Buongiorno, bonjour and “g’day”! (don't you like how they're all the same thing? ~ who knew Australian vernacular was so cosmopolitan???).

Also, "a good day to you, sir/maam" for our American pals, "Ni Hao" to China, and "Здравствуй" to our Russian comrades, "etcetera etcetera and so forth"... (for Yul Brynner).

It’s your old pal Kit (Christof) Fennessy here. I've been writing this blog with your help for ten years, and there's over a hundred and fifty recipes, restaurant reviews of Australia and around the world, and general gourmet articles in these pages for you to fritter away your idle hours on.

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Now, what's on the bill of fare today?

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Annecy - France

Located in South Eastern France (right near Switzerland), Annecy is a lakeside holiday town known as the “pearl of the French Alps”.  It’s located on Lake Annecy, and sits at the Northern entrance to the “lake gorge”… obviously a major strategic military location.

It’s the original home of the House of Savoy (a royal family), established at the turn of the first millennium, who were later to become Kings of Italy – as well as Emperors in Africa for about two minutes.

Click below to find out more about this idyllic holiday destination, and some foodie tips…

The royal house of the Savoys did not invent Savoy biscuits, incidentally, but did donate swans to the town of Annecy, which is attested by the fact they still have a “swan island” just offshore in the lake today.

Annecy is only about forty minutes from Geneva airport, so think France with a Swiss twist, and expect to be paying higher Swiss type prices (which are about on par with Melbourne!).

There are two rivers, with a park in between which hosts the “Pont des Amours”, or “lover’s bridge”.  I kissed my wife there, so now she can say she’s been kissed on the lover’s bridge euphemistically and literally (hem hem).

The streams that run through town are lined with restaurants, cobblestone canals through an old town which is charming and “très jolie”.  We had a way too pricey lunch at a restaurant along the river (Jane and Lucy shared a 48€ fondue; Maryanne had a 20€ half cup of steamed vegetables; I meanwhile had the fish in saffron), and it was here I discovered the relative economy of ordering the set menu as I watched the next table with envy down three courses with bottles of wine for about the same price as our one course meal with a glass of wine.

There are buckets of restaurants and tourism shops since this place must go off like the Royal Agricultural Show (with an old French town theme) in high summer.

The lake’s water is beautifully clear and blue with some minerals, they have peddle-o boats, and paddlesteamer restaurants.  There’s a main paddlesteamer that can take you out on the lake with a full degustation lunch, though none of my party were keen on going as it looked like the clientele were strictly grey powers on coach tours; i.e. the business does job lots of bookings.

Ironically – and take note on the correct useage of the word here Alanis Morisette – we finally came to a place where you could swim, and it was our first non-swimming weather.  And did it rain? Yes it did.  Our first cool days, and I was thankful of bringing my raincoat.

One morning we walked into town around ten, in the rain, and stopped at a bakery called Paul’s, where we had excellent croissants and the omnipresent George Clooney end of the world “pod” coffees that seems to be all they serve in any of the European cities we visited (still, while the coffee wasn’t a patch on home, it was only about 2€ for the set, or $3AUD for a coffee and croissant… take note shitty Australian pricing!!), then looked at a street market going on over a bridge on one of the rivers in the old town nearby.

My brief on one of the days there was to find somewhere to eat a long and good lunch, and after a three hour research, traipsing the town and reconnoitering, I settled on Sarto; a Savoy themed restaurant with red chairs, just in time before the deluge set in.  And didn’t it rain again?  It sure did.  The waiters were holding up the awnings with squeegee/brooms to stop them collapsing from water, us against the wall of the restaurant but still outdoors under the heater.

Learning from my previous mistakes, I ordered “the menu of the restaurant”, choosing from the limited options on the set menu: the snails (escargots de Bourgogne); the carpaccio… not the best I’ve had, seemingly from a round steak, but with a generous salad including snow peas and pommes frites (fries); and finished off with a crème brulee (hard, but didn’t break like glass when tapped), with coffee and a Ricard (which the waiter started pouring water in for me – tut tut tut).  Lucy and I had a very expensive (for France) bottle of Burgundy (pinot noir), while Jane and Maryanne had a half the price rosé (which was very good).

In summary/summery (guffaw)?

Well, look: we primarily visited Annecy following a viewing of le Tour de France in 2016, in which our hero Robbie McEwan (famous Australian cycling sprint champ) said: “If I didn’t already live in the best place on Earth (the Gold Coast), I’d consider living in Annecy.”

My take on it?  Certainly if you’re a cyclist, it would be spectacular riding around there, with the lake, castles to look at and plenty of hills for you to ride up and practice on.

That being said, the old town itself is pretty touristy, so if you were in love with the Gold Coast, then you probably wouldn’t mind Annecy either.

My advice is to go there when it’s hot (but not school holidays), get out on the lake in a peddle-o boat, go for a swim, and give yourself a few days so you can travel around the edge of the lake and visit some of the neighbouring towns which are picturesque and offer cheaper and less touristy dining options.

Next episode?  We visit Switzerland, and the mountain top village of Mürren, where we get to see the Eiger, Schwarz Munchen and Jungfrau, as well as hike and taste the delights of Switzerland’s great dairy products! (but neglect to go to the James Bond museum…)