La vie est un long champ a cultiver. Voyager, c’est y semer la diversite de la Terre. Voyager, c’est l’embellir des couleurs du monde – Jules Lesven
(Life is a long field to cultivate. To travel is to sow the diversity of the Earth. The travel is to beautify it with the colours of the world. – Jules Lesven)
Fairy tales are born in the fertile land of imagination which is rooted strongly in reality. Sounds like an oxymoron. But don’t you think that every idea, every imagination always had a seed in an iota of reality? The very thought of a ‘fairy tale’ was provoked in my mind while I was exploring the “Vieille Ville” (the old town) of Annecy. Join me as I take you to the real world of “fairy tale land”
If escaping the charm of the Lac Annecy is difficult, then the magical spell of the three canals of river Thiou clinging to the soul of the Vielle Ville of Annecy is impossible to resist.
Welcome to “Enchanting Annecy” which is a homogenous blend of the jets of water burbling down the three canals hurridly, innumerable footbridges adorned with potted flowering plants, historical monuments strewn here and there, pedestrian-friendly cobblestone streets, aesthetically romantic arches, busy open terraces of cafes and restaurants on the sides of the canals, the hustle and bustle of life reverberating across the pastel-shaded buildings of yesteryear, houses with flower-bedecked tall windows and delicate patios guarded by the decorative wrought iron railings. Here the sum, that is “Vieille Ville” is greater than its part!
This part of the city is best explored on foot. I am sure that by end of the walking tour, you will discover and fall in love with the long-lost art of “walking”! Start your stroll from the ‘Port de la Halle’ side of Lac Annecy. Trust the sonorous canal water to guide you for about 2 to 2.5kms. Follow the heart and let your feet loose to soak in the experience of an enchanted fairy tale.
If this is not enough to please your senses, you may find one or the other local artist playing a musical instrument at some nook or on the corner.*
If it happens to be a market day, you will witness the tempo of life getting heightened colourfully! Sunday Market at Annecy is one of the finest markets in France.
You can shop on Rue de Carnot, and dine at Rue Saint Claire to complete the touristic experience.* Stopping to seep in the joy of life, now and then, ignoring the ticking of the clock is not a guilty indulgence here but a basic need in “Maslow’s Hierarchy”.
Palais de l’Ile
Palais de l’Ile means the “palace of the island”. Except for the island, don’t get misled by the “palace” part of it. Though built as the castle and place of residence, it had been many other things!
Let’s stand at the centre of the Pont Perriere (Perriere Bridge) to admire this historical monument to understand why Annecy is called “Venice of the Alps”. It’s the most photographed tourist attraction!
Palais de l’Ile is a boat-shaped, fortified, quadrangular palace. It was built on the firm base of a stone island in river Thiou in the 12th century and served for generations as the place of residence for the nobilities of the county of Geneva till the 14th century. From then on it changed many hands to acquire a new identity each time which includes a (coin) minting factory, a prison, a land registry office, a toll booth, a law court, a home for veterans, a war house, and a barrack. I bet there’s hardly any other building in history that would equal this record! Today it houses a museum, the Center for the Interpretation of Architecture and Heritage (CIAP)
L’Elglise Notre Dame de Lisse
Built in 1398 by the Counts of Geneva, L’Eglise Notre Dame de Lisse is a church that sits quiet and pretty among the daily grind that unfolds at Place Notre Dame*. However, it has prevailed under the iron hand of destiny during French Revolution when it was destroyed to a great extent. The year 1851 saw it getting resurrected. It is re-built in the shape of a Latin cross. The old square bell tower and some Gothic windows are the remnants of its distant past. Today its Neoclassical interiors still hold the High Altar dating back to 1854. The light seeping through the rose and glass painted windows dapple its walls catching the attention of the visitor. Its next-door neighbour, Ancien Hotel de Ville (Old Town Hall) had been its long-standing companion among other old buildings in the area that now hose busy cafes and restaurants.
Let’s hit the pause button until tomorrow when we embark on the last league of discovering the “Enchanting Annecy”
*PS: Click here for the video of a melange of experiences with the canal at its best, street musicians, a fun concept car, and the humdrum of Place Notre Dame
Click here for posts so far in the “Exploring l’Hexagone” series