Annecy In My Panntsy

Posted by Big Daddy Paul in Travel Stories

A cool feature of living in France is the ability to find interesting places far removed from normal tourist path.

OK, I just read that sentence and immediately hated everything about it. Oh, it conveys the sentiment appropriately, but does so in a way that would even put Rick Steves to sleep. I am going to try that again.

Do you like cool, old shit and melted cheese? I do, and found a boatload of it in a amazing little town that I had never heard of.

This is closer. I am tempted to leave it at that, but I really think I can do better. Nothing is coming to me right now, though, so I will go ahead and write the post. By the end, I will have a beginning so exciting that Rick Steves will bite the head off an angry chicken. Believe it.

Annecy is a town in Eastern France located at the base of the French Alps. It is directly south of Geneva if you are into maps, (and let’s face it, who’s not into maps.) It is a pretty satisfying mix of old world charm, outdoor adventure spot and place to develop a nasty toe infection. We went there for a long weekend and had an amazing family adventure.

If you like the traditional European experience of wandering around old cobblestone streets dating back to the 11th century, Annecy is a good spot to do it. (OK, I feel your pain, you have been reading this entire post without having been told how to pronounce the name of the town we went to. I will ease your discomfort: Ahnsie. Make the sound like when the doctor is looking at your sore throat, then finish with the way a petite, Mexican debutante would answer a question in the affirmative if she were guessing, {“Si?”} Got it? Make no pause from taking pronunciation advice from someone who doesn’t say the word, “Pronunciation” correctly.)

The textured streets blend quaintly into multi-colored buildings and it seems like every tiny alley you turn down in Annecy is a potential erectile event for Rick Steves. (I’m warming up!) We spent the better part of an entire day just walking, eating and looking at old shit. Losing yourself amongst the bustle in a town like this is such a cool experience that even Malcolm was appreciative.

Annecy is situated near a lake bearing its name and nestled amongst the towering, snow-capped Alps. It is like a skinnier version, less meth-y version of Lake Tahoe. We took advantage of the location by taking (an admittedly chilly) boat ride around the lake and then later heading up the mountain for some time in the snow. Malcolm and Amy were so excited by the prospect of being in sunny, powdery snow that they rented cross country skis and made a lap around the forest groomed course. They had a blast! Where was I and why didn’t I accompany them? This was what I was up to:


You were wondering when I was going to come back to that, weren’t you? So, this happened, and not only did this little piggy fail to make it to the market, it hurt like hell. It had it all: tenderness, searing pain when moved, pus. So while Amy and Malcolm were off frolicking around the forest on their skis, I sat like a pile of bear turd on a heap of snow. It was a tad embarrassing, but with a toe like this, they really didn’t want to be near me anyways.

Annecy is a tourist destination and the food was reflective of that. We were able to avoid the most overly-touristic places to enjoy Haute-Savoie cuisine as it was intended. Incidentally, Haute-Savoie translates to, “High Cabbage,” so don’t go there looking for culinary sophistication. Of course, catering to tourists means that you have to do street desserts well, and the chocolate-whipped cream laden waffle Malcolm got and took 20 minutes to finish did not disappoint. One of the specialties of the region is/was fondue, and Amy and I played the always dangerous game, “When should I stop eating this fondue so I don’t feel like crap?” The fondue we tried was composed of a few different local cheeses and wine, and the resulting hot, bubbling bowl of velvety heaven was the perfect match for the fresh bread used as the vehicle to get it in our mouths. Malcolm really doesn’t like the funkiness of French cheeses, so the game he played was, “How rare of a burger will they cook  for an eight year old boy?” He really likes his raw meat, and we spent a fun evening sharing a meal that I can totally imagine Rick Steves enjoying (with the stuffed corpse of his mother, which he keeps in his apartment and whom he NEVER gets cross with.)

Annecy has a ton of stuff going for it, and we had a remarkable time there. We will definitely go back in the summer, mostly to partake in the myriad of summer activities available: biking, hiking, boating, golfing, etc. I think there is a little part of Amy and Malcolm that want to find out if they too can develop a nasty toe infection, but they probably won’t admit it. If you find yourself in France wanting something to do besides the normal museum-laden experience, you should definitely check it out. You can even bring your taxidermied mommy!

OK. Pressure’s on for a tighter opening. I think I have it:

Have you been longing for a place infected with gooey, old world charm and outdoor adventure possibilities that even a petite, Mexican debutante would find alarming? I have the place for you.


As much as I would like to leave a picture of my toe as the sole visual evidence our weekend, I cannot. Here is the rest of our weekend in pictures:


The train ride from Paris to Annecy was around 3 hours, and provided enough time to do some sort of statistical analysis of European football players and the Paris Metro system.


The first thing you do when arriving in any European city is find the open air market. Check!




Nice to meet you!


Tttthhhhattttt bbbbbbboooatttttt wwwwwwwasss a llllllitttlllllleee chchchchchchilllllllllyy


Did I mention that Annecy has a lot of canals? It’s the best of Amsterdam and Switzerland, all rolled into something French!


Courtyards. Everywhere.


I almost got tired of taking pictures. Almost.


The red roofs of the old town, taken from a nearby chateau.


You can probably skip the chateau tour, but there were still some intriguing nuggets tucked away.


More quaint shit


Get more French than that, I dare you!


It’s a good thing everyone bought their paint at different Home Depots there.


Our view at lunchtime at an outdoor cafe.


We really hearted Annecy


If only they made ’em this big.


Little chilly, little rainy one afternoon. Hot chocolate time!


Sometimes you attack the dessert…



Sometimes it attacks you.


Of course we stopped at a place with this name for crepes and waffles.


I’m going to go with, yes!


Fresh snow and sunshine makes for good scenery.


And eating!


Luckily, the Olympics were just on, so they knew how to do it.


Immediately after this pic was taken, he fell, twisted his knee, and had to be saved by daddy. That’s what happens when you try to set the new world record.

We bought these little gems at the open air market. Kind made the whole toe thing seem like it was for the best.

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