Annecy is built alongside a beautiful lake, and to appreciate this lake, we cycle around it and paraglide over it. Atop our rented orange cruisers, Lindsey and I take to the lake’s bike path.The path is crowded with other cyclists, walkers, runners, and rollerbladers.The sun comes in and out of the clouds, making it really quite warm.We stop frequently for pictures, cherries, and the occasional dip in the lake.We end the ride hungry and sweaty, and ready to find a hearty sandwich made of mostly baguette.
The following day, we soak up the same view from a few thousand feet in the air tied to a parachute (and also tied to someone who knows what he’s doing).This paragliding route is so popular that there is an air traffic control person on take-off and landing.I calm myself a little by estimating how many gliders there must be every year, and decide that it has got to be safe.But still with a lot of adrenaline, I run off the equivalent of an alpine black-diamond ski slope.Shortly after, my heart rate slows just a touch as I settle into my seat, but given my intense fear of heights, I never totally calm until landing.The rush of air around us, the view of the lake below, being at the same level as the alpine peaks, and sharing this rush together makes for an amazing 30 minutes!
Annecy at its surface is a wonderful resort town nestled in the French Alps, fun in the summer, fun in the winter. Filled with cafes, ice cream stands, old shop-lined streets, and picturesque little restaurants, the town is snuggled next to Lake Annecy and surrounded by the towering mountains of the Alps. When we try to describe the town in one word, “pleasant” easily comes to mind. The weather is perfect, the sun is out, life seems slow but stimulating, and all seem to be smiling.
With all of this, it is easy to forget or not even acknowledge its profound history at almost any point starting all the way back with the Romans.This little town sat at the crossroads of three Roman routes, and therefore a very strategic position both before and after the Romans ruled.Then in the Middle Ages, it was part of the Holy Roman Germanic Empire.In the 16th Century, it played a big role in the Protestant Reformation, when the historic diocese of Geneva moved to Annecy.The area didn’t escape the French Revolution either – the ideas were well known among the bourgeois of Annecy and in 1972, French troops invaded.During WWII, the area was invaded by the Germans and Italians, which eventually led to the Germans taking control over the whole area.And today, it is one of France’s most visited cities, which we can attest to by the number of French tourists in the narrow streets.
While here, we definitely have a bunch planned, but we are also hoping to slow down a step.Spend a little longer at breakfast and lunch. Meander through a couple more streets than we may normally do. Sit on a stoop or next to the lake and just absorb our surroundings.We love staying busy, but a couple deep breaths seem to be encouraged by this town, and we’re excited to do exactly that.
After a wonderful weekend in Princeton, meeting my newest nephew for the first time and celebrating a milestone birthday for my pops, we continue eastward to France. We arrive just after noon, rent a cherry red Fiat 500, somehow figure out how to escape Charles De Gaulle airport, and start heading towards Annecy in Southeastern France.
With some French tunes playing through Spotify’s French Café Lounge playlist, we are getting ourselves in the spirit.Along the way, we have planned to enjoy the French country, the terroir of some of the most valuable and delicious wine in the world.Driving through Burgundy, we find ourselves in Vezelay. Vezelay is a small hilltop town around since ancient times, and its famous Romanesque Basilica of St. Magdelene has made it a UNESCO World Heritage site.
We wander through town, step into the main church to warm choir music, and sit down to enjoy a meal outside of an enchanting green-painted restaurant.We quickly learn that the menu isn’t too helpful without an English speaking waiter, thus we wait a bit for someone to come by.Although the meal is complete with some salad, well-prepared fish, and wine, we are easily most thrilled by the cheese plate.