Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Fancy in Annecy... Olympic towns! part six

On Saturday morning, we woke up to painfully gorgeous weather...  I say "painfully" because when the sun chases away the clouds in Talloires, the area is practically dazzling with beauty.  Everywhere you look, you see people enjoying the gorgeous landscape, from sailing on the pristine lake to sailing through the skies parasailing.  Incidentally, if you like to parasail, Annecy is the place to be.  We saw so many people in the sky at at least two centers.  We also saw at least a couple of hang gliders.

Annecy is also very popular with bikers.  We saw many of them on the two lane road that ran past the hotel.  In fact, on at least one occasion, Bill almost ran over a biker.  The guy somehow decided it was a good idea for him to try to pass a car on the left.  He almost hit us head on.  Bill said he could see the guy realized his mistake; it was written all over his face.  Thankfully, it wasn't also written on the hood of my car.  Hiking is also popular in the Annecy area, although I saw a lot more people enjoying the outdoors in boats, on bikes, or with parachutes than anything else.



We began our trip to Chamonix on this road, which offered absolutely stunning views of people parasailing and swans gliding on the peaceful lake.

When I was researching Annecy, I learned that it's very close to two cities that hosted the Winter Olympics.  Chamonix Mont Blanc is the site of the very first Winter Olympics in 1924 and is now a very popular ski town near Switzerland and Italy.  Albertville is the site of the 1992 Winter Olympics.  We visited both places on Saturday, and I must say, I'm glad we had the convertible.  The drive to Chamonix from Talloires is absolutely stunning.  It takes you through a rugged mountain pass, bisected by a rushing river and waterfalls.  I managed to take a few photos as we passed through.  It was a little stressful driving through there because of all the bikers.  Some were on motorcycles and some, who must have incredibly strong hearts and muscles, were on bicycles.


Pretty meadows, often with grazing cows...


And huge snow capped mountains...



How to pronounce Chamonix.


This was where we made the turn to Chamonix.  I noticed the beautiful mountain road on our way through, but took pictures on the way back.  Most of the best shots were on the other side of the car.

Chamonix was very tourist friendly, with plenty of restaurants advertising menus in several languages.  I noticed there was some decent shopping there, and during the winter, I'm sure the place comes alive with skiers.  On Saturday, people were mostly just enjoying the sun and the large market going on.  Once again, we spotted Jehovah's Witnesses set up in a choke point going into the town.  They left us alone.


Downtown Chamonix.


This church was so beautiful.




A couple of interior shots... I think this might have been my favorite of the church stops we made.


A view from the church steps.  A wedding party is in the distance.



The celebration continues.



This rushing river made a good reference point for finding our way around town, not that Chamonix is the type of place where it's necessarily easy to get lost.

We walked through a church, and later observed a newly married couple as well as a girl who appeared ready for her first communion.  Bill was asked by a co-worker to pick up some mustard, so we stopped into a gourmet market after we had lunch at a charming local eatery called Restaurant La Moraine.  I think I was drawn to it because they had a cool looking outside bar area and were playing good music.  It turned out the service was friendly and the food was good, too.


Bill really wanted a salad, but I talked him into the ribs.  I wanted to see if they were really "Texas style".

We were seated on a terrace on the other side of the restaurant, away from the bar with the cool music.  Strangely enough, the bench I sat on seemed too high for the table.  I was sitting on a cushion, but had to set it aside so I wasn't hunching over the table.  The restaurant had a very enticing menu, with a wide range of choices.  I decided on Bolognese lasagne while Bill had "Texas style" pork ribs.


They weren't really Texas style, but they were tender enough and the portion size wasn't overly huge. Bill enjoyed the ribs.  I guess we'll have to go back to Texas for actual Texas style ribs.


This lasagne was delicious!  It was perfectly cheesy, with plain meat sauce and a nice little side salad.  I was very happy with it!


For dessert, I had tangerine sorbet with orange liqueur topped with a meringue.  They also offered "colonels", which is lemon sorbet with vodka.  And, of course, they had several other very tempting desserts with no booze in them.



I would definitely go back to La Moraine if I ever find myself in Chamonix again!

After lunch, we went to the gourmet store for the mustard.  I got a kick out of the stuff being sold in this store, including Genepi beer.  I tried that beer some time ago, when we first moved back to Germany.  It's kind of an alpine specialty-- very herbal and often green.




Sausages galore!


Plenty of mustard!



Another sax player.  That guy was very good, actually.  We probably should have seen if he had any CDs for sale.



Locks of love.


We decided not to stay in Chamonix much longer beyond lunch because, to be honest, if you aren't hiking, biking, shopping, or skiing, there's not much to do there as a day visitor.  We decided to head to Albertville, simply because I was curious about what that town looked like.  But first, we had to drive back through the beautiful mountains.  Below are some shots of our trip.









I really could have stopped to take photos or dip my feet in the cool water, had there only been a convenient place to do it.  But yes, this was great convertible scenery.

We did make one stop so Bill could fix the GPS, which fell off the windshield.  It happened to be a convenient place to pull over, since there was a remarkably clean public restroom there.  However, the toilets were of the squat hole variety.  I was a little surprised to see that in France, although I have seen them in Italy more than a few times.  Anyway, I was just glad it was clean.


Our first view of Albertville, which seemed pretty "sleepy" compared to Annecy and Chamonix.



I loved this church, but we didn't venture inside because there was some sort of service going on.


We spotted an Armenian restaurant, that appeared to be closing for good.  Too bad for that.  I would have enjoyed trying it.


Albertville is kind of pretty, though sleepier than I expected.  It did appear that they were encouraging visitors, though.  There was plenty of free parking.  Bill mentioned a medieval city nearby, too, which we ran out of time to visit.  


City hall.

I made the unfortunate choice to wear brand new sandals on our trip.  Even though they are Danskos, which are supposed to be very comfortable, I managed to get a blister.  We decided it would be better to go back to the hotel, after first stopping at Carrefour for some provisions.


They collect corks at the store.  Too bad I left my big bag of them in Germany.



Above are pictures of the pool area at Hotel Les Grillons.  We should have taken a dip.  The pool was very inviting.  I think Bill may be traumatized, though, because many pools in France require the men to wear Speedos.  He'd rather go naked.


Look closely and you can see people parasailing.  I got more pictures on Sunday.


Cocktails before dinner.  An Americano for Bill and a Kir Royale for me.


Saturday night's dinner was pretty busy.  A large British tour group came through.


Saturday night's wine.


We had a smoked trout starter.  This was supposed to come with a crostini on top, but I think the waiter brought them out prematurely.  Bill used some of the bread at the table to enjoy this starter, which was like very high speed tuna salad, only made with trout.


The main course was exquisite and likely inspired by the large group of Brits.  It was very tender and perfectly cooked medium rare roast beef with a carrot puree, mashed potatoes, and a delightful mustard and horseradish sauce.  This was my favorite of the entrees.  It was delicious!


And dessert, a rosemary hinted tart with raspberries and starfruit.

Once again, we went to bed tired and a little sunburnt, despite the sunscreen I diligently applied early in the day.  


An evening shot of the view from our window.


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