David and I decided to go to Annecy because it looked like a quaint Alpine village and we figured we'd appreciate that after four days in bustling Paris. And mostly, we did (more on this later).
We left Paris at approximately 11:30 and settled in for the 3.5 hour train ride to Annecy. Some of us slept like princesses
While others of us read and ate chocolate:
By the time we got to Annecy and to our hotel room, it was time for some relaxation before we headed out to explore the town and grab dinner. Staying in a hotel after the apartment in Paris felt luxurious, and it didn't hurt that they gave us Speculoos cookies in our room each day we were there!
Annecy is a pretty small town, with approximately 53,000 inhabitants. In some ways, its a lot like Vail, Colorado, which in case you haven't been, is kind of a "fake" Alpine village. Only Annecy, of course, is a "real" Alpine village with cobblestone streets, lots of shops, and a similar kind of local culture. We walked by a bar that was clearly the kind of place that snowboarders and skiers hung out after a day on the snow.
Some of the highlights that we saw during our first outing in Annecy included:
The Palais de I'Isle, which is a twelfth-century structure that was used for a prison and is set on a river that runs through the city. It was last used as a jail during World War II, which I think is pretty interesting.
The Annecy Cathedral (at night):
And, a random street scape:
The next day we also happened upon a really adorable little boulangerie that had clearly been in business for some time:
Is that not, like, the most quintessential French bakery shot ever? I swear this could be in a French textbook. I really wish I would've gotten a picture of the baker himself, because it would complete the picture that we saw of a baker who has been doing the same thing, everyday, for a long time. That is one thing the French really do understand--that in some areas it's important to do one or a few things really well rather than trying to do a hundred different things and ending up with mediocre products.
These, my friends, were not mediocre, and were instead made by a man who understands perfectly how do them:
One interesting tidbit about French food customs that I should note here is that breakfast at a boulangerie like this one, or a cafe, is just about the only breakfast dining experience you'll find. I mean, aside from hotel breakfasts that are meant for tourists, there just aren't breakfast restaurants the way we have them here. The French, on the whole, do not dine out for breakfast, except for the odd croissant and cafe breakfast. You definitely won't find oatmeal on any menus, and you're more likely to find an omelet at lunch than at breakfast. Go figure. Next time we go to France we'll have to get an invitation to a French family's home so they can make us some of that French toast.
Speaking of French named foods, David found some frites on Lake Annecy!
This was probably the third time we'd had frites en France, and though I didn't taste these I can say that they didn't look like anything special. I think we really missed out on the French fry thing. I mean, what if they have fries in France that are on the level with the ridiculously good cheese in France?!! And we didn't have any of them--just a few mediocre versions of them!!
While David ate his fries we walked along Lake Annecy, which was probably the biggest draw of the city for us.
I sure would like to live on a lake or a river.
At this point we had been walking around for several hours, so we went off to the hotel for another hour or so of relaxing before heading out again for dinner. Unfortunately, there wasn't much in the way of vegetarian food in Annecy. A lot of the restaurants in Annecy, and in Paris for that matter, were heavy on the duck, beef, chicken, and seafood. In Annecy that meant that we ate pizza two nights in a row, since pizza was the easiest thing for us to make vegetarian.
Pizza the second night:
The best thing about pizza in France is that they bring you a bottle of flavored olive oil to drizzle on your pizza. It usually has a mixture of spices, as well as several hot chilies in it, making it somewhat spicy but not overly so. It.Is.So.Good.
Despite the yummy olive oil drizzling possibilities, I was opted for a salad instead:
Lucky for me it was topped with the best feta cheese I've ever eaten...
Up next: crossing borders to Switzerland, and more butter and cheese!
*How many nights in a row could you eat pizza without getting sick of it?