Forget a pool-side resort or a month-long cruise. To lose yourself in the beauty of summer, head to the French town of Annecy, just south of Geneva and the Swiss border, where sun, mountains, and lakes come in a million hues of blue, gray and green.
Our two-day visit there this summer left me stunned and wishing that I had come sooner to benefit from weeks of this cozy city of just 50,000 inhabitants.
We were welcomed by a friend with whom we spent a lazy afternoon picnicking on the lake and staring out over the glistening light blue waves. Then we rented a pedal boat from a wide choice of vendors, rode out to the middle, and enjoyed a panoramic view of the surrounding mountains and the other boats of all types and sizes.
Later, we took in that same view, but this time from atop the Col de la Forclaz at 1157 meters of altitude and a quick, twenty-minute climb from the lake. Apart from the landscape, entertainment included the amused observation of an endless stream of paragliders sailing into the wind from a take-off pad nearby. Annecy is one of the few locations in the world that has perfect conditions for paragliding: its rock formations allow for upward drafts of air that set the paragliders on their way. We sat and watched for hours, weighing the pros and cons of the sport, in admiration of its enthusiasts and wondering if we would ever find enough courage to give it a try.
Then it was back to town to savor some specialties of Annecy’s Rhône-Alpes region, including tartiflette. Though it is understandably a winter dish- it is essentially composed of potatoes topped with thick layers of various melted cheeses- the long hours in the sun and water had worked up enough appetite to enjoy it with salad and few glasses of white wine. We followed it with heaping ice cream cones from a choice of what seemed like hundreds of ice cream vendors in the small cobblestone streets, which teem with tourists of all ages and nationalities during the summer months.
The next day, we meandered through the downtown area with our friend and excellent guide. Our tour started near the lake, whose shores wash right up to a small park in the city. Then it was a march through the historic district, a cross of Alsace’s brightly colored buildings, Swiss chalets, and typical French cobblestone streets. Its charming canal winds lazily through gaping tourists, scores of restaurants, movie theaters and wine shops. The fact that everything one would need is packed into such a small city, combined with the nature that surrounds it, has given me yet another option for an ideal place to settle down in France…