The citizens of Birmingham are always proud to say that their town has more miles of canals than Venice, and no doubt it’s true, but it wouldn’t really entice you to change your holiday destination, would it? However, if you were told that the prettiest lakeside town in the France is known at the Venice of the Alps, now that does sound more appealing. The last time I went to Venice I was wading barefoot through the none-too-fragrant floods at high tide, not having any wellies and uninclined to get my shoes wet, so it did lose some of it’s romantic charm that year.
So off to the internet to book my next holiday where my feet would be dry and I would not be assailed by fog and glue sniffers under canal bridges – such was my experience on my last holiday in the UK on the Leeds to Liverpool canal. Destination – Annecy. Why this does not feature more widely in travel information is a surprise as it is a real gem of a place and easy to get to by air (Geneva or local Annecy airport from Paris), rail directly to the town centre, or car.
Why go there? Well, there is not a lot you can’t do in or around the town and it is place to keep all the family active and entertained or, if that is your preference, totally relaxed in gorgeous surroundings.
What to do? The lake is now known as the cleanest in the world having gone through a rigorous programme of drainage, purification, and monitoring since the sixties. If water or mountain sports are your thing you are spoilt for choice – water-skiing, rowing, kayak, sailing, kite-surfing, canyoning, skiing, snowkiting, cycling, trekking, paragliding and climbing. All this in an incredibly beautiful natural setting.
In fact, it is a holiday playground for all the family; while the sporty types take on watery or mountain challenges the less adventurous can walk in the woods. If you like a bit of mental stimulation, you can take a leaf from my book – brush up your French at the local language school combined with cookery lessons. A great way to relax and learn some of the secrets of irresistible French cuisine – all the family was happy with the results!
A trip around the lake is a must and you can admire the two castles of Annecy of Menthon St Bernard which are popular local landmarks. Annecy Castle is a sturdy reminded of more turbulent times and now houses a museum. Overlooking the lake from a dramatic hilltop vantage point is the castle of Menthon St Bernard is a distinctly more romantic vision with fairytale turrets and impenetrable walls.
It was a wonderful relaxing experience and I came back thoroughly refreshed and ready for the assault on the local supermarket for some French ingredients for my next “menu du jour”!