The thing about Annecy, for us, is that we had been there before. About four years ago, as I was wrapping off of a long and challenging project, a colleague mentioned that his family owned a small chateau in Talloires - a town in the Alps on a lake I had never heard of - and gifted us three nights gratis on what was, at the time, a major benchmark in our relationship. We'd been dating for roughly six months and had a two-week road trip booked in France, a country where neither of us spoke the language and only one of us could drive the manual car. We'd been dating not only long-distance, but cross-country, requiring flight after flight, and putting us in a constant state of "vacation dating" rather than dealing with each others' real lives. So two weeks trapped in a car together in a foreign country was going to be a real test of our compatibility.
But it went well. We spent day after day together, and never once did we fight or seek time apart. We grew so accustomed to each other that one night, having finally acquired a room in a French hotel with an actual bath tub, I found myself alone in the tub, reading a book, and missing a person who was in the other room. I asked him to come sit in the bathroom with me but be quiet so I could keep reading - a request he inexplicably obliged - and I began to understand at that time that this was a person I could really spend a life with.
Full disclosure: the above pictured dock is a different dock! It's a lake, it has a lot of docks.
On the back end of our trip, we found ourselves standing on the dock in Talloires, joking about getting married on this spot and inviting only our siblings. This may have been the moment we decided to get married, even though we didn't become engaged until over a year later, and we didn't get married until some time after that, but the conversation started, however humorously, on those boards in the French Alps.
We did not get married this way, for a million reasons involving passports and parents, but we did schedule a visit back to Lake Annecy into our honeymoon.
Lake Annecy - if you've never heard of it - is one of the largest lakes in France on the Eastern border on the edge of the French Alps, not far from Geneva. It is heavily environmentally regulated, and thus very clean, and favored by outdoorsmen of all stripes. We visited previously in June, when the water was the most stunning turquoise color we had ever seen in our lives, and we had high hopes for the fall leaves in October, so we booked a room at the same chateau we'd visited before, and planned for a long hike.
Being fall, it was rainier and chillier than it was when we visited in the summer, but no less beautiful or romantic. We ate most of our meals either at the served breakfast at our hotel, or up the street at Cafe de la Place, a place that serves hearty Haute Savoy meals and an array of good French wines and is open when you want it to be open, making it a town favorite. We also happily discovered the opening of a new coffee bike shop called Base Camp (the same name of the cafe we often bike to in Burbank!) and stopped in more than once for a pastry and a T-shirt. Talloires is populated with a number of excellent (even Michelin-starred) restaurants but October is a bit between the summer and ski seasons and many places were either closed or only open a few days a week, requiring advanced reservations. We were fine, however, to skip the nine-course tasting menus and stick to the tartiflette, at least at this early point in our trip.
We planned to spend two nights in Talloires and then move on to Lake Como, so the bulk of our full day there was spent on a long hike we had started on our first visit, but couldn't finish due to Addie's bad knees. Being in much better hiking shape, we set out on the 3-4 mile hike eager for some autumn.
The first half of the hike is the steepest coming out of Talloires - one follows a path around the lake past some homes that can only belong to the rich and famous - and then ascends up a steep path. You are rewarded fairly quickly with a perfect lunch spot at Roc de Chére. We camped out for awhile and enjoyed some of the Jura treats we picked up the day before.
France's hiking trails are famously marked with colored paint on trees known to be much easier to follow that American trails, but this didn't stop us from getting lost and extending our 4 mile hike into a 6-7 mile hike consuming the better part of the day and backtracking around the Lake Annecy Golf Course. Neither of us minded very much as we were mostly pleased picking up the extra hours traipsing through the chestnut-filled forest.
We emerged some hours later on the other side, in a meadow full of bell-wearing sheep grazing leisurely not the least bit interested in us. It took navigating a village or two to get back to our chateau. We ate dinner that night in Annecy at L'APPART DU 17 - a dinner that included parmesan risotto Andy declared the "greatest risotto," in case you need a recommendation - and went to bed (after a quick nighttime champagne toast on our dock under the stars) both satisfied and exhausted, ready to advance into Italy the next day.