annecy, france - picnic in the woods, swim in the lake, sleep in the mountains

Ahhh, August in Eurpoe: offices are deserted, outdoor cafes are full, sidewalks are jammed, priced are jacked, queues are outrageous, hoards of tourists abound. It is hell.

We did the whole "two weeks in Italy in August" last summer, and it was one of the main reasons that this year we did most of our travel in the shoulder seasons. (Except for Croatia, in July, where we were joined by the entire country of Australia.)

By the time August rolled around, all our big trips were over and done. But I was still on summer vacation from grad school, and determined to squeeze every inch out of it. So every weekend in August, we packed the car full of picnic supplies and swimming trunks and hit the road.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

A three-and-a-half-hour drive later, et voilà: Lac d'Annecy, with its "stunningly turquoise" waters (the locals proudly swear you can drink right from the lake), surrounded by towering Alpine views.

The northern part of the lake, near the actual town of Annecy (very beautiful and charming old pastel buildings covered in bright blooming flowers with a canal running through it), is very developed and.. crowded.

Lac d'Annecy, France

This would not do.

So we kept driving to Talloires, on the eastern side of the lake, where I'd heard there was a secret swimming spot accessible by hike through dense woods.

We parked at a golf course, loaded up with bags of picnic stuff, and trekked for about 2 hours, on an extremely hot day, with absolutely no map and no markers to follow, completely clueless about where we were going.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

The entirety of our directions was the single sentence: "Make a left at a two-trunked tree." We were in a wild forest. Every six steps there was a two-trunked tree. I helpfully pointed out every single one we saw to Alex, announcing "Two-trunked tree!"

So Alex was annoyed and I was annoyed and then, suddenly, we found our turn, and descended down to the lake and.... voilà: paradise.

We ripped off our sweaty clothes, left our frustration on the shore, and dove in.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France


Alex and I were total kids: "Let's go again! And again! And again!"

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France
 ^ This reminds me so much of growing up and hanging out with my older brother and his friends. Whatever the guys did, I did -- all the dirt bike jumps, playing in the forbidden creek (sorry Mom), hopping fences, tree climbing, roller hockey... Whenever there is a group of guys doing guy stuff, I am there (see: rock climbing in Barcelona).

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France


 When we realized our bellies were grumbling, we nabbed a good spot and set out our picnic.


SOMEONE forgot to bring the beers and the bubbly, and we know it wasn't me, because I would never.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

A picnic with a view.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

And digestion with a view, too.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

The late afternoon sun was a sign we needed to start our ascent back to the car, and head to camp. Cue tearful goodbyes.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

We drove on down the lake, and stopped near the town of Entrevernes. Nestled at the base of the mountains was our home for the night: a teepee...

Teepee, Lac d'Annecy, France

...with a HAMMOCK. Dreams DO come true, guys.

Alex is more along the "four star hotel with room service and silk bathrobes" spectrum. I am fully a "teepee with hammock in the mountains" girl. I put together an extensive pitch to persuade Alex to stay in the teepee, mostly built around the thesis that we could bring a whole case of beer and drink beer under the stars in our hammock.

Alex listened to the whole pitch, and I could see the longing for a big fluffy bed and air conditioning in his eyes, and he said: "Sure, let's do it." Boyfriend of the year, ladies and gentlemen.

Teepee, Lac d'Annecy, France

 We cracked our beers (and popped the bubbly) and threw the sausages and veggies on the grill.




I settled in to take care of some urgent business.




After dinner, we refilled our drinks and talked for hours, at the table, and then snuggled up in the hammock, watching the stars. When Alex started explaining something super scientific, I fell dead asleep. When he woke me up to go inside to bed, he protested that I fell asleep as he was explaining something super cool and fascinating, and started telling me again. Which was great, because then I fell right asleep inside. So I'll never know what the hell he was talking about.

We woke up in the morning to brilliance all around us.

Teepee, Lac d'Annecy, France

And I immediately crawled back into bed.

"Do I HAVE to get out of the hammock, Alex?" "For the eighth time YES MICHELLE, YES."

We hit the road and drove back up the lake towards Annecy, looking for a good spot to take a morning dip.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Found it.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

These little pontoons line the lake; a lot are marked private, but others are public, and make excellent home bases for a swim. In the evening, they are crowded with people drinking wine and dipping their feet in the water.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

The water was perfect.

Talloires, Lac d'Annecy, France

All refreshed from our morning 'showers', we headed into the old town of Annecy, to see one of France's most iconic and photographed sights:

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

The building on the left is the Palais d'Ile, a 12th-century prison. Lock me up, amirite? 

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France


Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

Vieille Ville, Annecy, France

The outdoor market was our last straw. We were hungry.

La Porte Sainte Claire, Annecy, France
 LA PORTE SAINTE CLAIRE - 1 Fbg Sainte-Claire

It's a little empty looking only because I snapped this when they'd closed after lunch -- as usual, Alex and I were the last ones to leave, closing the place down, so lost in staring lovingly in each others' eyes that we don't notice the waiters are glaring at us.

La Porte Sainte Claire, Annecy, France

Grilled prawns for him, and a big steaming pot of moules (mussels) in white wine for her. And rosé for the whole table.

La Porte Sainte Claire, Annecy, France

La Porte Sainte Claire, Annecy, France

Gelato for dessert. But as we were eating our cones, walking back to our car, we passed another ice cream joint that was selling ice cream sandwiches that looked incredible. We kept walking until we finished our cones, and then immediately went back and nabbed a sandwich to share.


Oh come on, you couldn't have resisted that either. I know, I know. Gluttonous fatties. (Have I told you about the time we went to brunch in New York and ordered three entrees to share?)

Worth it.

Bellies entirely too full, we waddled back to the car and nestled in for the 3.5 hour drive home. And, it being Switzerland, it was a drive with a view, of course.


Au revoir, France! À bientôt!

No comments:

Post a Comment