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Annecy, Mont Blanc, and then some city lights

Annecy, Mont Blanc, and then some city lights

Old Sep 22nd, 2011, 03:19 PM
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Annecy, Mont Blanc, and then some city lights

Hello all

This will be the second Annecy trip report you've seen this month! I hope you find my ramblings useful; it seems that another trip report from Annecy will fill an information gap here.

Before I start I have to give a shout out to FrenchMystiqueTours. He gave me a wealth of information over on TripAdvisor (shhhh) both in the forums and through messages. In fact his recommendations formed my four days there. I wish I had the same two weeks he had! One item of note: even though I arrived shortly after he left, I did not have the crush of tourists he experienced in Annecy, not by half. It was fairly quiet - even the kids I saw in town seemed like locals if for no other reason than many of them weren't accompanied by parents. It would seem the first week of September is a good time to go.

<b>Highlights</b>

Annecy/Mont Blanc has long been on my list of places I "really ought to see one day". It got bumped to prime position when my department's planned trip to Chile got moved to April. I already had a petsitter lined up, so why not just go somewhere else?

I flew into Geneva and home from Paris which worked out perfectly. Seven nights, with the split of 4-1-2 Annecy/Lyon/Paris. I'm glad I went to Lyon but were I to do it again I'd have taken that day in favor of Annecy or Paris, and given Lyon more time on another visit. I had less than 24 hours in Lyon.

While in Annecy I did some hiking, visited some beautiful mountain passes (by car), and looked Mont Blanc in the face via the Aiguille du Midi. I had hoped to bike during my visit but did not. I do know exactly where to find rental bikes the next time though. I also know where to find the paragliders! Clearly I would have benefited from a longer stay.

I will also say that this trip made me appreciate the efforts Backroads put into their hiking trips. I used Backroads on my trip to Norway and they are a well oiled machine. Despite my planning, I still had to spend time on the ground in preparations for anything "outdoorsy". I had to visit the TI for brochures/hiking books, and then the next morning I got the car/situated myself. By the time I took off on my first hike it was after lunch on day 2 of my trip. Day 1 was mostly rain, though, so I didn't miss much. If it's going to rain it may as well be the day you have jetlag.

During my afternoon in Lyon, I wandered. In Paris, more (focused) wandering, with a little bit of shopping. I broke new ground in Paris, too. I did not once (once) set foot on the left bank. This is a huge departure for me, as every single one of my trips saw me sleeping on the left bank. This time I chose a right bank hotel and never left the right bank (unless you count Ile de la Cite/Ile St. Louis, that is).

I made some new friends on this trip, too! I met Judy (here on fodors) and her DH. We had several meals together which was really nice.

<b>Annecy</b>

in Annecy I stayed at the Hotel Splendid which faces the lake. It's a great location and very easy for parking. The Hotel de Ville has a large underground parking garage and is 3 minutes away on foot (N.B. they pipe classical music into the parking garage! Only in France...). The Splendid pays for overnight parking there (7 PM to 8 AM). My room was a big, well appointed room with hardwood floors and comfortable twin beds. The bathroom was large and bright (tiles not hardwood). The room had a loveseat and a desk as well as a TV but the room was plenty large enough to fit everything without crowding. My room even had a small "foyer" abutting the bathroom which was a great place to remove wet shoes before walking into the main part of the room. The staff was friendly and helpful and the breakfast had many choices. I'd definitely stay here again.

http://www.hotel-annecy-lac.fr/uk/

I would recommend a car for your visit because you will want to visit the various mountain roads and passes in the region. For hiking, there are guided tours you can take but the brochure I had showed that they were not every day. I imagine for paragliding there could be an arrangement to pick you up/drop you off, but I didn't check into it.
flygirl is offline  
Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 04:59 AM
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<b>More Annecy</b>

The first day was pretty much a downpour all day, but luckily that was the worse of it for the week. Wednesday was gloomy in the morning, with some spitting rain, but even that cleared up by the afternoon. If it's going to rain it may as well be the day I'm jetlagged, although that did shorten the amount of time I had to go hiking/biking etc.

So, I wandered. There are many arcades around town so you can do a fair bit of window shopping without getting wet. It was market day, and according to the Michelin Green Guide their Sunday market is "one of the best in France". It was too wet for me to admire it, I mostly ducked umbrellas.

I ducked into the Notre Dame de Liesse for a little bit, and eventually wandered up the hill to the Chateau. It is a museum and there was a big exhibit on the natural world. I lingered longer than I probably would have due to the rain.

There is a big TI near the hotel so I visited and stocked up. I picked up a number of "outfitter" brochures (eyes are always bigger than the stomach, I had three days left with one set for Mont Blanc), Mont Blanc details, and a hiking booklet FMT alerted me to. It's called "Lake of Annecy, Special Edition: Walks and Treks" and the subtitle is something along the lines of "Best hikes around Lake Annecy". He told me the Semnoz Plateau was the prettiest, so I already had my Monday planned (weather permitting). As I mentioned, without a car you can undoubtedly find outfitters who will pick you up, at least in season. The brochure of guided hikes was already looking rather thin for the month of September though.

That evening it finally stopped raining. As I was heading out to find dinner I ran into Judy and her DH in the Splendid! They were staying there too. We had a few glasses of wine at a little restaurant not far from a canal (nothing is very far from a canal in Annecy). It was great meeting them, they are a lot of fun. They were embarking on their three week adventure, and I was embarking on my one-week sprint through France. We had roughly the same itinerary, they just stretched it to a civilized three weeks. (Annecy, Lyon, and Paris). They are still in Paris as a matter of fact.

It was still early-ish (I was running out of steam) and so after our little happy hour they set off for a walk and I walked next door to l'Auberge du Lyonnais for dinner. Very good! My first day in France isn't complete until I've had my kir royal and some foie gras. I had the kir royal with Judy and her DH, and my foie gras at this restaurant. It came with some sweet bread (not a brioche, not sure what it was, but it had some fruit in it) and I had a sweet wine (Cote du Layon) for my starter. Sea bass for the meal, some more wine, and I was ready to turn in.

http://www.auberge-du-lyonnais.com/a...sh-seafood.htm
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 05:14 AM
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Great report so far - looking forward to more!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 05:44 AM
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Thanks jamikins!

I just realized a big omission on my part. Stu Dudley! He also gave me information I relied upon. FMT sent me an enormous amount of links and ideas, but Stu also gave me some ideas: "top four things to do while in Annecy". I also printed his email and brought it with me. Good stuff.

I just remembered I had crepes/chocolat chaud the morning I arrived at a creperie in the Place St. Francois de Sales (outside - they had biiiig awnings). On day one I carried my little camera but the shots are uninspiring to say the least. Hard to get decent photos when you are hunched under an umbrella most of the day!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 06:18 AM
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Great report! Can't wait to read more. Thanks for sharing your adventures!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 06:19 AM
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Looking forward to the rest ogf your report. Youreally must get back to Lyon for more than 1 day , we barely covered it in 4!
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 07:40 AM
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We really enjoyed the time we spent with flygirl....lots of travel to chat about among many other things! I'm heading out to Hidden Kitchen tonight and home tomorrow. Can't wait to read more and especially look forward to some great photos.
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Old Sep 23rd, 2011, 11:51 AM
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I am thoroughly flattered by your thanks flygirl. And either I wasn't aware or I had forgotten you were a biker otherwise I would have sent you some info about bike rentals around the lake. You were a better tourist than I was in Annecy since you actually went inside the château and learned the name of the local church. I learned absolutely nothing about Annecy and was thrilled with my own ignorance. I'll be waiting for your next installment but will be a bit on the edge of my seat knowing you planned your stay around a lot of my advice so I hope this portion of your trip has a happy ending. If there was a nail-biting/nervous emoticon I would insert it here.
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 08:30 AM
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LowCountryIslander, avalon, Judy, thanks!

FMT, I knew the church was Notre Dame de something, and google was my friend for the rest of it. The Chateau was a good place to hide from the rain. It didn't have a lot of period stuff inside, it was primarily an exhibit on the natural world. As far as biking, I just didn't have quite enough time! My last day I could have either gone for a short bike ride in the afternoon (before the rental shop closed) or a boat ride. I opted for a boat ride.

<b>Day 2: Annecy, picking up the car, and hiking the Semnoz Plateau.</b>

The next morning was rather grey but at least it wasn't raining. I can do grey, no problem. I had a pickup time of 9 AM for the car but since I wasn't going to head out on the hike until it cleared up (and Chamonix Meteo said to expect that around lunch time) I asked my hotel to call Europcar to see if I could pick up later in the morning.

I took a stroll around the lakefront after breakfast. The pedalboats are a short walk from the hotel, in case you visit and are interested to rent any. It was quite quiet along the waterfront even though it was after 9 AM. I get the sense that the season in Annecy stops rather abruptly, I was just about the only person walking around on a Monday morning. I also took the time to re-wander the town, this time with my head held high and no squidge-squidge-squidge noise from my feet. I reviewed a few photos from the first day, it was a really hard rain on day one. Visibly hard rain in the photos.

There are lots of canals! Annecy is called "Venice of the Alps". Apparently Amsterdam is Venice of the something or other, I think I've read Stockholm is Venice of the something else... Venice has a lot of company. These canals, in contrast with either Venice or Amsterdam, were shallow (you could see the bottom in many places) and looked pretty clean. Yes, I have the obligatory "Palais de l'Isle" photo. Several, as a matter of fact, and many more than I will eventually bore you with.

I wandered over to the Europcar outlet near the train station and picked up a VW Golf, my new companion for the next few days. I love VW Golfs. They look tiny, but they have a lot of room (four doors, even) and they are zippy. This one had a "you are too bloody close to the wall or the bumper of that car" sensor which would start to beep at me every so often, for instance, in parking garages.

I also decided to opt for a GPS, which leads me to my obvious pandering for a Free Fodors Book with Useable Quote. Here goes:

<b>Will I have my name in lights for a Fodors book? Great hint coming up. wink wink</b>

The most useful aspect of a GPS is not necessarily to lead you to the interesting sites. Those are always marked on maps and eventually you will find them. For instance, Mont Blanc. I can find that on my own. It's a big mountain. Eventually I'd run into it. In fact big attractions not only are found on maps, you will also see many street signs along your route with their name on them.

Where the GPS truly shines, when you are unfamiliar with your new town and especially its rabbit warren of one-way streets is (tada, the hint): finding your hotel! This is useful every time you head home - when was the last time your hotel had street signs pointing to it, or you could find the name of it on a map? On your route home, it's easy to find [insert town] on a map, but it's not always easy to find your hotel once you get back to that town. Annecy is really easy, it's a small town and after one drive-by you know where you are and how to get there, but when you are in Amsterdam or Munich, this is helpful. I came to this conclusion during my trip to Amsterdam as a matter of fact, but, I haven't written that report yet.

The Tom Tom is set up so that the "last destinations visited" are one touch away. Click on last destinations, then on the street address you inputted for your hotel and it will point you home - two clicks, that is it. Your paper map will show you the more interesting roads so you can deviate to your heart's content and Tom Tom will always recalculate for you.

I wonder if this was already pointed out by someone. At any rate, there you go.

<b>Back to the hiking</b>

Here are the photos, first (just Le Semnoz):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...zplateau/show/

Because it is a slideshow based on tags, they are going to be out of order but there aren't that many, anyway.

As you can see, it turned into a pretty day but still a lot of clouds. Apparently you can see Mont Blanc from this plateau, and I definitely did not see that. Check out FMT's photos for Mont Blanc. Nonetheless this was a really pretty hike. I only saw a few people, and only for a brief time, and I loved the fact that I'd stop, look around, and hear nothing, nothing but the occasional cow bell. That's it. No talking, no traffic, no nothing. Beautiful.

I used the booklet from the TI and based on this one hike, I would probably have edited the book a little better (it was all hand drawn hikes and "turn here at the cow pile"). For starters, the restaurant where you park and hike could have been named. It became clear once I got there, but there was another really big restaurant on the drive to the top, near the top, and it wasn't apparent from the book if that was the one. I drove a little more and the way the road was going led me to think I missed it, I went back, looked around, nope, this can't be it... not a big deal but it would have been solved by naming the restaurant where you would park. Which I can't even do now, for you, because when I finally got there I figured, OK, this has to be The Top so I parked.

My advice is: to do this hike you don't want to be near the top (which would mean hiking UP), you want to be AT the top. The hike itself really isn't much of an elevation change. If you chose to just stick to the gravel path instead of the described hike you won't see as much but you could do it in sandals. You don't need an advanced fitness level to do this hike, but, I'm mystified that they said strollers could go on this trail, because it really was a grass trail through cow fields. That would have to be a heavy duty stroller. They did warn you that if it was foggy not to bother because there was a real risk of getting lost.

At the end of the day I had a beautiful tromp through some fields but I'm certain I lost whatever trail was being described and just struck out on my own. The second half of the walk (which would have led me to the viewing area for Mont Blanc) wasn't all that clear "where to go" although had it been less cloudy I would have just started walking uphill and figured it out - I knew I wasn't going to see very far so I didn't do so.

I wish I had more time for other hikes in the book though. It would have been delightful to get through at least all the easy ones. FMT, please don't feel bad for my critique - I'm glad I had that book, or I wouldn't have even known about this hike! One of my photos shows another lake in the distance. I don't believe that is Annecy, it was west and Annecy would have been north east. Could that be Aix les Bains, or is that too far away?

After my hike, I got back into my car and headed downhill. I didn't backtrack but instead kept going ahead - which was down. That was a fun, twisty ride to the bottom (which I think is what FMT did on his bike? I can vouch for the craziness, it was steep and very twisty). I meandered around some back roads and eventually made it back to Annecy.

I met Judy and her DH Jim for dinner. They liked the looks of Auberge du Lyonnais so we went there. I am pretty simple with food, if I really like something I have no problem eating there again and even eating the same thing again! A nice meal, good conversation, good wine, and then eventually it was time to go.

<b>The next day: Mont Blanc. And more photos. </b>
flygirl is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2011, 10:17 AM
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flygirl - I have the same critiques of that book as you do. Not enough detail on the maps. We even made the same mistake as you did with that restaurant going up to the plateau. We stopped there and I hiked all the way to the top of the hill from where I could see the restaurant the hiking book had spoken of as the starting point. So I hiked back down (the Mrs. waited for me) and we ended up having lunch at that restaurant before going to the top to start from the point suggested in the book. Since my travel style is based on just getting lost anyway this doesn't bother me too much. Your camera takes better pictures than mine and shows the distant scenery much more clearly. The lake you saw in the distance was Lac du Bourget, which is the lake Aix-les-Bains is located on. Don't you wish you had your bike to ride down from the top of the Semnoz Plateau? Crazy indeed, but lots of fun.
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 10:32 AM
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The panoramas are absolutely breathtaking!
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Old Sep 24th, 2011, 02:32 PM
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FMT, that is funny! I think the only solution is that we team up for a proper Annecy hiking guide. I made a good go of it with that restaurant. I wandered around it, trying to find the location clues the booklet gave. I found a little gravel path and trudged up it, only to find myself in a children's play garden. Enclosed. Nope, that couldn't be it. I saw the "path" you walked up and thought of the previous day's rain and thought, ick. I just dried off and here I go again.

Luckily I ran into a guy as I was wandering around the parking lot and he told me to keep going on the road. Yay!

Once I found the proper parking spot, in the end it wasn't a big deal, because whether I slavishly followed their instructions or broke new ground... I was walking in a cow field. Cow field here, cow field there. Clang clang. It's all good. The clouds were kind of low as you can see. I saw down into the valley just fine, but, the clouds were at a high enough level that to the east, where the mountains started, was rather shrouded.

Kerouac, they really are, aren't they? Thank you for taking a look!

<b>Day 3, Tuesday. Mont Blanc, Aiguille du Midi, and, where's the Donkey?</b>

Photos first! Mont Blanc tag slideshow. Again, slideshow shows them out of order.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...ontblanc/show/

Tuesday was the bluest/sunniest/best weather of the trip. I knew it was now or never for Mont Blanc as Wednesday was supposed to be overcast and Thursday I was off to Lyon.

Before I left with the car I wandered around town for a short while because the lighting was so pretty. When I finally took off I fired up the Tom Tom, which wasn't even needed because of the many signs directing you to Chamonix (remember my hint above).

I have to tell you this: I've seen a number of mountains in my time. In fact, just in the past 12 months I've hiked on Machu Picchu and I've been to Norway (fjordland) which is all mountains. I've seen the Rockies (admittedly not all of them, just the bits around Breckenridge/Vail and some of the Fourteeners I think they call them). I've seen the Matterhorn as well as other parts of the Alps. With the possible exception of Machu Picchu, none of them were as jaw droppingly bloody HUGE, and made me feel so small, as Mont Blanc. Talk about being dwarfed by a massive hulking presence as you drew near! You can see that bloody thing for miiiiiiiiles. And you realize what a speck you are when you are even 10 miles away from it. Maybe more than 10. Basically I just drove with my mouth open, with no doubt drool pooling as a result. Am I drawing a picture about how huge this mountain is?

The Fourteeners and the bits of the Rockies I saw were kind of "eh" compared to how I felt about all the various Alps I had seen previously. The altitude in the Colorado valleys is already, what? 6000 feet? 7000 feet? Meaning those high-altitude mountains only appear 7000 feet higher than your ground floor. Machu Picchu is a whole different sensation because they are SO thick and rugged, the mountains just undulate all around you and you don't have a vantage point to stand back, at a low level, and just admire them. (I haven't finished sorting or posting my Peru photos yet, give me time).

Chamonix is at roughly 1000m and Mont Blanc is at 4810m. That works out to (hang on...) roughly 3250 in feet at the valley floor and roughly 15,600 feet at the top of Mont Blanc. With my rough math, that's 12000 feet of Alps staring you down. Even at the Aiguille du Midi, at 3842m, you are at roughly 12500 feet which is STILL 3000 feet lower than the top of Mont Blanc!

Some more perspective, if I may: a coworker had taken his son on a hiking expedition on Mont Blanc in 2010 when he graduated from high school. We compared notes when I got home (he climbed/hiked, I rode the cablecar, some comparison). At any rate, he told me that even from the Aiguille du Midi, his guess was that we were still a good mile, maybe even a mile and a half (as the crow flies) from the peak of Mont Blanc. Plus the elevation gain of course. Well, I am here to tell you, and I hope even one of these photos attest to it.. you feel like it is RIGHT THERE, that you can reach out and touch it, when you are at the top staring it down (or up, rather). To think that peak to peak, it may well be a mile or more away, STILL, is just gob-stopping.

OK, enough babbling. I arrived in Chamonix and parked at the first car park I found, which turned out to be the correct one. It's not hard to find, and given that it was off season it was empty. I thought I lucked out until I walked into town towards the cable car station.

Planning fail! The line, at 11 AM, was at least an hour and a half long. Had I given this more thought I probably could have gotten tickets ahead of time. Or maybe not. I didn't even bother to confirm that.

Your tickets come with a number and when that number is broadcast you better line up for the cablecar. The first cable car is pretty much still below the tree line, at least until the very top - and it's speedy. Each time we passed through a tower, it bounced a little and the car erupted with half-giddy, half-uneasy laughter. At the middle station you get out and wait for the second car (or wander around, your choice). The second car truly seems to be climbing straight up a sheer rock face, and if you are in front as I was, you feel like you are moving an inch an hour up that rock wall. You are very aware that the cable holding you on that sheer rock face looks like it's oh, an inch thick? Two inches? It's probably more than that though.

My new favorite French word: Profitez! As we descended from the cable car to the station, the car operator gestured with a smile and declaimed, "PROFITEZ". (Enjoy yourself, or, make the most of it...)

As you leave the station you get another number and are told a time to line back up. You get about an hour and a half. I wonder if you could get more if you asked for it. The elevator to the needle itself was down, so I didn't go all 3842m, but I probably went 3810m. Give or take.

It's cold up there (natch) even on a sunny mid-day, so definitely bundle up. There are a few places to eat (and there are bathroom facilities too. What do they do with the waste? Is there plumbing drilled into the mountain?)

Expect a headache and some vertigo. You just climbed almost 10000 MORE feet in less than half an hour. The food in the cafe was predictable (ie edible but nothing to write home about) and given that I hadn't eaten since 8 AM, I wolfed it down.

I enjoyed watching the various climbers from my vantage point, and I snapped several photos. I didn't post them all, don't worry. There are only 41 from that whole episode posted.

I headed down when my number came up. I lingered at the middle station for about 30 minutes. There were a lot of people hiking nearby. It looked like it would have been a good place to do an easy, no elevation gain hike as it was a small plateau. I had dinner reservations with Judy and Jim again, and I still wanted to visit some mountain passes on my drive home so I didn't stay very long.

Now we come to the <b>donkey</b> I mentioned. Below is a subset of the 41 Mont Blanc photos I posted. In at least two of them, there is a donkey. I am not making this up. Can you spot him? Poor donkey, whose idea was that I wonder!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...cablecar/show/

One (little) thing I always enjoy when train traveling, and now I can add "cable car" to it... when you are heading in one direction, fairly quickly, and a train/cable car is heading towards you fairly speedily.. it's fun to watch the distance close up. With a train you have the whoosh whoosh whoosh as you pass, which you don't have with the cable cars but nonetheless it's a cool sensation.

<b>Next: the drive back to Annecy.</b>
flygirl is offline  
Old Sep 24th, 2011, 05:08 PM
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I enjoyed your cable car ride photos. I was at Monte Bianco (as it is called on the Italian side) in July and considered taking the 5-stage cable car ride from le Thuile in Italy to Chamonix, but in the end, we preferred keeping our feet on the ground.

From Itay, the mountain is equally awesome when you round a bend and catch your first glimpse of it, and it remains no less awesome as you hike around and get more sweeping views.

Here is how it looks from the road in Italy (not my shot)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/sistoalpino/4627123367/

I had completely forgotten until I saw Mont Blanc that there is a dessert named after it. Done right, it is aptly named:

http://blogstew.net/foodfrenzy/desse...d-sweets/5886/
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Old Sep 25th, 2011, 05:13 AM
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Thank you zeppole! I considered going into Italy as well but just didn't have enough time.

<b>A mountain pass and a chateau</b>

After a brief stop at the gift shop (T shirts for the niece and nephew, me too) I headed back to Annecy. Instead of the more direct route I took a look at the Michelin map and opted for the "green line routes". As you know about Michelin maps, any road that has a green overlay is scenic. I headed towards Megeve/Flumet, and then up towards La Clusaz. This would take me through the Col des Aravis. One note: as I drove throuch St. Gervais les Bains, I thought it looked like such a pleasant village I wish I had time to stop and wander around. I didn't, so that is a place to return. If you visit this area, check it out.

The Col des Aravis has been crossed 39 (thirty nine) times in the Tour de France, including in 2010. Below are a few photos. You will get a great view of Mont Blanc from up here. The little chapel is named Chapelle Sainte Anne.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...esaravis/show/

These below photos were taken somewhere near Manigod. Not completely sure. They were before I made it to the outlook point for the Chateau Menthon St. Bernard. This valley is worth a detour. I hope this set of photos shows you that it's a good idea to rent a car on your trip, there is so much to see beyond the lakeside!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk.../manigod/show/

Here are a few photos of the Chateau St Bernard. Not all of them were from the drive. When I tagged the various photos, even the ones taken from the boat will come up.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...tbernard/show/

It was a beautiful drive home. I saw a number of cyclists on the drive. I saw cyclists every single day, of course. Some of them were not wearing helmets and were staying ahead of me, there in my car. That gives me fits. No, not the "staying ahead of me" part. I made it back with plenty of time to clean up for the 8 PM dinner reservations I had with Judy and Jim at Contre Sens.

This restaurant in Annecy is apparently a "little sister" of the Pere Bise restaurant found in Talloires which has a Michelin star. Judy did a lot of research on restaurants for this trip, and I was only too happy to follow along. I ate very well without really needing to do much research!

It is a modern bistro with an interesting menu concept. You have four categories, ABCD. You pick one dish from each, all the way from just A, to all of ABCD. The food was excellent, not traditional French, and very reasonably priced. It was Judy and Jim's wedding anniversary that weekend, and their daughter emailed me ahead of time to ask me if I would take a card to them to give to them during this dinner. Of course! She mailed it to me and I gave it to them during our dinner.

By the time we were done eating it was getting late and they had an early start as they were leaving for Lyon. I had my last day ahead of me, in Annecy. Here are some photos just from wandering around Annecy during my stay.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...lkannecy/show/

<b>Next: Wednesday. Last day in Annecy. Another mountain pass, watching some paragliders, and a boat ride.</b>
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Old Sep 25th, 2011, 05:27 AM
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Good morning! My jetlag had me awake at 4 AM. I perhaps misspoke during our trip (not wine related, I am sure) The restaurant Contre Sens is the bistro related to Clos de Sens, a michelin 2 star just outside of Lyon.

It was so kind of you to join us and carry the card from our daughters.....we realized later that you most likely mentioned our celebration to the restaurant. That explained the sparkler atop Jim's dessert and the candle in mine. It was a fun evening. Thanks for sharing it with us (and now with Fodors as I am so terrible at taking notes or writing trip reports)

Great report so far.....makes us realize we need to return.
Judy is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2011, 05:57 AM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Ooops, just outside of Annecy, not Lyon. See, I shouldn't be allowed to add to trip reports, much less write them!
Judy is offline  
Old Sep 25th, 2011, 01:55 PM
  #17  
 
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I was doing just what you were doing in the restaurant parking lot up on the plateau. Looking at my map and trying to figure out which buildings I was looking at corresponded to which buildings on the map. Yes, we need to get together and do some clean-up work on that map book. Lovely photos too. Looks like you were having some nice weather. Next time I need to ride my bike up and over the Col des Aravis.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2011, 04:51 AM
  #18  
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Hi Judy, it was my pleasure! So nice to meet all of you. I can tell you have a lot of fun together as a family. About the restaurant, I'm not sure, maybe I misheard? I admire you for all the good restaurants you select, and I sure wish I was with you in Paris, the restaurants you mentioned - wow! You really know Paris well. Love the photos you've posted so far, too.

FMT, Tuesday was just sheer perfection. We should do a hiking *and* biking book. I'd love to visit this area during the Tour de France madness, too.

<b>Last day in Annecy</b>

Wednesday was gloomy weather until mid-afternoon. I had Col de la Forclaz on my list for its stunning views of Lake Annecy, although I knew with the grey and low clouds they wouldn't be stellar. Nonetheless, I pressed on.

I skirted the eastern side of the lake and got slightly sidetracked when I stopped to watch some paragliders. There is a paragliding landing point right at the point where you will veer left on the road and head up up up to the Col. I stopped to watch them all coming in for a landing, along with 10 cyclists. When I saw the cyclists finally start to stir I decided to get moving - and instead of checking the map just followed them. I didn't realize I had reached the veer-off point, I figured the cyclists were doing the Col and I'd follow. Nope. They were just following the lakeside.

Backtrack... and up the hill. When I got to the top, there were many riders, of course, and a SAG wagon. It seemed that they were an organized group, perhaps in training because I heard them talking about their times. I wandered up to the Chalet la Priclaz. Most of the photos below were from there. Two photos were taken at the restaurant right at the Col itself - the ones with the green "running and jumping off" platform. Don't look down, just jump!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...aforclaz/show/

The weather really wasn't all that conducive to good photos of the lake. Very dull and low contrast. Next time.

I drove around the back roads again before heading back to Annecy, including another pass by the Chateau Menthon St. Bernard. I even drove up its driveway, but the gates were locked with a sign stating that the dogs were roaming free. Another "next time". I got back to Annecy too late for anything other than crepes for lunch (it was after 2 PM). The weather started to brighten up.

In the late afternoon I went for a boat ride:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...deannecy/show/

And more strolling around town in the late evening before dinner (video):

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...in/photostream

I thoroughly enjoyed my 4 days in Annecy. I wish I had more time, because I just got a taste of all it has to offer. There are many good restaurants and an enormous amount of outdoor fun to be had. If all I wanted to do was bike I wouldn't have run out of options in two weeks. Hiking, biking, boating, good food, photography - it has it all. You aren't far from Lyon, you aren't far from Geneva. You aren't even far from Burgundy. This would be a fantastic spot to spend an entire summer.

I found myself contrasting my experiences and the views with my "one true love", Lake Como. I have to say, having "dated" Lake Annecy briefly... I'm torn. Lake Como still has that special something: 50's glamour maybe, a little mystery... all those villas! and movie stars! More of the dolce far niente, maybe. The mountains directly near mid-lake of Lake Como seem more rugged than in Annecy, although as you move from both lakes that ratio may change. Annecy's lakefront mountains reminded me of what you find in Como, for instance.

Annecy seems like it has been groomed for quite some time for tourism, and I don't mean that in a bad way. It seems like a well oiled machine - anything you'd want to do, for fun, it's there and it's well organized. The TIs are chock full of information and there are oodles and oodles of operators/businesses who will help you do the fun things you came to do. It's a shame they lost the Olympics bid, because it seems very well geared to handle that.

Lake Como, by contrast, has a lot of outdoor activities to offer but you have to do a little more hunting. They aren't as well organized, and I don't get the sense you have quite as many operators. I had to do a bit of sleuthing to find things on my different trips to Lake Como and in Annecy it's all laid out for you. I'm not saying this is a bad thing either. It's a gap to be filled! A good place to do research on a hiking and biking book, too. hmmmmm....

<b>Tomorrow: An early train to Lyon. </b>
flygirl is offline  
Old Sep 26th, 2011, 04:33 PM
  #19  
 
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Flygirl, fabulous trip report and photos. Definitely makes me want to go there!
LouisaH is offline  
Old Sep 27th, 2011, 03:05 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jun 2009
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Thank you flygirl.

A great and detailed report, which brought brought back many happy memories.

I lived just outside Annecy for almost 3 years while waiting to obtain my Swiss Residency Permit, and I absolutely loved the area, and the superb restaurants, particularly those at the far end of the lake at Talloires.

In the summer it is really beautiful, and the flowers all around the canals set it off perfectly. The lake is so clean that you can drink the water, and I was able to keep my boat tied to the landing stage of the L'Auberge du Lac at Veyrier du Lac, just a short drive from Annecy 'centre ville', where many an excellent meal was enjoyed.

In the winter Annecy is a great starting point for skiing in the Trois Vallees, with a choice of a number of different places no more than 30 to 40 minutes drive away from which to enter the highly integrated lift system, and then ski all day without doing the same run twice !

I really enjoyed my time in that beautiful part of the Haute-Savoie, and the age I was then was the perfect time to be there.

Thanks again flygirl
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