France - Doussard, Albertville, Annecy
From Lyon we went by car in the direction of the Alps. To see a bit more of the country and to safe the toll of the highway, we decided to take the national route in the direction of Aix-les-Bains. That was a stupid idea for the first part of the trip. On a friday evening, traffic was intense. Everyone was out to reach their week-end destination.But the closer we came to the mountains, the nicer was the route. Through beautiful landscapes with flowerfields we reached Tunnel du Chat. Once coming out of this tunnel we had an amazing view over the Lac du Bourget and Aix-les-Bains in the distance.
We have to admit that this part of France or the landscapes and smaller towns and villages are much more appealing to us than the big cities. By passing by the lake we made some quick stops to take in the beautiful scenery and continues to Lac d'Annecy. Traffic chaos continued but it did not bother us. We had stocked up food in a supermarket, we had beautiful views and nice music and made some stops here and there. It was a pretty relaxing drive till we finally reached the city of Annecy. We continued along the west shore of the lake further south. Through beautiful areas with flower gardens and huge villas we reached
Doussard, our final destination. We checked in our prebooked Hotel Arcalod. We had found a supercheap deal for a room and expected to get the smalles and ugliest one. Well, our faces told a different story when we stepped inside our superior double room with sofa and balcony. What a luxury for so little money. We did not move far for the rest of the day and after a little stroll through the very small but beautiful village of Doussard at the source of Lac d'Annecy, we enjoyed the balcony with views over the surrounding mountains. And we could peacefully enjoy our dinner which we bought earlier in the supermarket. Again in Doussard, it was impossible to find vegan or at least vegetarian dishes.
Next morning we woke up to pure sunshine. After a quick fruit breakfast in the room, we drove into the next village Faverge for the best baguette we have ever had in our life (and we have had many so far!) and a nice café au lait. Was nice to just watch the villages life going by and doing nothing. We had been so busy the last weeks in our company, this peace was nearly a shock for our system ;-). We continued our drive deeper into the mountain and went up to Sethenex to visit a waterfall and a cave: Grotte et Cascade de Sethenex. It is privately onwed and so lovely. In late spring, the vegetation was dense and green. It nearly looked like in a rainforest. There were only a few visitors. We took our time to visit the 40m waterfall and got completely soaked (with the hot weather, this was no problem and we dried quickly). Then we visited the cave. It is a young cave that is a result of an earthquake. The waterfall earlier was inside the mountain but with an earthquake, rocks fell apart, the waterfall was outside and the cave formed itself new. There are underground lake still inside and in some parts in the cave one can hear the falling water. It is a strange feeling being 150m deep inside a mountain and hearing these things. We loved it - not a must see, but a wonderful and natural experience.
We decided to continue our drive spontanously up the mountain to the Plan de Tamié and passed a beautiful and remote monastry there. What a natural beauty up there. From the plains we had wonderful views down into the valley where Albertville is situated, the city where the winter olympics took place in 1992. Funny enough, both of us cannot remember these olympic games, although we normally are quite interested what is going on in the olympics. But having been to Sidney, Barcelona, London, Cortina d'Ampezzo, Berlin, Turin, Vancouver and Garmisch Partenkirchen (did we forget a city?...) we felt like Albertville is somehow missing in our collection. We looked for a free parking space and went to discover the city. Unfortunately, the city looked quite deserted and there is not much left of the olmpics - the main stadium of course (but the road was closed and it was a long way to walk there so we skipped it). In town itself, only the tourist information center reminds visitors about the past. The former center point, Place d'Europe now is an old looking square. We quickly left and went to the nearby medevial village of Conflans. It is a small, picturesque village which offers nice views over the valley. When we reached the central square, a cultural festival with music was going on and dark clouds were approaching. So we quickly found to chairs in a café, enjoyed some nice hot and cheap coffees and watched a huge thunderstorm pouring down. It was a joyful atmosphere with all people getting wet, running over the square. So much more social life and joy in living than we have in Switzerland where everyone is mostly stressed and serious. We enjoyed i so much. Anyway, we were getting hungry slowly. But no chance that we got something vegan to eat here. So when the rain stopped we left the village and drove further on to Ugine in the direction back to Lac'Annecy in search of a supermarket. We were lucky and got all we needed. After a filling meal on the roadside drove along the east shore of Lac d'Annecy which is equally beautiful as the west shore. I am sure we will come back here one day with our tent for a couple of days. There are amazing campgrounds right on the shore where you can pitch your tent with great views over the lake.
Finally we reached the town of Annecy. It was saturday early evening and the old village was packed with tourists, mainly swiss ones. Annecy is only a 40 minute drive away from Geneva, so many swiss come here to spent a day or a weekend to enjoy the really cute old town with its waterways and old buildings. It is so beautiful for the eyes, but after our peaceful day in nature the hordes of people and the noise was unbearable. So many people being slightly drunk, stuffing in tons of meat in front our eyes and all the smells of this was too much for us. Do not get it wrong, we are vegans but tolerant for all those who are not. It is everybodies business what they put inside their bodies. Normally, we can sit next to someone who is eating meat in a restaurant. But here, all the alleys were literally smelling of burned meat. But for us the smells are really hard to bear. Wrong timing from our side as it was dinner time. So we tried to avoid the main streets and finally found a little shop with excellent sorbet icecream. So we sat down and enjoyed our goodies as well. Annecy is beautiful and we will surely come back just at a different time of day and maybe not on a weekend.
We had a wonderful short time in France. Hopefully, we come back soon to discover more of this country as we just got a glimpse of it. But what we know now: we need appartments or a tent to stay in to be able to cook our own food..... By the way, our french got a little bit better each single day.....