Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Annecy and the Gorges du Fier

The first stop on our northern Italy road trip? Annecy, France! We were looking to break up the first leg of the trip into a more manageable driving chunk, but Annecy turned out to be worth the stop! Only three and a half hours from Clermont-Ferrand with scenic viewpoints the whole way: sunflower fields mixed with mountains, forests and little towns. The Alps were visible in the distance almost from Lyon, and when we turned north into the valley that led to Lake Annecy we were in the mountains.

My first impression of Annecy wasn't the most positive, as we drove through an industrial area to get to the city centre (my impression was later completely reversed). After checking into the hotel we immediately set out again, hoping to make it to nearby Gorges du Fier before it closed. A gorge caused by water eroding deep into a sandstone bed, we made it to the ticket booth minutes before last entry. With Lauris in the baby backpack we set out over a bridge before turning into a narrow walkway that led into the gorge.  The catwalk hugged the cliff wall, and Roberts had to be vigilant that he didn't bump Lauris's head on all the rocks jutting out from the cliff face. The gorge was impressive, worth the hurry to get in on time and the entry fee with its steep twists and turns, colorful walls and swiftly flowing water 25m below. I only wish there had been a good vantage point of the river entering the gorge, that would have been icing on the cake.

It was soon after our return to Annecy and downtown that my impressions were reversed. We walked a few short blocks into the old town and were in a different world than the one we drove into. Known as the "Venice of France" due to its many canals and access to buildings from the water, the pedestrian alleys are narrow with flowers cascading from balconies and ice cream vendors and cafes doors open for business. We ate outside, tourists watching tourists stroll by, then headed deeper into the city.

The main old town district is situated on a peninsula jutting out into the lake with the European Gardens on the tip. From the park there were wonderful views of the mountains and across the lake, as well as plenty of space for Lauris to run around after a long day in carseats, strollers and the backpack.

Our wanderings through the city the next day took us past Palais de l'Isle, a castle on an island in the middle of a canal, and near Cathedrale St. Pierre of the early 16th century. We did not climb up the hill to Château d'Annecy, but did admire the views from the bottom while eating ice cream cones. Our check-out time came, as usual, too quickly, but we packed up the car and headed for Italy, ready for pasta, gelato and una bella vacanza.


  1. Lauris' passport already has more stamps in his one and one-quarter years than I have in my whole long life!

  2. Tas nekas, gan jau vins kadu dienu sudzesies "maaaaammmmm, kapec mes nekad nekur neejam?" :)

  3. hi, found your blog by chance, im italian, expat in france (not far away from annecy) and probably next will be us..but not chicago, which i think is the most beautiful big city in the world after rome and paris :-)
    i hope to read about ur family time in italy and that you also stop on your way to Turin, which is the city i've grown up in and for foreigners is much less famous than Siena and Florence but is equally beautiful
    read you soon

  4. Yes, we did stop in Torino! Hope you read about it in my newest post!


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