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A moment in Annecy

When you arrive at the small train station in Annecy something in the air takes you towards the centre ville.  Maybe it’s the scent of fresh cheese, or the taste of bright fruits around the small cobblestone streets, or maybe it’s the lake.  Yes, the lake.  The lake that sits below the Alps is commonly known as the “freshest lake in Europe.” 

You exit the train and you walk through the modern, but small train station.  You walk to the city streets and you see the Alps in the distance.  The white tips hovering above the small apartment buildings in the centre of town.  No matter where you go the Alps are a constant reminder that you are somewhere unique. 

Walking towards the centre of town is like a stroll down history’s great ancient cities.  Small side streets wind and crawl around the center road called Rue Des L’Ile.  You cannot miss Rue Des L’Ile.  Even if you tried you would see the children running down the cobblestone road with ice cream cones and bottles of Evian water.  You would see the restaurants and cafés lining the road like a European dream.  Every café has a specialty espresso, every ice cream parlor has its perfect fifty flavors, and every restaurant has the best cheese and wine. 

You arrive at your hotel near the lake.  Modern yes.  Expensive no.  The hotels in Annecy are rather inexpensive when comparing a night in Paris or Rome.  Not to mention Dublin or London!  Annecy has style, a style that is different and unique from anywhere in the world.  You are in an ancient ville, and it will become apparent that you find yourself tripping on the little stones in the cobblestone streets.  But you will get used to it.  It starts to become part of the daily routine, and then suddenly the streets are as even as those freshly paved American roads.

What do you do with yourself now?  You’re here, in a town that seems so small in comparison with Paris and Nice, or even Lyon!  What is there to do while you walk the quaint little streets?  Let me begin with a little checklist.  You don’t have to follow it, or even remember it for your next France visit, but let it be a guide for your next few days. 

First you hit the lake.  How go get there?  Well its easily done.  You walk up Rue Des L’Ile and you find yourself at the major road, with the name Rue Des Marquisats.  You walk down Rue Des Marquisats and you will see the lake beside you.  Almost like a dream the Alps begin to follow you.  You begin to see the small café on the road your strolling on, and the friendly waitress waves hello as you look inside.  She will stand with her black apron on, sipping a coffee, and enjoying the afternoon glaze.  You might stop in for some fresh homemade bread and strawberry jam; you might even have some eggs and a salad.  You might have a coffee and a freshly made yogurt!  Or you might just wave hello and decide on coming back later. 

There you are.  At the entrance of the lake, or what the French call it here – the Plage Publique.  You will see some girls walking across the street wearing tiny bathing suits, or hardly anything at all.  And you might panic.  You might think this is a nudist beach!  Why on earth did they say to come here?  But you walk a little closer and you see it’s not a nudist beach at all.  No, it’s actually a beach with children and mothers and fathers.  And then you see the fresh green grass and you walk to the grass and you lay your towel down, and you feel the sun on your face.  The lake is only a few steps away and it speaks to you.  You hear it and you walk in.  The fresh water feels like a new experience, and when you enter it takes your body and refreshes it to another level.  There are no words here to describe it.  You have to just come in.

Before you know it, it’s nearly dinner.  The hour’s fly by and the sun is starting to weaken.  The families have started to go home and you find yourself wondering…what do I do next?  Well you walk back down Rue Des Marquisats and you pass that café and you might wave hello.  You get back to you’re your hotel room and shower.  Outside there are street performers on stilts, musicians playing music, artists throwing fire in the sky and catching it with their hands behind the back.  There are even restaurants with live entertainment and small pubs with your name on them.  There are restaurants serving pizza for under ten dollars.  Pizza to die for!  There are Kebab stands down Rue Des L’Ile and you might want a fresh Kebab with frites.  You might want some wine at dinner in the crepe restaurant down the block.  With literally hundreds of restaurants at your decision, you might find yourself wondering, “Why am I staying here for only a few days?”

You finish your dinner.  You had a carafe of wine and you feel alive.  The streets are a bit quieter now – the time is nearly midnight.  You find yourself walking down Rue Des L’Ile and you see the pubs named Rivers, Pub Curt, and Pub Medieval.  Inside drinks are fresh, the people are smiling, and the girls and guys ask you where you’re from and when you’re coming back.  It’s a party if you want it to be, it’s everything you want, and anything more. 

It’s nearly one a.m. and the time has flown by.  You might walk down the canals near the ancient prison that sits on an island located in the centre of town. You hear the silence of the air and the lake in the distance.  Not a person around but you, but you feel safe, alive, and ready for tomorrow…. I’ll let you take it from there.

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