Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A little more from Annecy

The basilica in the hills above Annecy

The ancient former prison

We’ve done an incredible amount of walking in Annecy. Our days (and evenings) have mostly been spent wandering into and around the center of town, drinking wine and eating, as well as searching out favorite places to buy food and wine. The number of bakeries, pastry shops, cheese shops, and butchers is pretty amazing, as is the number of restaurants. It’s often said that Portland (Maine) boasts more restaurants per capita than any other city in America, with the possible exception of San Francisco, but I can’t imagine it holds a candle to Annecy in that regard. Annecy has around 50,000 people in the city proper, and about 150,000 in the agglomeration of Annecy, as it’s called, but the number of restaurants in the center of the city alone is astonishing. And we’ve taken walks into the center late at night and seen scores of people dining, indoors as well as at the ubiquitous outdoor restaurant patios, as late as 10:00 or 10:30 p.m.

Another type of food establishment that Annecy has in abundance is ice cream shops and stands scattered all over the city; in the old center, the newer commercial center, and at carts in the park along the lake. Our evening routine has included after-dinner late night walks along the lake into the center of town, where we first stop at one particular little shop selling all kinds of flavors of ice cream, including raspberry and cassis sorbet, and hazelnut, pistachio, and caramel ice cream.

So far we’ve held off taking a boat tour around the lake because of the haze in the distance. It’s been sunny and mild almost all the time here, but apparently because of the temperature variation between Annecy and the surrounding snow-covered mountains, the distant lake area and mountains are frequently covered in haze. So we’re hoping for a clear bright day to take a boat tour. It did clear late yesterday afternoon, and the surrounding area was beautiful, but the boat tours had already ended for the day.

And while it may seem that all we’ve done is walk, eat, and drink, we have seen some of the sights, such as the chateau that towers over the town, the ancient former prison along the canal, and part of the west side of the lake, having walked several miles along the lake to the town of Veyrier du Lac. I had vaguely heard of Michelin-starred chef Marc Veyrat, and we stumbled upon his 3-star Michelin restaurant in Veyrier du Lac. It was closed for vacation, but with a price tag of 375 Euros (around $500) per person (plus wine) for a meal, I don’t think we would have gone there anyway!

One of the local Savoie wines

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