Water! There’s always something about water that lures us to its presence. Whether it is an ocean, or a lake, or a river, or a creek, or a trickling spring, we are all automatically hypnotized by and lured to it. We want to see it, touch it, smell it, and sometimes jump into it. Add some Alpen mountains to the background, and we have “a touch of heaven”.
Annecy (pronounced ahn-see), located in the Rhone Valley in eastern France along the western edge of the Alps, is a city that just happens to fit this bill. Perched on the northern tip of Lac d’ Annecy (Lake Annecy) and surrounded by often snow-capped mountains, its compact old-town city center exudes a rich medieval character complete with cobblestone streets and the bucolic tree-lined canals of the Thiou River which lazily winds its way through the old quarter along side of flower-lined pedestrian passages and bridges. While on its way to the Lake, the river splits into two canals for double the pleasure. The river finally presents itself to the lake via two long, straight, tree-lined canals in grand fashion, ending with expansive vistas over the lake waters to the nearby mountain peaks. Following the lake shore to the left or the right leads to kilometer after kilometer of beaches, golf courses, paragliding and hang-gliding, bike and hiking paths, and camping.
I was fortunate to find a comfortable and quiet apartment right on Rue Saint Claire, one of the main pedestrian-only thoroughfares in the old medieval center. As soon as I stepped out the door, I was instantly immersed into a medieval medley. On one morning, I was greeted with the local street market which stretched all throughout the old city center. I was overwhelmed with the amorous sights of multi-colored vegetables, hanging sausages, cheeses of every kind, flowers, and, the smells of garlic, roasting chicken, and sausage, all in the company of locals and visitors in search of ingredients for the evening meal or the perfect gift for the folks back home. A friendly chat about life with a local vendor as he was cooking up a sugar broth to prepare his sugar-coated peanuts added to the splendor of the day.