As Maxim says so well, our trip around the world has lots of ups and downs, litterally, up roads, hills and mountains, down beaches, rivers and lakes. This time, we shared our time between places right by the lake or a step climb above Annecy
We left our friends in Burgundy with a new itenary throught the mountains of the Jura, and once again, the landscape changed dramatically. That is the best part of this drive across France, how one region is so clearly different from the next, in every aspect, architecture, food, traditions. It provides us with constant new discoveries, like opening one drawer after the next to see what is inside.
We drove through the Alpine landscape of the Jura. Think winding roads, deep forests, more castles tucked away. Imagine large houses with small decorated windows and big balconies, overlooking green heavens for cows and sheeps in valleys, surrounded by mountains yearning for their coats of snow...
We slept in a discret aire de service, with campers kept as far away from the view as possible, then slipped under the 2 meters height bars for a breakfast on the serene lake of Vouglan, a nice appetizer for Annecy. We had brassed ourselves for a week of cold, but there is an indian summer happening here, with 30 degrees during the day...Our good luck with the weather is holding on nicely...Bliss...
We were nicely ahead of schedule and arrived in Droussard, near the forest of Chevaline, on the lake of Annecy in the late afternoon. There was a shady site right on the water waiting for us, along with cute families of ducks and swans, and flocks of paragliders above our heads.
We arrived on the 5th of September, at 15:50 and started to hear the fire engines, police cars and ambulances an hour later. We heard how the story unfolded bit by bit, from conversations to radio news or on the TVs playing in campervans. We learned about that british family from the camping next door to us, killed in the middle of a forest, near a village where nothing ever happens. We saw the photo of the local cyclist, shot for having seen too much on the laptop of the camera crews having coffee next to us...We heard about the little girl found alive In the car eight hours later (french burocracy gone too far) in a supermarket queue. The only people who refuse to talk about it are the locals from Chevaline, it make them cry too much that such an horror could happen so close to their door steps...
After two days by the lake, once we had filled our eyes with the incredible view, feed hundred of ducks and for Paul freestyled a few kilometers of water, we moved our van to a Municipal Camping right above town to be closer to our friends. I was expecting something basic but there is a tree house and a minigolf to keep Maxim and Callum happy, a large TV room with table and chairs for their homework and it is a 15 minutes walk to the city centre which we explored all afternoon.
Word of warning, yes, we have fallen in love with this place, and yes, we might live here for a while one day, to get to know it better. This is a place for all mood and all season. If you feel like peace and quiet, away from it all, there are kilometers of walks deep in the alps, and abandonned chalets for shelters. If you feel like a good sport session, grab your bikes, your rollerblades or anything on wheels, there are kilometres and kilometres of paths to choose from. Feeling more adventurous? Head for blue skies and glide on artificial wings, in the worth case scenario, you'll crash in the water of the cleanest lake in Europe...still hunting for more? Wait for winter and hurl yourself down on a sloap in any way you see fit....Not in sport? Annecy has offered a maze of pedestrian walkways for many centuries. Foodies? Go for the markets. Culture vultures? It is at every street corner...This place is a refined and healthy feast that leaves you sated but craving for more later.
We spent the week end with my two friends and their lovely families, and had ample time to rediscover them over leisurely picnics right by the lake or high up in the Alps. I saw André eleven years ago, and Manue seventeen years ago, but as in true friendship, it felt more like maybe one year ago, with a massive amount of catching up to do. We felt a quiet joy, finally watching all our kids playing together and forging their own links. I even got to catch up with each of my friends on their own, while Paul was looking after Maxim and Callum in our comfy camping above town.
We have a new itenary that will take us all the way to Montpellier, cutting off half of the South (too busy, too touristy, not campervan friendly) to concentrate on Provence. One very important question remains, where will we find the perfect dish of frog legs ? To be followed