This last weekend we did a driving trip to Annecy, France. This is the first time that we have rented a car. Paula did all of the driving and did a very good job in dealing with the myriad signs between Vevey and Annecy. It was exhilarating to have the freedom of transportation by car and it puts more destinations in play for a weekend.
Annecy is located about 78 miles southwest of Vevey on the northern tip of Lake Annecy. It sits in a small valley surrounded by the French Alps. It took about an hour and a half to make the drive. Two of Paula’s Nestle colleagues also made the trip with us.
Once we arrived in Annecy we checked into our respective hotels and then met for a great lunch prior to touring the "old town".
Annecy, which is located about 21 miles south of Geneva, has much of its history tied to Switzerland. The town is one of the oldest inhabited sites in the Northern Alps. It was established 3,100 years before Christ.
Much later it was established as the capital of the county of Geneva. In 1444, it was set up by the Princes of Savoy as the capital of a region covering the provinces of Genevois, Faucigny and Beaufortain. With the advance of Calvinism in 1535, it became a center for the Counter-Reformation and the bishop's see of Geneva was transferred here.
After the French Revolution, it was returned to the Duchy of Savoy. When Savoy was sold to France in 1860, Annecy became the capital of the new Savoy region.
Annecy, with a population of over 138,000 inhabitants, made a bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics; however, they were awarded to Pyeongchang, South Korea. If Annecy had been selected it would have been the fourth French city to hold the Olympics. Chamonix was the site for the 1924 Olympics, Grenoble as the site for 1968 and Albertville was the site for 1992. All of these towns are within a 50-mile radius of Annecy.
Pictured from left to right is Courtney, Paula and Jodie. Our tour of the "old town" began at the Saint Jean well. This well remains as a reminder of the hospitallers of Saint John. (The legacy of its founder, Saint John of God (1495 -1550) is a mission of hospitality and compassion that has continued and grown over five centuries). The organization is better known under the name of the Knights of Malta.
The church was demolished during the French Revolution. It was rebuilt in the neoclassical style in 1850.
The high alter in the Notre-Dame church.
One of the many arch ways that leads to the old town.
This former Dominican church was built during the 15th century. In the 15th and 16th centuries, the church held a central position in local life. Craft guilds and prominent families founded chapels there. Saint Maurice is the patron saint of Annecy and Savoy.
Note - the church is currently under going an interior restoration.
Saint Francois Church.
The church sits on the site of the church of the first convent of the Order of the Visitation of Holy Mary, founded in 1610 by Francis of Sales (the bishop of Geneva in Annecy from 1601 to 1622) and Jane of Chantal (a Roman Catholic Saint).
(The special charisma of the Visitation Order combines gentleness with a valiant spirit; initiative with communal support; dedication to prayer with presence in the world; a contemplative life with an apostolic dimension).
It was rebuilt in 1644 in the architectural style of the Counter Reformation.
In 1795, following the suppression of clergy's property, the convent and church were converted into factories producing calicoes. In 1923 the church was given to the Italian community.
The high alter of the Saint Francois church. Setting up for a wedding.
Saint Pierre Cathedral.
The cathedral was built around 1535 for the Franciscans. It immediately became the provisional cathedral for the bishops of Geneva, who had taken refuge in Annecy following the Reformation in Geneva.
The interior of the cathedral. A statue of Mary and angels.
The Thiou river.
The Thiou is less than 2 miles long and is one of the shortest and cleanest rivers in France. It crosses the city forming small canals, thus the city is often called the Venice of the Alps.
During the 19th century, the Thiou played an important role in manufacturing activities and provided the necessary energy to the industries that developed in the city of Annecy.
Palais de I'lsle (Palace on the Island)
This structure sits in the middle of the Thiou river. Due to its triangular shape, it reminds visitors of the prow of a ship anchored in the river. It was built in the 12th century as the residence of the Lord of Annecy. It was later used as a courthouse and a mint. From the Middle Ages until 1865 it was used as a prison. After 1865 it was used as a government building. During the Second World War, it was used by the Nazis as a prison for resistance fighters. It is now a museum featuring exhibitions on local history and culture.
The Palais de I'Isle is the symbol of the town and is among the most photographed monuments in all of France.
Another shot of the canal with flowers lining the walls.
The mechanical gate, in the center of the photo, directed the water to the turbines of a large cotton factory established after the French Revolution.
Place Sainte-Claire. This building is a reminder of a cotton factory which took over the structure in 1804. At the foot of the arch is the Quiberet fountain build in 1635.
The Saint Claire gate.
This picturesque medieval gate is famous for its ancient clock and its bell that has been regulating the life of the area for centuries. By this gate Henri IV, king of France, made his entry into Annecy, escorted by his court on October 5, 1600. The Duke of Geneva opened the doors of the city to the invader without any resistance. Humiliated, the locals deserted the city which the king crossed to go up to the Chateau d'Annecy. In normal times, this was the place where tolls were collected, also called town dues, on the goods brought into the city. In times of plague, however, it remained closed to prevent travelers from entering the city.
Early Saturday evening, bands were setting up for a lively night of entertaining every few blocks in the old town.
We had a awesome dinner at this restaurant. Following are pictures of some of the great food that we enjoyed.
Sunday morning we stopped at a little cafe in "old town". I ordered hot chocolate and a croissant.
Another of the canals that runs through Annecy.
Sunday morning we decided to take a boat tour around Lake Annecy. Picture from left to right, Paula, Courtney and Jodie.
The majestic lake with the French Alps looming above and a lakefront of beauty and activity is a major attraction. The second largest lake in France (the largest lake is Lake Bourget, which is located just 28 miles southwest of Lake Annecy) rests at the foot of the Alps at the altitude of 1,466 feet. It was created 18,000 years ago from thawing glaciers and covers 10.5 square miles. It is a long narrow lake (max-length 9 miles, max-width 2 miles, and max-depth 212 feet). It is reported to be one of the cleanest lakes in the world.
A picture of Doussard, one of the many charming villages on the lake.
Chateau de Ruphy.
The castle was constructed in the eleventh century. Today it is privately owned.
The village of Duingt - pronounced "Doin".
A view of the convent and basilica, of The Visitation Tower, as we entered the Annecy harbor. The sisters of the Visitation of Holy Mary arrived in the convent in 1911. It was consecrated as a basilica in 1951. Inside, stain glass windows illustrate the lives of Francis of Sales and Jane of Chantal.
A view of the Château d'Annecy (Annecy Castle) from the harbor. The historical symbol of Annecy, its construction extended over four centuries (from the 12th to 16th).
In 1394 the chateau became the official residence of the Counts of Geneva and remained so until the end of the family line. Dukes of Savoy were their successors until the 18th century, when the chateau was abandoned. It was turned into barracks in 1742 and remained so until 1947. In 1953 it was converted into a museum.
On our way to pick-up the car to drive back to Vevey, we passed this Biscuitier shop. It was chock full of cookies and candies of every variety. We all thought that this shop probably gets a lot of business around the Christmas Holiday, with people shopping for scrumptious gifts for friends and family.
Paula picking out cookies that we can enjoy once we are back in Vevey.
Another picture of some of the cookies that were for sale. Unfortunately, I did not get a picture of the other half of the store that had a vast array of candies and chocolates. I was too engrossed in finding just the right piece of chocolate. I finally selected a delicious square of chocolate-caramel candy.
This was just the perfect ending to a wonderful weekend in Annecy.