Sunday, March 20, 2011

March 20, 2011: Annecy - Train trip, Crepes, Venetian Festival, Animal Parade

Today's blog entry has a new location - because we took our first day trip! We took the train to Annecy, which is about two thirds of the way from Grenoble to Geneva, but still on the French side of the border. The train ride took just under two hours, with stops in several towns along the way.

When we got to Annecy we found the pedestrian-only heart of the old city quite easily. The Sunday morning market was on, so the streets were packed with stalls selling many delicious foods. Also for sale: a baby pig and two fluffy kittens. And in other animals sightings: a girl with a rabbit in her jacket, its little head poking out.

The market was crowded, but as we got past it we realized that the festival was making the town even more crowded. Annecy is known as the Venice of the Alps, because it it criss-crossed by several canals, and this weekend they were having a Venetian festival, with people dressed up in elaborate masked Venetian costumes parading about town and posing to having their pictures taken. Everywhere a masked figure went crowds of people swarmed. It was like a sighting of a rare animal, or a high-end fashion shoot - the atmosphere really was crazed. I saw some of the biggest telephoto lenses ever, and I'm sure that the goal of some of these people was to capture an image of every different costume at the festival. It was both fun and bizarre - where else would you brazenly stalk total strangers for their photos?

We had lunch at a Bretagne crepe place; the main course was a heavier type of crepe called a galette. I had the tartiflette (a traditional Savoie dish of Reblochon cheese, potatoes and ham) with a side salad (a simple dressing on some of the nicest, freshest lettuce I've ever had in a restaurant). For desert I had the caramel beurre salé crep. Both were delicious.

We came home an hour earlier than planned, since we were a bit tired of the crowds and a bit cold from the weather (although it was wonderfully sunny in Annecy, the air was a bit chill and damp). Happily our train tickets are good for a month at a time - we just had to validate them before boarding to get on a different train than the one I originally bought them for. I will definitely enjoy planning more train day-trips for us in other parts of France.

Walking through the old city

Two young boys in matching outfits pose with the "Venetians"

A mother and her son escape the crowds for some peace on a dock

The view down one of the canals

Probably the most famous view in Annecy - the Palais de l'Ile

Look - my own boat!

Mark and I wave to the water

Reflection in a very smooth water feature

I'm thinking hammerhead shark...

Photographers madly shooting a posing pair

A Venetian looks over the shoulders at the cameras of those who were taking her picture only moments earlier

Lake Annecy - one of the cleanest lakes in the Alps

The bridges became impassable as the festival went on

Mark and I find a hidden walkway down the hill from the Chateau, which reminds us of our urban hike with David in the hills of the San Francisco area

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