A change of scene from the French waterways: the French mountains - and lakes. This is Lac d'Annecy.
October 2012 - Page 2
Road Trip to the French Alps
With the Amarok safely out of the water for the
winter (and much less hospitable as a living space), we
decided to take a little road trip to some places not
reachable by boat. In our 2013 Citroen DS4 (6-spd
diesel) rental car, we headed east - through Dole and
into the Jura Mountains to the beautiful city of Annecy.
If we'd had a bit more time, we would have visited
Dole by boat. But by car, it turned out to be a
mere 20 minute drive from St-Jean-de-Losne -
and well worth a visit. We stopped here for lunch.
The town of Annecy has been described as a cross between Luzern and Venice.
Its location on this mountain lake is exquisite.
A view of Lac d'Annecy from the park which borders the lake in Annecy.
These classic boats are available for a tour of beautiful Lake Annecy. At 15 km long, it's the 2nd largest lake in France.
Driving around the lake, we came across beautiful this spot. The hotel in the background is the
Palace de Menthon in the village of Menton St-Bernard.
The view from the Palace de Menthon. We went in for a cup of
coffee. Even in the rain, the view was pretty spectacular!
From Annecy, and Menthon St-Bernard, we headed
over the mountains to Chamonix.
Our GPS shows our (tortuous) route through the
mountain passes between Annecy and Chamonix.
View of the valley as we desended from a pass heading for Chamonix.
The spectacular morning view from our balcony room in Chamonix.
That white mountain in the distance is Mont Blanc.
In Chamonix, we found a small ski
lodge on the edge of town (the Hotel
Excelsior). It was cloudy in the
evening, but the next morning when
we opened the curtains on our
balcony doors, we were greeted by
an amazing alpine view - see below.
We knew we weren't on the canal
Once in Chamonix, we of course, had to take the
téléphérique to the top of the Aiguille du Midi. Here
it is departing from the mid-station at 7,500 ft.
The top of the Aiguille de Midi is 12,605 ft - and the view is
pretty amazing! We really lucked out with the weather.
That's Mont Blanc in the background at 15,782 ft.
The town of Chamonix lies below in the valley. Coming in
from the left are glaciers that originate near Mont Blanc.
A view from the mid-station. From here, the téléphérique runs,
unsupported, straight to the top of the Aiguille du Midi - on the right.
The upper stage of the Aiguille du Midi is the highest
cable car in Europe, and it has the longest unsupported
span (2.9 km) of any cable car in the world. Exciting!
Those liitle figures are people who have gone through a tunnel
to the obsevation deck - Mont Blanc is in the background.
People actually took the cable car one-way to the top and then hiked back
down. If you look closely, you can see people traversing the snow fields
on their way down. Seemed a bit crazy to us.
Then, there were others who came up with their parachute (in a
backpack) and proceeded to jump off the side of the mountain!
When you arrived at the top (where the
temperature was about 15°F), you had to go
outside and climb a couple sets of stairs to get
to the restaurant. That's when you noticed a
distinct lack of oxygen!
Nancy looking out from the warmth and
comfort of the mountaintop restaurant.
After the excitement of the Aiguille du Midi, we came back
down into Chamonix and had lunch at this restaurant.
Although it was sunny, the temperature here was about
55°F - we ate inside.
Chamonix was a lovely little town, reminded us a bit of
Aspen, Colorado. Definitely a winter sports place - with
lots of expensive shops for the less adventurous.
We were lucky to catch the open-air market on Saturday
morning which, despite the 38°F temp, was packed.
Driving back, we actually passed within a mile of the
Swiss border (a few miles from Geneva), but we never
crossed the border. We did make stops in Louhans and
Branges just to see what we missed when we cut short
our trip up the Seille River a couple weeks ago. Louhans
was interesting with all its arcades.
On our last day in France, we drove through Auxerre
and inquired about the possibility of over-wintering there
next year. (They'd be happy to have us.) See Page 3.