After a tough few days at work, I had yet another excursion to look forward too. Painfully early on Thursday morning (I’m talking 3.30am!) I took the first train to the airport to catch a flight to Geneva. Arriving in Geneva before 9am was a bit weird, but I took the time to wander around the city. I saw the Jet d’Eau fountain, the lake, the old town and various diplomatic buildings, but was left unimpressed by the city; it felt cold and soulless, more geared towards corporatism than charm. After an overpriced coffee, I headed to the bus station by the river and jumped on the bus to Annecy. By this time, the early morning had caught up with me and, despite being only 11.30am, I was ready for bed. On arriving in Annecy, I picked up Lucy’s key from the shop across from her apartment and let myself into her, frankly pretty untidy, apartment. After a long day already, I took a few hours to sleep, then freshened up and headed into the town centre. And what a town centre! Annecy is so beautiful, not too big, not too small, not to touristy, not too cold – it was stunning. Narrow canals lined with cute restaurants and artisan shops gave way to small squares and elegant churches. Maybe it was the intense summer heat, but it felt like heaven. I then walked towards the lake, through the Jardin Anglaise and it was there I got my first glimpse of the famous Lake Annecy. The water was so blue it didn’t look real and there were snowy peaks as far as the eye could see; I was magnetised. I walked further, to the Pont d’Amour bridge and was taking a photo for an Italian couple when I found myself being picked up and span around- Lucy had finally finished work!! With so much catching up to do, we sat in the park beside the lake for a while, chatting and eating Madeleines. Then, Lucy’s friend Felice had invited us for dinner at her apartment not far from the lake, so there we went, me using my minimal French and Lucy filling in the gaps. Then, we went to a pub where you pulled your own pint – a dangerous move if you ask me. Last week was, by chance, the International Film Festival of Animation, and it was being held right there in Annecy. As part of the festival, a giant screen had been erected by the lake, and each night, brand new animated films were being shown as the sun went down. That night, I dozed off to a French dubbed version of Kung Fu Panda 3. Weirdly, there was nowhere I’d rather have been.
The next morning, Lucy still had to work, so I was left to amuse myself for a while. First, I headed back into the old town to explore some more, finding even more beautiful lanes and a highly tempting fruit market. After an ice cream by the river, I took Lucy’s bike and cycled to Veryier du Lac, a village about 30 minutes from Annecy. After a sweaty cycle in the intense sun, I reached the beach there and spent an enjoyable day sunbathing, reading and swimming in the lake. I hate to sound like a stuck record, but it was perfect. Hot, sunny, with the mountains in the background and the impossibly blue lake at my feet, I was very much in my happy place. After a few hours, I headed back to Annecy to meet Lucy and together we went to her x ray appointment. Then, it was back to hers to make a salad and shower, before heading to the Imperial Gardens by the lake to drink and eat with her friends (more awkward Anglo-French interactions). By now, it was late, so we only had an hour in a bar before it was time to go home and pass out.
Saturday dawned slightly later than intended, as the night before hit us. Not deterred, Lucy and I had a wander round the old town, running some errands and eating ice cream. I could still not get over how beautiful the town was, it was the most perfect French paradise. Then, in the baking sun, we rented a pedalo for an hour and pedalled to the middle of the lake where we swam and sunbathed. Then, we got some supplies from the supermarket (2kg of apricots anyone?!) and walked to neighbouring Annecy Le Vieux where we got a lift with Lucy’s friend Baptiste to Veyrier. Here, we lay in the sun for a while, then rented a catamaran! Lucy’s friend Augustin had a license to sail one, so we had a whale of a time flying through the water – it was so much fun! After dragging the boat back into shore, we all jumped into the lake and splashed around in the evening sun. Then, it was a quick shower and change before going to Lucy’s friend Elizabeth’s apartment where the group were celebrating someone’s birthday. Everyone had brought wine and food, so needless to say, it was a hell of a soirée! Despite being exhausted, I someone made it to the club, and finished the night walking along the lake at sunrise, as the silhouettes of the mountains began to come into focus.
After only a few hours sleep, Lucy and I woke up worse for wear, but determined to do what I’d wanted to since that very first day- climb a mountain. Suncreamed to the nth degree, we set off up Mont Veyrier, a sweaty but rewarding ascent that took around two hours. Due to her dodgy knee (see the x ray), Lucy couldn’t make it to the summit, but I completed it without her and was rewarded with views that genuinely made me cry. Words could never suffice to explain how beautiful it was; the mountains, the lake, the small towns speckling the shore – I was in heaven. After admiring it for a while, I picked Lucy up and we headed back to Annecy, stopping for a paddle and an ice cream en route. All too soon, it was time to head back to her apartment and pack my things, ready for my 17.30 bus. After an emotional (and exhausted goodbye), I boarded the bus through the Haute Savoie region back to Geneva, where I caught a tiny 50 minute flight back to Munich. Strange to think that such a paradise is so close.