shall we just go here to Annecy as it is between the two and probably easiest?". I was nodding and agreeing whilst pleased at the very pragmatic way in which she came upon the decision. Seemed sensible to me. A few days later Lucy was researching Annecy online via tripadviser and blogs, like we always do before visiting somewhere, and she showed me some pictures of lakes and nice food at Annecy and I was even more agreeable than before.
After arriving and spending an hour seeing some wonderful bustling cafes and cool lanes around the canals as we made our way to our hotel, I was wowed and grinning at the prospect of a few nights at such a pretty place with seemingly lots on the go. Before we even unpacked it transpired Lucy had in fact been here before when travelling years ago. Hence the reason she sensibly wanted to book. OK, I may be a little over 30 but I am sure my hearing is not that bad. Apparently it is.
Lucy had highly recommended Annecy when describing it to me the first time round, giving it a glowing review and making her passion to see the corners of the town and surrounding areas she did not have time to see many years ago quite clear. Despite my wax stuffed ears (which I am trying to fix in fact) I was very pleased with the end result. Annecy is another one of those must see places that we recommend to you. Here are the reasons why.
Location: Very near Geneva Airport and the scenery across the lake and of the mountains are a must see in person. The old town is situated around small canals where the bright lights of the night bounce of the shimmering surface for those magical photos. Lovely jubbly.
Food: You have on offer local alpine menus like cheese fondu, pizzas and racelette, upmarket french cuisine, asian and seafood. So many are well decorated, snug and cosy giving you a special holiday experience whilst not feeling too much like a crammed in tourist. There is even one cocktail and seafood place across the lake that plays cool upbeat jazzy / dance tunes that looks like it is straight out of Ibiza. Very cool.
Drinks: Plenty of wine tasting and a couple of quirky craft ale bar/pubs. If you care to look you will find some old school bars where hip locals cross their legs whilst sipping their drinks and some puff on thin cigars outside. Even cooler.
Things to do: Shopping in main town (high end stores to H&M), browse the old town, go for coffee, hire bikes and cycle for miles and miles around the excellent paths, hire small speed boats or pedalos, do wine tasting (did I mention that?), go hiking, picnic in the parks or the beach, swimming, mini golf and lots more.
People: Relaxed and very nice. Showed their community spirit this weekend as they had dinner and a dance in the park overlooking the lake where families turned up with picnic bags, wine etc. and eager workers (seemingly volunteers) kept bringing out more and more tresal tables for people to join in the community dinner party.
Cleanliness: Very clean. Always important and on our city ratings score.
Value for money: Most restaurants have varying tourist prices (€15 upwards) but you can grab absolute bargain price ready pastas and picnic bits from the supermarket that are delicious to enjoy with a bottle or two around the water or in the park.
Most importantly for us, as travellers, we felt welcomed and fully entertained. It is a place where tourists can be spoilt rotten by the views when gorging in the lovely restaurants and people like us could wander through the old town without feeling the need to be dressed up. We could also enjoy the views whilst tucking into a homemade picnic and not feel like we were missing out.
The open space and hiking made it special for us too. Yesterday, after being inspired by our friends we met further south in France who were doing a 145km (yes 145) foot race in the mountains, we decided to climb one of the local treks up a nearby mountain called La Tournette. 2,300m, 44km and 12.25 hours later we were truly ready for some carbohydrates and red wine. This was shortly followed by dumping everything in the sink and passing out. Worth it though.
We had left at 8am and almost reached the summit around 2.30pm when some kiwis coming down said the very top was about 30 mins away. They advised a little further up there were some horrible steep rock climbs with metal chains for support and this was the reason they had turned back as it was pretty hairy and wet. They had hiked many times around NZ and it was enough reason for us to call where we were pretty much the top, especially as I had jelly like legs and vertigo had long before kicked in. We started our leisurely decent happy to have made the right decision. Plus it was so misty the photos would have been crap anyway.
Not forgetting to mention that we just so happened to bump into my old boss Mike and his wife Sonia who happened to be visiting their daughter Harriet who moved to Lyon a couple of years ago with her husband, who happened to be best man at a wedding they were going to that afternoon in Annecy. Small world hey, especially after seeing 2 different couples over here from back home in the past fortnight. We managed to grab a coffee and chew the fat. Brilliant.
As was everything we were involved in when staying here. Most places we spend maximum 3 nights at and that gives us 2 full days of sightseeing. I think this was only the 2nd place we said we could stay another day in before getting bored or needing to move on. Check out our next post and you will probably guess the other place.
Well played Annecy.