Upon his visit to a town in France, Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote, “Now I have been happy, now I have lived.” No, he was not writing of Paris, but praising the beauty of Annecy.
We decided to take our car for a scenic drive to Annecy, in the east of France near the Swiss border, because Geneva, Switzerland, was only an hour away. Arriving in the Alpine town, we headed straight to the lake for summer sun enjoyment. Known as “Europe’s cleanest lake,” Lake Annecy was formed more than 10,000 years ago when glaciers in the Alps melted.
Walking along the lake, I noted the many joggers, bicyclists, sunbathers, duck-feeders and picnic-goers. There were many people sailing, but the lake is so expansive that there's plenty of room for everyone. I found it especially nice that boat rental companies did not require a license.
For those who aren't keen on piloting a sailboat, a ferry is available to shuttle tourists around the lake. On the boat, I could have spent the whole day gazing out at the shiny waters – if it hadn't been for the hang gliders floating between the lush mountains and picturesque castles that distracted me.
When sailing gets you hungry, there are numerous gelato stands, restaurants and, of course, heavenly French bakeries to satisfy. Dividing the town's streets are a river and canals flowing with turquoise waters. If you stray from the river, there is solace from the tourists, and you will find yourself gawking at the simple beauty of French homes and churches.
As you explore Annecy's medieval streets, there are flowers everywhere and romantic spots such as Pont des Amours ("Bridge of Love"). Climb up the hill towards Chateau d’Annecy for panoramic views of the town and Lake Annecy shining at a distance.
Many say Paris is romantic. But you can fall in love with (or in) Annecy.