The Rothschild’s developed Megève as an alternative to St. Mortiz in the 1920’s. It’s high end, filled with pretty people, money and stylish places to spend it. The center of the village is medieval, but don’t start thinking Megève is quiet, sleepy and/or antiquated. There are stylish modern boutique hotels and chalets that look like they were decorated by Axel Veervoordt. Gourmet restaurants (many rated in the Michelin Guide), chic watering holes and hip clubs abound. Non-skiers can shop ‘til they drop at upscale boutiques, visit the spa or hit the casino. If you want to take a nap then rip it up apres ski, this is a good place to do it.
A pedestrian friendly atmosphere dominates Megève and the streets practically invite you to stroll through them. You can walk from town to the lifts. Snow melt forms a small river that meanders its way through the village. In its center is the main square with its traditional church belfry.
While we didn’t see any of the famous horse-drawn sleighs, we were able to see signs of them. Ski slopes, chalets and around forty active farms surround Megève, adding both character and fresh culinary delights.
In Courmayeur, we saw Mt. Blanc from the Italian side. Our hotel near Mageve, had a beautiful view of it from the French side. We were in an area known as the “Pays du Mont Blanc”. Translated, it means the country of Mt. Blanc. It is a group of villages and resorts perched along valleys at the foot of the Domes de Miage, the Aiguille du Bionnassay and the east side of Mont Blanc. It is on the bordering Haute Savoie and the Savoie regions/departments of France. Megeve, St Gervais and Les Contamines are located in the “Pays du Mont Blanc”.
The area has wonderful views of the Mont Blanc Massif. I don’t know if I will ever get used to panaromas like this. I kept running out on the balcony to snap pictures as the light changed. Quel beaute! Quel joie!
Annecy, France is beautiful. As it is an easy day trip from Geneva (or even an easy dinner trip), we’ve taken lots of visitors there. While it is exceptionally beautiful in summer with the masses flowers planted throughout the town every year, it has gorgeous old buildings, canals and a beautiful lakeside making it picturesque all year round and never disappoints visitors.
Last weekend, Annecy had its Venetian Carnival. It is a logical place for a Venetian style carnival for several reasons:
Savoy borders Italy (as well as Switzerland). Annecy has maintained a strong relationship with Italy and hosts Italian themed cultural events, including and Italian Film Festival. It is even twinned with Vincenza in Venetia, Italy.
Like Venice, Annecy has canals running through it with ancient bridges over them. It is known as the Venice of the Alps.
Two weeks after the traditional Carnival, Annecy hosts its own Venetian Carnival. Many of the costumed participants were in Venice during its carnival. The costumes are similarly ornate, mysterious and luxurious. Its over 350 costumed participants make it as large or larger that that of Venice.
Annecy has tourism down pat. It is photogenic and people turn up in droves to capture the over 350 costumes with the town as a backdrop. Although its crowded, if you are patient, you will get a shot as the participants are gracious and are eager to pose for you.
I kept trying to get more natural pictures of them. These are the closest I got.
One of my favorite parts was seeing children so excited and dressed up in costumes. They were adorable and their enthusiasm was contagious.
There are two real reasons to go from Geneva to Annecy, France. First, the high Swiss Franc (more about that in future posts) means that shopping in France where they are on the Euro (which is low in comparison to the Swiss Franc) is very cheap.
The second is the cute old town. We went to Annecy after we first arrived to test out driving and try to begin our sightseeing adventures. We had a picnic by the river and took in the sights. After the craziness of move and the chaos of the boxes surrounding us, it was a nice repose.
I took this last picture because the sight of the plaque caught me off guard. It was on the side of a school near the beautiful lake.
For those of you who don’t read French, here is what it says: In memory of the school’s Jewish students who were stopped November 16, 1943, taken by the occupying Nazis deported and assassinated at Auschwitz [list of names and ages] April 1995 – fiftieth anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi camps. On such a beautiful day, it was quite startling to see and moving to read.