HomeArrivalSetting UpLoireParisChartres



Annecy is a quaint town in the French Alps that was recommended to us by Bob Wolf. We decided that it would make a nice excursion with Pete and Betty, as it was about a 5-hour drive from Strasbourg. The road passes through the Alsatian wine country, and during the summer there is a wine festival somewhere along the road virtually every day. On the 15th of August, the town of choice was Dambach-la-Ville, a small town boasting more than 50 wineries!

It turns out that August 15th is a holiday in France, la fête de l'assomption when Mary ascended into heaven. We were therefore aced out at the local bakery and were hoping to score a little bread or pastery in a bakery in the town. Sure enough, we found one that was open and got some baguettes, to put something in our stomachs before sampling some of the local wine.

As we came upon the square, the band was getting ready to start the festivities, so we found a table in the warm sunshine and Pete and I went off in search of some of the local produce. He tried a Riesling and I tried a Gewurtztraminer, which cost a bit more but seemed smoother and more interesting. I left my glass half full and went back to direct Linda and Betty to the booth where we were sampling. When they were done it was time to look for some more eats and drinks for the kids. The band played on, and some brightly costumed men and women danced some of the local tunes.

Linda and I ducked into a shop to look for wedding gifts for Suz and found a nice set of Alsatian table linens that will hopefully fit her table, so we are ready for the wedding. After lunch was done—and while the band played on—we decided that with a long drive ahead of us, it was time to get going.

The drive down to Annecy through Switzerland was largely uneventful, although after we had shelled out our 40 Swiss francs for the privilege of driving on the Swiss highways, we entered a tunnel and soon came to a complete stop. Folks in front of us were turning around and driving back out of the tunnel, and eventually we followed suit. This meant we had to navigate the surface streets of Basel, remembering to head south as we looked for signs to Bern. Eventually we made it and were back on highway, but the same thing happened to us in Bern. The Swiss highways did not remind us of Swiss watches. In any case, after passing through Basel, Bern, Lausanne, and Geneva, we arrived in Annecy and found the Holiday Inn.


Annecy is a cute town on an alpine lake not very high up in the French alps. It has a somewhat drab section of town, where the Holiday Inn is located, and a quaint and charming section where we ended up spending all our time. After a brief rest and wash, we headed out for dinner to one of the places recommended by the hotel receptionist and were not disappointed by the advice. We saw some interesting-looking cafés that promised to keep us plenty busy the following day.

The next morning the boys had swimming and paddle-boating on their minds. After breakfast we headed out to the lake and the paddle boats. It was a nice sunny day and the boys had us talked into a paddle boat ride; my condition was that they were to be the engine. I was going to “bronze” and read whilst they paraded us around the lake. This plan worked pretty well until Linda challenged the boys to go in for a swim. They were being chicken, so I decided to show them how. They thought I was kidding, but I was pleased to find that the lake was actually quite delightful and warm. After some modest rearrangements of their garments, the boys dived in, too and we had a lovely swim in a lake that once had the reputation of being the dirtiest lake in (Western?) Europe. Happily, it has been cleaned up a lot since the chemical companies polluted it and is now considered one of the very cleanest lakes in Europe.

In the afternoon as we walked back from the hotel into the fun part of town, we passed a pair of people pretending to be statues. This seems to be all the rage in France. We had seen somebody pretending to be Tutankhamun's gold-plated coffin standing just across the street from the Palace at Versailles. She would bend slowly and gracefully at the waist on hearing the plink of coins in her can. We watched for a couple of minutes, and then went on to better things. These folks here seemed to have it tougher, since their eyes were necessarily closed to complete the illusion of being stone statues. Once again we watched for a moment or two, and some of us contemplated the problems associated with not being able to see whether people are putting in or taking out. Don't even get me started about the rain!

I suppose there is something to this kind of performance art, but I'm not sure quite what it might be.

We took a hike up the hill to the castle, but decided that we weren't going to shell out to go in—we'd done enough of that earlier in the summer. We strolled around, « licking the windows » a bit (that's the French way to say “window shopping”) and biding our time until it was tea time and we could have a beer without guilt. To be honest, I'm not sure that I've been having much guilt in that respect, with the consequence that I'll probably have to shed a few pounds before long.

We tried another place for dinner, one of the few that seemed to have something good for the kids and also interesting things for the grown-ups. The staff were sitting enjoying their dinner outside in the half-hour leading up to opening at 7:00, and seemed slightly put out by our inquiries about seating ourselves at some unoccupied tables—no matter how close to starving to death the children may have reported themselves. Luckily, nobody actually died and we were able to claim our tables promptly at 7:00 and to enjoy a nice meal.

The next day I made the tactical error of trying to come back via a different route, ostensibly to see more of Switzerland. Well, we saw a lot more of some very slow roads, which turned the 5-hour trip into more like 8 hours. We were very, very happy to get back on the roads of France and then back into our comfy apartment. I must say that we quite enjoyed our red Peugeot 806, which was very comfortable for the 7 of us and had a cool stick-style shifter on the dash.

cross pictureBack to Strasbourg to get ready for the school year

This page was last modified on Sun, Sep 9, 2001.