Summers in Europe are a big deal. Everybody wants to go on a holiday because the weather is just amazing. It also means that you get to wear less clothes :P, and absolutely no jackets! Which is quite relieving considering the fact that you’re mostly packed for the remaining part of the year. When we had just arrived, it was spring time, and still pretty cold. You couldn’t step out without a jacket and well covered shoes. But after a long wait, the summer finally arrived by the end of June (strange). And lucky us, it is still going on..
So, this time we went on a mini holiday to a place called Annecy. It is a small town located in the south of France, close to the French Alpes. It is located in the department of Haute-Savoie in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It is a perfect summer holiday destination in France. We spent four days here, and it was an absolute bliss. We only booked our train tickets and a “hostel” (just for experience) for our stay. For everything else, we just went with the flow. We had done a little bit of research of what is there in Annecy, and, so we had some ideas of what we wanted to do. Here is my itinerary for the four days that we were there.
We took an early morning Train à Grande Vitesse (TGV) from Paris’s Gare de Lyon which departed at around 8:00 am. One good thing about the trains here is that they start at the exact time mentioned. Not a minute early, and not a minute late. So you got be there on time, or else you miss your ride 😦
We reached Gare D’Annecy at around 11:00 am, and it was really hot! Being true the French tradition of walking.. we walked to our hostel. We obviously wanted to check in, dump our bags, rest for a while and then head straight out. This was the plan of action.. But, noooo…. we could only deposit our bags at the reception, take a tour of the hostel and come up with a different plan of action to kill time till 2:00 pm! So, we simply headed out to grab a bite and a cold drink. There was a list of restaurants pinned up at the reception soft board which was helpful, however, when we headed towards the old town of Annecy (Vieille Ville D’Annecy) there were n number of restaurants where we could sit and relax.
After spending a little time at the restaurant, we went to the office of Takamaka. Takamaka is an adventure sports company in Annecy. They offer a wide range of activities, but the one we were interested in is called ‘Canyoning‘. We booked us into the morning slot for canyoning, and then went back to the hostel for our check in.
Later in the evening after we were a little rested, we decided to take walk into the town and check out the famous Lac D’Annecy. It was beautiful indeed, with ducks, swans and people swimming in it… After our stroll, we grabbed dinner at Le Munich and called it a night. We had a long next day ahead of us.
We woke up early to get ready and set for our day of canyoning. It was around 7:00 am when we left the hostel to walk to the bus station. We were to take a bus to Angon on the outskirts of Annecy. It is about 10 kilo meters from the town. On reaching the place, it took us a while to figure out where the Takamaka rendezvous point was. It was good that the Takamaka guys had given us “coordinates” of this place, otherwise we wouldn’t have made it for the activity.
One thing about Angon is that, it is an excellent place for camping. As a matter of fact, Annecy is well known for its camping experience. It is ideal if you have a caravan, tents and camping tools of your own, so you can rent a spot around the lake for pretty cheap. But then a caravan and all the other gear is a major expense 🙂
When we reached the rendezvous point, we met other people with whom we were to do this activity, as well as our instructor. We were 10 people in the group. All the equipment required for this was provided to us – the wet suit, helmet, harness, and even socks. All we needed was to have a swimsuit on the inside and our own shoes. After we changed, we started our hike uphill to reach the top of the mountain. And believe you me! If you’re not a regular work out person, it could take a toll on you. I was so excited that I did not think I could feel so fatigued and so out of breath by the time I got to the top. I was embarrassed. A realization that my work outs need to get more rigorous. Don’t feel bad for me though! By the time I took my first dip into the water, I was up and energetic! I guess the water was all I was looking forward to.
This was a lot of fun! We jumped, slid, abseiled, and generally speaking swam around in the water. There were three descends for which we did abseiling. The first one was for 6 meters, the second for 18 meters and the third for 8 meters. Rest we just jumped or slid from the rocks into the water. It could be a little scary because the instructor gives you specific areas of where to jump and where not to… so you got to watch it a bit.
So, I don’t have any pictures of us doing the activity. Apparently having a camera to record your moves would cost an additional 25 Euros per person. And we had already spent a lot for this. So everybody in the group made their peace with no photos of this thrilling experience. Here is a video made by the company, just to give you a glimpse of what we did.
We started at 9:00 am, and by the time we were done it was 11:30. We were totally famished after this. We went back to the hostel, changed out of the wet clothes and off we were to grab a big meal. One draw back with the restaurants in Annecy is that they shut by 2:00 pm and re-open only by 6:30. When we set out for lunch, it was already 1:50, and restaurants weren’t entertaining us. After a long long long walk, we found a place which was open till 2:30 in place of 2:00. Notre Bonne Chance! We ordered for some Fondue, which is a popular delicacy of Annecy. We hogged and went back to the room to get some rest.
We woke up only by 7:00 pm. And so, we decided to head down to the hostel’s restaurant. A very well made set up. They had a pretty good bar, but a limited food menu. We weren’t very hungry so it didn’t matter to us. We had some drinks with some veg-chicken dish. We had a good time listening to some music and trying to get the attention of the dog there.
This day was about bicycles and swimming. We went back to Takamaka to rent two bicycles for the entire day. These guys took 18 Euros for each bicycle, along with a security deposit of 200 Euros (for both bikes). I thought this was expensive, even though they were cheaper than the other bike rental companies. Bikes can be rented in the Netherlands for 7.5 Euros per head for a day, with a security deposit of 20 Euros. So this definitely felt like a rip off.
We simply cycled around the lake, figured out a good spot from where we jumped into the lake and spent a great deal of time in the water.
After a good swim, we went around town, grabbed lunch. Saw Château D’Annecy (just from the outside). It was boiling hot, and the door of this castle was so breezy, that we decided to stay put :P. And besides, we were there for the lake and everything to do with the water, so a museum did not really appeal to us.
There was a gorgeous house at the foot this castle, which was decorated with antique looking furniture and fresh flowers..
In the evening (by 6:30 pm), we had to return our bikes at Takamaka, and get our deposit back (very important). So now, we were on foot again. We decided to go where the road takes us, which was again into the old town and then into the shopping area of Annecy. We also came across Église Notre-Dame-de-Liesse, a church built in the 14th century. It was a very beautiful church, and the bells kept ringing, so it felt like being in a historic movie of sorts. We couldn’t go inside because it was shut. So if you want to visit it properly, be there on time which is before 5:00 pm.
More of old town Annecy…
After roaming around so much, we simply sat at a small restaurant, ate some risotto with wine and called it a day.
Today the mini vacation was going to come to an end. We had our train back to Paris at 4:00 in the evening. Strangely, we had to check out by 10:00 am! Unbelievable! So we just checked out, and dropped our bags at the reception. We headed out to check out the flea market and take one last stroll around the lake. This was the last weekend of the month so there was a flea market set up throughout the old town. People were selling all kinds of items – food, clothes, shoes, art, jewelry, furniture, every other knick-knack. It was very interesting to just look around, and so I forgot to take pictures.
Our stroll round the lake one more time…
All in all..it was a real fun trip! And I guess we really needed it. Looking forward to more such fun trips coming our way 🙂
Now for some random clicks by my Husband, Nitin Kumar…