Life and Travels in France

Getaway breaks to the French Alps town of Annecy are the stuff of dreams—majestic mountains, fresh air, flowery lanes, a crystal-blue lake, and a canal-filled medieval old town rivaling romantic Venice.

Jim and I have retired to Paris, France, so places like this are on our doorstep. Direct high-speed TGV trains from Gare de Lyon in Paris to Annecy take just under four hours, a comfortable smooth ride for a French country escape. Just a short walk from the train station, Annecy, the answer to Switzerland’s Luzern, offers Lake Annecy boating and luncheon sight-seeing tours of mountain peaks and hamlets that surround the main town.

While Annecy boasts many petite and large hotels, we prefer a country cottage hotel overlooking Lake Annecy and the mountains. La Villa du Lac in the hamlet of Veyrier-du-Lac offers comfortable rooms with private baths and balconies, and a highly-regarded restaurant that we find lives up to its reputation. Take a look at the photo above.

We make sure to check-in by lunch time and promptly reserve a table. In about 20 minutes, an inexpensive city bus from the train station, more like a spotless tour bus, takes us within 50 yards of the hotel entrance, a wide veranda that offers scenic outdoor dining.

On our last visit in September, our €26 ($34) luncheon started with a to-die-for Salad Forclaz topped with potatoes and melted Reblochon cheese. We continued with seared Sirloin steak and crispy Chicken with braised cabbage. I finished my repast with cheese while my sweet-tooth husband indulged in the house signature crème brûlée.

Thankfully, our room was on the second floor with no lift—that’s three floors and no elevator to France traveling novices. We had no complaints as after the cuisine we needed all the exercise we could get.

Hiking trails lead off from the hotel up a mountain path. La Villa du Lac is a five-minute stroll from the lakeside beach and a promenade path stretches for a long enjoyable walk.

We stayed two nights and rode the city bus toward Geneva, Switzerland, disembarking at the picturesque La Clusa ski resort. Along the way French country inns and art shops intrigued us. Next time we may rent a car for further exploration.

After a hotel French breakfast enhanced by boiled eggs and ham, we hopped the city bus for a speedy jaunt to Annecy. The old town offers some museums and chateaux but we go for the ambiance, atmosphere and relaxation. A fondue lunch can be enjoyed canal-side.

We always look for a local spot filled with French-speaking diners. We also ask shop keepers for dining recommendations. Strolling the canals provides fun, vibrant French colors and take-home souvenirs.

We can’t wait to return. We’ll be back springtime—for lights over the lake, our country cottage room, superb meals and lakeside and mountain walks.

Editor’s note: Pamela gets to see the Alps whenever she wants—because she lives in nearby Paris. But there’s a little-known way you, too, can enjoy trips like this one without the costs…by running guided tours. It’s a fool-proof, easy-to-organize way of paying for dream vacations. Here is how to get started.

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