On voyage pour changer, non de lieu mais d’idees – Hippolyte Taine
(We travel to change, not to change a place but to change ideas – Hippolyte Taine)
Annecy is charming. It is dainty. It is enchanting as well. Today, on the last day of our camping at Annecy, we will visit the places that I am sure will compel you to call it ‘Fascinating’. Let’s begin…
Atop a hill at an altitude of 470m on the south side of Annecy, resides a little aloof and reserved “Chateau d’Annecy” (Chateau or Palace of Annecy) that is built gradually from the 12th century! A bit of steep walk from the Vieille Ville up the hill to reach the Chateau is worth undertaking on foot as it allows you to steal glimpses of the city from the vantage positions.
Between the 12th and 14th centuries, it served as the residence of the Counts of Geneve and Dukes of Genevois Nemours. Those were the golden years marked with prosperity for it. However, its glory was gutted in fire consecutively leading to its abandonment in the 17th century. It was finally bought by the municipality of Annecy only in 1953.
Castle has many towers and loggias. Tour de Reine (Queen’s Tower) is the oldest among them which was built in the 12th century. With its 13 feet thick walls, it has survived well through the passage of centuries. Along with Logis Perrier, it now houses the Regional Observatory of Alpine Lakes. The Chateau also houses an interesting museum and hosts temporary exhibitions in Logis Vieux and Logis Nemour.
The main attraction however is the panoramic view of the city of Annecy and Lac Annecy from the terrace of the Chateau. The curious crowding of the red-brown sloping rooftops, some with dormer windows, of the tall and short apartments-houses-buildings, a backdrop of the dark mountains with snow caps, clear blue sky with some wandering–drifting white clouds is a breathtaking sight.
The azure blue water of the Lac Annecy nestled in the green surroundings, on the other hand, vies for undivided attention adding to the fascination quotient of the city.
Gorges du Fier
About 10kms from the city of Annecy is a natural wonder sculpted by a river over centuries and made accessible about 150 years ago for nature enthusiasts by humans. Welcome Gorges du Fier.
‘Le Fier’ (the Fier river) is an important river in the Haute- Savoie region. It is about 72km long. Originating from Mont Charvin (Mont- Mountain) it is one of the main tributaries of the river Rhone. The word ‘Fier’ means ‘proud’. The brutal force with which it flows justifies its name.
The powerful torrents of the Fier have resulted in the erosion of the mighty mountain over the centuries carving a spectacular narrow canyon that is 45m deep. About 150 years ago, in 1869, a suspended footbridge was built, 25m above the river, along the rocky face of the canyon.
This walk of 1.5kms offers stunning views of the gorges as the sunshine seeping through the narrow wedge of the juxtaposed rockfaces of the canyon creates a spectacle for the onlooker.
A scale placed halfway through the walkway indicates the levels of the floodwater in various previous years. One is bound to be gripped with terror to see some of the levels marked well above the footbridge!
At the end of the canyon where Fier becomes a little gentle, Mer des Rochers (Sea of rocks) awaits to greet the awestruck visitor. It is a labyrinth of fissured rocks. One can easily spot the niches created by the convection currents and the ‘Giant’s Kettle’.
There is a snack bar cum restaurant and a souvenir shop at the entrance to complete the experience!
Being surrounded by mountains, Annecy also has several walking, hiking and biking trails, each offering a different level of ease/difficulty. Each one promises distinctive views that are sure to keep the seeker spellbound. To know more about them, visit Tourism Office which is next to Hotel the Ville (Town Hall).
Do you now agree that Annecy is ‘Fantastic’?
Click here for a short video of a live panoramic view of Annecy and a walk on the footbridge of Gorges du Fier.
And yes, it’s a goodbye to Annecy! Let’s meet tomorrow to visit a historic city to know that nothing is permanent…
(See you soon!)
Click here for posts so far in the “Exploring l’Hexagone” series