Back in high school, in my French III class, one day we were assigned a project where we had to present a city in France. My teacher showed us a brief slide show of some examples of different cities, and one town in the Alps caught my eye. In the photo you could see a footbridge over a canal of turquoise water with a pot of flowers hanging over the railing. In the background, there were colorful buildings, a tiny castle on an island, and mountains in the distance. Instantly, I knew I had to choose this city for my project and hopefully visit someday. The mountain town in question was of course Annecy, France. Eventually, I did visit several years later on my first solo trip in France.
Four years later, I decided to go back to Annecy on another solo trip, but during the summer this time. When I visited before, it was in February so I couldn’t enjoy all the activities the lake had to offer. After finishing my first year teaching at my new school, I wanted to get out of Paris and enjoy some nature. My first thought was to go to the beach in the south of France, but they can be crowded this time of year. Luckily train tickets and accommodation in Annecy weren’t too expensive, so I decided to treat myself and book a 4-day solo tip.
Since I saw and did so much in those four days, I’ve decided to make multiple posts about the trip, detailing what I did each day. Plus I’m planning to make another post just about the itinerary, so make sure to follow the blog if you’re organizing your own trip to this corner of France soon.
The least expensive ticket I found to Annecy was on a Wednesday morning at ten minutes to six. I actually was planning on Tuesday, but looking at the weather forecast, I decided to move my trip down a day because I did not want it to rain during the majority of the stay, especially because I planned on swimming and hiking. Thankfully, tickets were still affordable a week before I was supposed to leave, so I didn’t loose any money and was able to smoothly exchange the tickets on the SNCF app. On the way there I had a train from Paris to Lyon, then another from Lyon to Annecy. For the way back found a direct TGV under 4 hours from Annecy to Paris on Saturday evening. I was also almost late to the train station in Paris because the metro I was supposed to take didn’t open until 5:30 AM since there was construction in the evening, luckily I made it to my first train 5 minutes before it left!
There were some strikes going on however so one of my connecting trains was canceled. I found a bus from Lyon to Annecy though, so I booked that just in case there was no autocar to replace my cancelled train. There was no information on the app about a replacement bus, but when I arrived in Lyon, the conductor announced what platforms connecting trains would be on and he mentioned the bus. I had about ten minutes to get to the bus and I asked the driver if this bus was replacing the cancelled train and he said yes. I decided to get on and arrive in Annecy earlier rather than taking the bus later in the morning. I couldn’t cancel the bus ticket I had already bought, so in the end I did loose 14€, but it was still nice to have just in case I missed the first bus, which I only had 12 minutes to get to before it left.
My bus arrived in Annecy at around 10:30 AM and I headed straight to the Tourist Office to see if they had any information about hikes in the area. The woman helping me didn’t give me a lot of info herself, but rather told me about the Via’Annecy App which had itineraries on it. I then got a message from my Air Bnb hosts saying my room was ready, so I asked if I could check in early and they said yes. It was about a 20 minute walk to their house from the city center, but they also told me the line 5 bus went there and that it was free in July and August! On the way there, I also stopped in a Carrefour super market to grab some peanut butter, bread, and bananas for breakfasts and lunches on the go.
Once I dropped my stuff off in the room, I put on my swimsuit under my clothes, backed my beach bag and headed back out. I enjoyed snapping lots of photos of the old town, especially since there were flowers everywhere! In the winter, I wasn’t able to see them so it made me really happy this time. I also had fun remembering where I went before and seeing the mountains without snow on them.
By this time, I was getting pretty hungry so I decided to look for a lunch spot. After circling down the little streets a couple of times, I decided to go back to a little coffee shop that had caught my eye earlier. It turned out to be an Australian coffee shop called Haven and I got the brunch special for 26€. Brunches in Paris are around a similar price and sometimes not very satisfying. This brunch however was probably the best brunch I’ve ever had in France! I had brioche with a side of raspberry jam, some kind of fresh pressed juice (guava maybe), a spring sourdough toast with herbed cream cheese, peas, strawberries, picked radish slices, and salad greens, an iced chocolate, and a fluffy pancake topped with a subtil basil whipped cream, nectarine and apricot slices, and the tastiest coulis. It was for sure a lot of food, but hey, I was carboloading for the hike I wanted to do the next day!
When I finished brunch, I walked to the beach to go for a swim. There are several beaches along the lake, but I wanted to go to one that was free and not far from the city center on foot. I found la Plage des Marquisats and got there in about fifteen minutes leaving from the old town. There is a section of the water that is surveyed by a lifeguard and roped off, which is a good option for families. I walked down a little bit further to a calmer area and found a spot on the grassy beach in the shade.
After lathering myself with La Rosée sunscreen, which I should have verified was water resistant before packing on my trip, I headed straight for the water. I tiptoed carefully across pebbles and rocks, into the lake. The water was the perfect temperature – not too cold, but cool enough to be refreshing on a hot summer day. I felt such bliss floating around and swimming amongst the funny black and white birds and gazing at the mountains in the distance.
Once I went in the water a couple of times and dried off, I meandered my way back to la Vieille Ville in search of an ice cream. I remember fellow American Blogger in France, Kristen went to Annecy last year so I read up on what she did. I think it’s fun to see where other bloggers go and check out their recommendations, so I went to an ice cream shop she raved about for an afternoon treat. I picked out a cone with one scoop of strawberry mascarpone ice cream and one scoop of blood orange sorbet. It was heavenly.
Since I still had a little bit of time left before dinner I decided to do some window shopping. I went though all the touristy shops looking for souvenir ideas for family and friends. I would have loved an Annecy t-shirt for myself, but I wasn’t really into the designs on the few tees I could find. It was alright though since I’d have lots of memories and photos to look back on.
At 7 PM the shops closed, so I figured it was time for dinner. I didn’t really research places to eat beforehand, but I wasn’t worried about finding something. While browsing google maps I came across a taco place not far from the lake with good reviews. As a typical American in France, I miss having access to good Mexican and Tex-Mex food, so I decided to give La Taqueria a try. I was glad I found a table when I did because the restaurant filled up fast. I ordered a raspberry mojito and a first for me… fish tacos. If you know me you might be thinking, ” wait a minute, Camden – aren’t you a vegetarian?”
There are some vegetarians (pescatarians) that do consume seafood, but I’m not one of them. I guess I just wanted to try something different. The veggie sweet potato tacos on the menu looked good, but I just wanted something with a little more protein for once. Funnily enough my server accidentally brought me the veggie tacos at first. There are so many ways to get sources of plant protein, but sometimes restaurants don’t always have the most balanced veggie meals. Will I eat more fish in the future? Maybe. It didn’t taste as strong as I thought it would and it didn’t make me feel sick after eating it. I still don’t love the idea of eating animals, but I guess I feel less weird about eating a non-mammal. There’s also the concern for overfishing in the ocean. If I’ve learned anything from the French though, it’s that it’s okay to enjoy things in moderation.
Because I ate dinner close to the lake, I chose to stay out a little bit later for the sunset. I walked along la quai de la Tournette to see the mountains across the water turn from blue and gray to pink and orange. I thought back to my first time in Annecy when I saw the sunset for the first time here and was as equally enchanted by the view. I couldn’t stop smiling.
That concludes day one of my summer solo trip to Annecy. If you made it this far thanks for reading! This is for sure a more wordy travelogue-style post than the guides I usually write.
À la prochaine,