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Annecy, Mont Blanc, and then some city lights

Annecy, Mont Blanc, and then some city lights

Old Sep 27th, 2011, 07:26 AM
  #21  
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Thank you Louisa and David!

David, so good to hear from someone who lived there. It's a beautiful part of the world and I really want to go back and slow down and explore. Comparing Annecy to Lake Como again, I think St. Moritz might be the closest ski area and that is a few hours drive, if memory serves.

For anyone who is still reading this, at the very end of the TR (I still have Lyon and Paris to go), I will post what I think are the "top 15 best photos" that I took on this trip. That is probably easier than wading through 100 photos (and the 100 posted are just in Annecy/Mont Blanc, so far).
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Old Sep 27th, 2011, 11:55 AM
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I'm still reading!
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Old Sep 27th, 2011, 01:09 PM
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Hello flygirl

You have a great choice of ski stations close to Annecy.

Probably the two closest are La Clusaz (only 19 miles from Annecy) and Le Grand-Bornand which is a little further away.

Both ski stations give access to the highly integrated lift system of the Trois Vallees the with over 400 miles of slopes and 180 plus ski lifts so, as I said before, you can ski all day and never do the same run twice.
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Old Sep 27th, 2011, 02:59 PM
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I'm still reading too.
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 03:25 AM
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I won't have more stories and photos until tonight (prepping for a presentation this morning) but thanks for continuing to read!

David, it sounds like it would be a dream in the winter time. I imagine the lake is beautiful from the Col de la Forclaz viewpoint, then, too.
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 08:42 AM
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I'm still reading too. We're in Paris now after spending a couple of days in Lyon, an overnight in Annecy, and a week in Beaune. Your photos of the Semnoz plateau are wonderful. We followed FrenchMystiqueTours' driving directions from Aix-les-Bains to Annecy via the Semnoz and even though the weather was somewhat iffy, it was a beautiful day's drive.

Annecy seemed pretty "touristy" to us, but it is certainly a pretty town in a pretty place. I love Lake Como, too, but they seem very different essentially.

I'm more familiar with the Italian side of Mont Blanc, having lived in Torino and spent time in Courmayeur. The whole Alpine region, both French and Italian, is spectacular and worth a visit. Really enjoyed Zeppole's trip report of the Val d'Aosta.

Enjoying your trip report and look forward to reading more.
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Old Sep 28th, 2011, 06:36 PM
  #27  
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Lyon in an afternoon.

Yes, you read that right. The problem with short vacations (7 nights) is that no matter how many times you tweak it, it's like trying to cram that extra pair of shoes into your carryon along with your laptop and a few days worth of clothes, and a camera. Something is going to suffer. The smart thing would be to leave something out, but, you don't want to do that.

I found out that I had a choice of an 8 AM train or a 9 AM BUS to Lyon. I needed to be in Lyon in enough time to meet Judy and Jim at Maison Clovis for lunch, which meant I had a choice: get up too early, or sit on a bus. It probably was a nice bus, but I decided to take the early train. 6 AM wakeup call and off I went.

I should state up front that the extent of my research into Lyon extended to the post I made here about "where should I eat" and I didn't go to any place mentioned. I knew so little about Lyon, in other words, that I had NO idea that TWO rivers ran through it. (Take that, Brad Pitt). The Saone, and the Rhone. Anything I post here I learned on the fly, or through googling info about the photos that I took. I didn't even have a guidebook although I did stop at the TI which was very near my hotel. FMT, I think I have you beat in the "not knowing about my destination" department.

I was to meet Judy and Jim at 1 PM at Maison Clovis, which I think is in the 6eme and near the large park, the Parc de la Tete d'Or. I think it was a Michelin one-star restaurant. Judy will keep me honest!

So, I had a little bit of time as it was barely 1030 by the time I arrived at the hotel. The Hotel La Residence was recommended by StCirq, and what a great location! It was on a pedestrian street that led to the Place Bellecour, and, if you turned the corner and walked up the regular street to the SAONE, you came to a pedestrian bridge that took you to Vielle Ville. The hotel was very clean and the bedroom was medium-big. Not tiny, not huge, a decent size for what seemed to be a double and the bathroom had a tub so that was acceptably-sized as well. I would say the hotel could use a renovation, but it didn't detract from the basics we all want from a hotel: clean and central. For 88 euros, not bad at all.

I dumped my stuff (room was all ready at 1030 AM) and took off. I wandered the various shopping streets until about noon. I have to say, if you want to go shopping, Lyon is a good place to go. I saw a lot of designer names I recognized and I really should have bought that Tara Jarmon dress. Really. I didn't want to stuff things into my already too full bags, so I just looked. No buying.

After some aimless wandering, I took a taxi to Maison Clovis to meet Judy and Jim. I have to say, Judy knows how to pick the restaurants and I dearly wish I had two weeks in Paris with them because I heard about some of the places they selected (wow). We ordered from their lunch menu, and, the food was excellent. I had pork cheeks (or belly, now I forget - but I think cheeks) as my main, and I cannot remember the starter now. I am sorry I am not much of a restaurant "reviewer".. I can just say it was really, really good and I'd go back. I took a picture of the wacky light fixtures. Judy, I found out they consider them to be CLOUDS. I thought it looked like they took mattress covers and fashioned them around a light cage, or something. Take a look below.

After lunch we walked up to the Park and walked around. It has a zoo on the premises so we watched the monkeys for a while, and then as we walked back some deer.

Photo break: before lunch, those crazy light fixtures, and some deer in the big park. The slideshow shows them out of order. I have a few food photos (of a deli, NOT the restaurant) and well as some fantastic TEAL wrought iron railings! The slideshow is out of order.

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

After we made our way back to our hotels, I decided to walk to the Vielle Ville. So close! Across the foot bridge, and there I was. The small church is St. Georges. I walked up the steep hill, then back down again, and then over to the funicular. I had no coins! To get coins, I had to chug an Orangina at a bar at the base of the hill. On a dare. (kidding: I coerced the waitress into giving me coins if I chugged, er, bought an Orangina). Very full of Orangina, I ascended the hill in style.

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

Up to the top, and then the Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere (remember, google is my friend).

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

This is a stupendous viewpoint for Lyon. I also got a video of a service inside the Basilica. Ooooh, love the harmonious singing.

As I wandered around the grounds, I saw a large group of 20-somethings, dressed in togas and carrying "things". Things like cases of Orangina (what did you think, cases of...) and notebooks and boxes and other stuff. They walked right by me and down the hill. I followed them, not too close lest I be indoctrinated or something.

They ended up at the Roman Theater of Fourviere (google) and then I'm not sure what happened. They were just milling around, and then I heard cheering but not from them. It was nearby, and I guess it was coming from the other Roman theatre nearby - the Ampitheatre de Trois Gaules. Then, all of a sudden youngsters (listen to me) came running from that general direction carrying PLATES. Why plates? Beats me. They ran up the steps/seats of the theater. Utterly no idea what was going on. They all had white plates though. The plate carriers did not have togas. I finally left to walk back to my hotel.

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

I met Judy and Jim around 730 PM at the Sofitel (their lovely hotel) for a drink. After eating like a piglet all week, and the big lunch, I just wasn't hungry for dinner. I know, I know. I finally get to Lyon and I skipped dinner. Someone beat me, really. No, really.

Friday morning: off to Paris!
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 02:33 AM
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Great recall of the day, Beth!! I looked at your photos first and knew that fluffy thing was from the restaurant ceiling.

We went to the Roman Theater the next day and all of the bizarre people, plates and orangina were gone.....good thing you have photographic proof as it's quite an odd story!

Jim & I did eat a lot this trip (and consume a lot of wine)!
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 07:52 AM
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Great report and photos - keep it coming!
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Old Sep 29th, 2011, 04:16 PM
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You know me well flygirl, I looove not knowin'! Really though, with only 1 day in a big city like Lyon, where you need at least 3 or 4 days just to scratch the surface, you just head for the city center or the most well known points of interest and walk around and everything will present itself to you. If someone did no research and came to Paris for a day then they could just head to the city center and walk along the Seine and everything they would need to keep them content for a day could be found right along the river within a 5-10 minute walk from either bank.

I proved this point yet again today when I went to Crécy-la-Chapelle and biked from there to Coulommiers. I just showed up in Crécy, went to the tourist office and stole (okay, they were free) about 15 or 20 brochures (none of which I read until the train ride home) and started riding. I know Crécy is one of the day trips in the popular Annabel Simms book "An Hour from Paris (which I've never read cuz' I love not knowin') and I'm quite sure I saw and learned about everything she described without missing a thing. See, I just proved it. You don't need to do any research to have a good time traveling.

BTW, I had a fantastic bike ride today. The weather was gorgeous and the scenery was stunning. I'll have a report up in about a week so you can hear all about what I didn't learn.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 06:34 AM
  #31  
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I'm back! Thanks for still reading. FMT, that's right - in one day, knowing too much might be paralyzing, you'd feel that you had to do this, this, and this, and where to start? Just wandering and window shopping was fine.

In Paris again, yay! Friday.

As I mentioned earlier, I switched banks. With the possible exception of a visit when I was 16 (meaning chaperones and someone else was in charge of arrangements), I have never stayed on the right bank before, and the aforementioned trip many years ago I just have no idea where we stayed. It is lost to time.

But, not only did I stay on the right bank, I didn't even venture to the left bank and THAT is clearly a first for me.

I chose the Hotel Mansart for this visit, and I like this hotel so much, and its location too, that I might have to make this home for the next few visits so that I feel I've taken advantage of what this location has to offer. It's certainly in the middle of some fantastic shopping! Place Vendome (and the Ritz) are bang around the corner. It's a pleasant walk over to Rue Montorgueil (which I discovered for the first time in April).

I believe the hotel was recently renovated. The room was probably a bit bigger than my usual room at the Hotel des Grands Hommes (I ask for the same room at the HdGH, because the bathroom is huge with a big window) but, the Mansart bathroom was smaller - think "galley" - long and narrow - and in fact I don't think that would have bothered me EXCEPT they put the large (and probably heated) towel rack directly in front of the toilet/large shower which meant it was a bit of an obstacle when leaving the shower. Had they moved it just two feet, closer to the door, it would have been no issue at all. It wasn't dreadful, but just a tweak to the design would have made it no issue. The bed/bedding was fantastic. Very comfortable bed, big fluffy pillows (and lots of them), down comforter, etc. It's hard to describe but you know when you go to a hotel with a really well made-up bed, you just think "ahhhh". It was like that. Here are two photos:

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

Here is their website: http://www.esprit-de-france.com/en/

I arrived at the hotel around noon, dropped my bags, and took off for a walk. I had lunch at l'Ardoise, not far away. This is funny: in either April or January, I visited what I thought was l'Ardoise based on a Time Out recommendation. Well, because of the signage placement I found that I had walked into the little bistro next door, instead! I had no idea until this visit. The same little dog was at the bistro I had visited (so cute!) and afterwards, I hate to say it, but I enjoyed my bistro meal from earlier this year a little more than l'Ardoise. Both were very good though, so you can't go wrong.

After that more wandering. I followed a David Lebovitz recommendation and made my way to G. Detou. I was on a mission to find Prune stuffed Prunes! Do not scoff, they are fantastic. Here is his reco:

http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2011/06...-dagen-fourre/

In retrospect I should have bought many more foodstuffs because I ended up, yet again, buying a suitcase to drag purchases home. In fact I just looked at my photos from the store and thought "what a dummy, I took photos but didn't snap these things up" - caramel au beurre sale, including the squirty kind to put on ice cream, etc. I have an enormous collection of big, cheap suitcases at home from over the years (actually not so cheap given the XC rate) and in fact some of them are quite good for regular usage. I think on my next trip to Paris I am just going to check two suitcases even if they are both partly empty because I clearly cannot leave Paris without overloading the bags I brought.

On the walk back to the hotel I passed a wine bar (O Chateau) where I was to meet a friend at 430 PM, which was convenient because now I didn't have to sort out where it was.

After dropping my stuff at the hotel, I went back to the wine bar to meet my friend, BA. It was nice to finally meet her! She used to be on Fodors but now she is on another forum I visit but we had never met in person. We talked for a long time and ended up (later) at Au Pied du Cochon (Onion Soup!). More on that later.

I can't say enough good things about O Chateau. It's fairly new and I'm especially impressed that the owners are so young - I don't even think they are 30 yet! They met in business school. Olivier had the idea for the whole enterprise - this guy sounds like a real mover and shaker - he's written a book on Parisians (which I bought), he's done various TV shows as well as educational videos... His partner Nicolas (whom I met and he told me all this stuff), oh la la, what a cutie. Ladies, just to go there and talk to Nicolas is reason enough to go, sod the wines! But I digress. Anyway, Nicolas seems to be "the guy on the ground" at the wine bar, and Olivier is the idea man and the rainman.

The concept is this: they put really excellent wines on offer with a few sizes and priced by size. IIRC, it was 3 oz, 7 oz, and 10 oz. These are some serious wines! I had a St Emilion Grand Cru, a Sauterne, and my first one was the lightest and now I cannot remember what it was. I am pretty sure it was a white Burgundy (chardonnay, in other words). BA had the first one with me, but after that we each diverged - she had two other reds. I looooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooove Sauternes so that was easy - I would have had it first but you don't have the heaviest first. We checked out the list - one wine (which I should have written down, it was either a 60-something, or a 74?) was 60E for the 3 oz!! The 10oz was 200E. That was clearly a "show off" wine, the other ones were much more reasonably priced. BA and I each had 30 oz (3, 10 oz tastings) of very exceptional wines (meaning slightly more than a glass each) and I picked up the check - it was, IIRC, 48E. Yes, I know that isn't cheap - but as I mentioned, these are fantastic wines. It's almost a ceremony to get little tastings, one by one, too - instead of sitting there to gulp wine and chat, you slow down and think about/talk about the wines you are having. Well, plus we kept finding excuses to bring Mr. Dreamy back to our table to chat with us. Since it was so early they were not busy so that was easy.

Here is a blurb on their website:

"Our selection of wines is ever-changing in order to offer you the best of the best: with 40 wines by the glass and over 500 by the bottle, you’ll be astounded by the choice and variety here at O Chateau. On any given evening, wines served by the glass may include Château Pétrus, Château d’Yquem, Dom Pérignon, Krug, Château Margaux. And a selection of great exciting winemakers: Mark Angeli, Jean-Marc Roulot, Thierry Germain, Jean-Michel Deiss, Luc de Conti, Laurent Combier… Also, plenty of outsanding old vintage to try: 1982 Bordeaux, 1996 Burgundies…"

http://www.o-chateau.com/

OK, enough of that, I think you get the picture!

We were hungry and in fact BA had just landed that morning so she was tired, too. We started talking about food and since we were so near Au Pied du Cochon, and, I had never been, we said "why not" and walked over. I guess it's open 24 hours and it was still early enough there was no wait.

On our walk she showed me a few things she had passed on her walk over to the wine bar. In walking down a street, she caught a glimpse of St Eustache from a really cool angle. I went back the next day to snap a photo, but, here are the photos right now of that angle. There are actually three photos, the two that look like it's peeping out of hiding are the ones I was referring to. The other one I took in April.

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

We lucked out and were able to sit outside (it wasn't even 7 PM yet) The onion soup was out of this world. I know this place is touristy - but it's an institution, and it's in a beautiful building. Its website calls it a "mythic brasserie" and I would agree.

By the time we left it was dark and BA went her way, and I walked back to my hotel. Place Vendome at night it beautiful, by the way.

Next: Saturday in Paris, Opera Garnier, meanderings, and an evening drink with my new friends in their stunning Ile St Louis apartment-for-a-week.
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Old Oct 1st, 2011, 09:02 AM
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Your hotel is just up the street from our May apartment! It looks lovely.
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Old Oct 2nd, 2011, 07:04 PM
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flygirl....

I am still with you. I've got to say thanks for the lead on this wine bar. I'll be in Paris in December and this place sounds just "up my alley". I've put the name in my research notes. You know me, always looking for a good wine bar and this one sounds like a keeper!

I am happy to see I am not the only one who has a closet full of suitcases purchased abroad! In the last 18 months I have purchased suitcases in Paris, Rome and Chiang Mai, Thailand. I'm seriously considering packing my 21 inch rolling bag into my 25 inch rolling bag for this December trip....I can't pass up the mustards at the Maille shop in Place Madeline!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 11:53 AM
  #34  
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Judy, I'd love to see that apartment too!

LowCountryIslander, you will LOVE the wine bar. Had I stayed longer, I would have gone back again.

Yep, I have tons of suitcases. I should give them away as gifts. Too many!

I notice that no one has found the donkey in one of my photos yet. Anyone?
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Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 03:10 PM
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flygirl, let us know if you have plans to be in Paris any time between 5/5 and 5/19.....we'd love to see you there and have you visit the apartment!
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Old Oct 3rd, 2011, 04:23 PM
  #36  
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Judy, I will for certain - I might even have to plan a trip then, hmmmm. You all would be a hoot to hang out with!

About the donkey. Here is a crop from a tiny part of the photo he is in. I hope this works.

http://farm7.static.flickr.com/6122/...208e27bc_o.jpg
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Old Oct 4th, 2011, 05:03 AM
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Here are a few more photos of Annecy I just uploaded. From wanderings around town. All taken with my S90. Not as pleased with the picture quality as with the 7D, but not bad.

There are a few night shots of the Palais de l'Isle as well as a good one showing how hard the rain was coming down the first day.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/skywalk...leftover/show/
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 04:03 AM
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Love the photos! We had coffee at the cafe across from the Palais de l'Isle.

You may have tired of writing this trip report, especially as your Saturday didn't start out as you planned. Will you post your Paris photos though, please?
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 08:06 AM
  #39  
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Hi Judy

I will definitely finish the report - I'm in the home stretch. I just haven't had time at home to do more writing. Plus I haven't fully sorted the Paris photos. Almost done..

Thanks for continuing to read!
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Old Oct 6th, 2011, 08:58 AM
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flygirl...

I booked a wine tasting at O Chateau for one of the nights we'll be in Paris. I picked an evening early in the trip, so if we like it, we will have time for a second (or third, or fourth) visit! ;-)
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