Category Archives: Annecy, Chambéry & France

Is it 2005 again?

By   February 20, 2009

I heard some loud laughing down in the parking lot earlier tonight, but I thought it was just the noisy neighbors having a party. But because I’m so curious nosy, I decided to look outside and see what they were up to. Oops, my bad. Not a party. Just a burning car across the street. And the lady was crying, not laughing.

Luckily it was a tiny car with a small gas tank so there were no large explosions. The car parked to its right got burned pretty badly too, and a trail of gasoline underneath the other cars to the left caught fire for a few minutes. I could feel the heat from the fire standing at my window, but at least I wasn’t like the other badauds who went outside. And I couldn’t believe how many idiots decided it would still be a good idea to drive past a burning car when it could explode at any second.

I don’t think the fire was set intentionally, but you never know. I mean, there’s definitely no riots like in 2005 or voyous just being huge jerks and destroying things for the fun of it, but I hear insurance fraud is on the rise thanks to the crise… But if you’re going to torch your own car, wouldn’t you try to do it far away from other cars so there’s no other damage? Or do criminals not think that way?

Our apartment still smells a little like burned gasoline – which is oh so pleasant, btw – and Canaille has finally come out from behind the couch. The small explosions were louder than fireworks and he was crying like a huge baby (similar to the way he cries when I take him to the vet). He’s already back to sleep, and I’m off to bed soon too as I am exhausted. That was enough excitement for my Friday night!

Pont de la Caille between Annecy & Geneva

By   February 15, 2009

The Pont de la Caille (also known as Pont Charles-Albert) on the former RN 201 in Haute-Savoie is one of the oldest suspension bridges in the world. It was built in 1839 over the Usses River by the engineer Belin. However, in 1929 another bridge was built next to it for a tramway line between Annecy and Geneva, called Pont Caquot (also known as Pont Neuf). However, the tramway was obviously never actually built, and so the bridge was opened to vehicles in 1939.

Originally, the Pont de la Caille was just going to be torn down, but luckily it was turned into a pedestrian bridge. It was then declared a historical monument in 1966 and today it is open to the public for free, with a souvenir shop and snack bar nearby. It offers a great view of the Alps and the valley below, and in the summer, you can climb up inside the towers to go even higher.

Ça caille au pont de la caille ! (Get it?)

Like a little castle.

About 192 meters long.

About 150 meters down. There used to be Roman baths down there, many, many years ago.

The other boring bridge for cars. The arch is pretty impressive though at 232 meters wide.

Both bridges will be under renovation from March 2009 to August 2010. Traffic will be diverted to the new viaduct over the Usses River that was built as part of the A41 highway extension that connects Villy-le-Pelloux (just north of Annecy) to St-Julien-en-Genevois (just south of Geneva) and which was just finished in December 2008.

Previously, the most direct route from Annecy to Geneva included the old RN 201 (now called the RD 1201), or if you wanted to take the highway, you had to go east towards Bonneville before you could go north on the A40 through Annemasse. Now you can get to Geneva from Annecy in 30 minutes, though it will cost you 5,50 € in tolls! But since most people who live near Annecy and work in Geneva make 3,000 € a month, I think they can afford it. Luckily, my trip to work takes the same amount of time, but costs only 4,20 € in tolls. Yet I make about 1/3 of what those who work in Switzerland make, so it doesn’t exactly equal out…

Windstorm in the Southwest of France

By   January 24, 2009

I don’t often associate severe or extreme weather with France, because they just don’t get the same types of storms that we have in the US. And that means I feel a little safer whenever I hear thunder or see the snow start to fall. It can’t possibly be as bad as tornadoes and blizzards that we get in Michigan, I always assume… but then I remember the windstorm of 1999 that killed over 100 people in France, Switzerland, and Germany. Wind was definitely something I never worried much about.

This weekend, the southwest of France is under “vigilance rouge” due to a windstorm. More than a million homes are without electricity, a new wind speed record has been set (184 kph or 114 mph), roads are blocked, and at least one person has died so far.  The storm is supposed to continue through tomorrow as well.

I hope everybody stays safe and the wind dies down soon!

Petite Cabane à Sucre de Québec… à Annecy

By   December 21, 2008

David & I finally made it to the Marché de Noël at the Imperial Hotel in Annecy. Today was actually the very last day for it, so nothing like waiting to the last minute… I mostly just wanted to visit the Quebecois stands because I had been to the marché before and it’s usually swarmed with kids trying to talk to le Père Noël.

The Cabane à Sucre was so cute, and I wished I could stand there for hours listening to the adorable old ladies dressed in their red flannel shirts speak in their adorable Quebecois accents. We bought some maple syrup, of course, and some maple tea. The nice lady gave us some brochures for the shop in Quebec City, in case we ever wanted to visit. We mentioned that we were definitely going to Quebec in July, and that I had studied at Université Laval, and she gave us a free bag of maple syrup candy. She rocked.

Then we both bought tire d’érable on the way out. I didn’t mind that it dripped all over my hands and coat. I really needed that taste of North America, especially right now.

It snowed.

By   December 12, 2008

Wednesday morning, I saw this and was all excited:

And then I looked down:

I know it doesn’t look like much snow, but it was too much for my car. I was only able to go about two feet before it got stuck. Mine was the only car that couldn’t get out. :(

Luckily I was able to catch a train to work, though much later than I would have liked. I managed to not vomit on the train even though it made my nausea much worse. A lot of students were absent anyway so my classes were pretty calm and relaxed, which was what I needed to finish this horrible week.

I understand that Annecy does not normally receive a lot of snow anymore, but why is it that no one is responsible for clearing parking lots and sidewalks? Why isn’t our co-propriété (to whom we pay 60 € a month) in charge of snow removal like they are for garbage removal and cutting the gas? I felt so bad for the elderly who live in our building who could barely walk across the street to get to the store. Just walking from the bus stop to my building on campus was dangerous enough for me.

Noël des Alpes ● Christmas Festivities in Annecy 2008

By   November 24, 2008

We received a booklet explaining all of the Christmas festivities in Annecy and I was extremely excited to see that the Brasserie des Rennes is offering la cuisine québécoise this year! And there will be traditional Quebecois music AND a Cabane à Sucre where I will be able to eat maple toffees!!!  Here’s the official Impérial Palace website for the Quebecois goodness. Other Christmas festivities include:

Les lumières will be turned on Friday night, November 28th, at 5 pm starting at the Hôtel de Ville. Shops downtown (including Courier mall) will also remain open on two Sundays in December, the 14th and 21st.

For the second year, a free skating rink will be open directly across from the Courier mall from December 6th to January 4th, everyday from 10am-7pm. The children’s rink at Imperial Palace will also be open.

La Foire de la Saint-André will take place dans tout le centre-ville Tuesday, December 2nd, 8am-8pm.

The official Marché de Noël will be open December 5th to 31st everyday on the quai de Vicenza. Open 2-8pm on Mondays; 10:30am-8pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays; and 10:30am-9pm on Fridays and Saturdays. On Monday, December 8th, it will be open at 10:30am (apparently this is a jour férié in Italy?)

The Marché de Noël in the Impérial Palace Hotel will be open November 29th to December 21st; 2-7pm during the week and 10am-7 pm on weekends. Closed Mondays and Tuesdays. This is also where you can see Père Noël’s reindeer resting in their enclos.

Le Petit Train de Noël will run November 29th to December 31st (except December 2nd) 1:30-6:30pm. Cost is 3 € for the day. Runs from Impérial Palace through old town, downtown, Courier and back to the hotel in 45 minutes.

Le Hameau du Père Noël is actually located in Saint Blaise, about 20 km from Annecy, but le Père Noël will be arriving in Annecy on Saturday, December 22nd. Parade at 2:30pm. For the Orthodox, Saint Nicolas visits le Père Noël on November 29th and December 6th; and for the Italians, la Befana will be here on January 3rd & 4th, as well as les Rois Mages on January 4th.

I won’t be putting up my decorations until Friday (I have to wait until Thanksgiving is over!), but I am very happy that I will have some sort of North American Christmas this year. I was feeling a little sad about staying in France for Christmas, so a Quebecois dinner and maple toffees should cheer me up.

L’Essor Savoyard: Local News from Annecy

By   October 27, 2008

Mamie had a copy of l’Essor Savoyard from this week lying around, so I read through it to check out the happenings in and around Annecy. (Unfortunately, this local newspaper doesn’t have a website, but the other one does: Le Dauphiné.)

Troops from the 27e BCA, which is located directly across from the lycée I taught at in 2006, will be leaving for Afghanistan shortly. 640 soldiers will leave in November and December for the bases in Nijrab and Tagab. It’s a little surreal to know that the guys I see jogging around Seynod and buying beer at LeClerc will be halfway around the world next month. I remember when Sarkozy announced he was going to send more troops to Afghanistan, but I never thought it would be my boys from BCA.

Second-hand clothing stores are becoming more and more popular since the pouvoir d’achat keeps decreasing and everyone is freaking out about the crise financière. I really need to check these out:

  • Bazar sans Frontières, 3 av. de Trois Fontaines in Seynod
  • Emmaüs, 18 impasse des Bois in Metz-Tessy
  • Scouts des Cluses, 26 av. de Pont de Tasset in Meythet
  • Vestiaire St. Martin, 3 rue des Jardins in Annecy (This place also has showers for 1 €, originally designed for anyone to use a half century ago when many people did not have showers in their homes, but now they mostly serve the homeless.)

A recent survey of Savoyards in the Ligue Savoisienne indicated that 87% would like Savoie & Haute-Savoie to separate from France and become a canton of Switzerland. Complete independence would be better, but joining Switzerland would be easier – and the main idea is to leave behind the “le pouvoir central le plus autocratique et le plus jacobin qu’on ait connu depuis 50 ans.” Even the Swiss who participated voted in favor of Savoie becoming suisse, 43.7% to 37.5%.

L’arpitan, also called franco-provençal, is the original language in the Savoie area.  Many Savoyards are still trying to get l’Education Nationale to recognize it as a minority language so that it will be taught in schools, like they do with le breton, le basque and le corse. Check out for more information, and you can also download a 1,770 page français-savoyard dictionary in PDF format.

The French expression of the day was: de fil en aiguille, which means “on passe progressivement et naturellement d’une chose à une autre qui lui fait suite.” And the Savoyard recipe of the day was, surprise surprise, Fondue à l’emmental.

Le Retour des Alpages 2008

By   October 11, 2008

I just returned from the Retour des Alpages festival today in Annecy. I managed to take more pictures than last year, though I didn’t see much of the parade from where I was standing. Once again, I was constantly reminded why I hate being in Annecy when it is really crowded. Usually it’s the little kids who drive me crazy, but today it was the old people. They are vicious when it comes to being in the front row for a parade! Haven’t they seen this parade like 50 times already anyway? Why not let the young people stand in front? Anyway…

This festival commemorates the end of the summer grazing period for the dairy herds in the mountains, so the farmers symbolically bring the animals home for the winter by parading them through the streets of Annecy. Mountain life and Savoy pride are very evident in this festival – Savoy meaning the départements of Savoie & Haute-Savoie in France, the Geneva region of Switzerland and the Aoste valley in Italy which were part of the original Savoy centuries ago before it was annexed to France in 1860 from the Kingdom of Sardinia. And because Savoy was the last mainland area to be added to the nation of France, there are still some separatist groups who believe Savoy should not belong to the Rhône-Alpes région and even some who believe that Savoy should not belong to France.

I have to admit, there are some days where I think I live in Savoy, not France. I see Savoy flags everywhere, which are very similar to the Swiss flag and I feel like I’m actually in Switzerland instead. I’ve always associated the Alps more with Switzerland than France, but I suppose that’s because my stereotypical image of France is more Paris vs. Provence than anything else. I know regional pride exists everywhere in France, from Brittany to Alsace, but in terms of years, Savoyards are the least French of them all.

Swiss horn-blowers provide the music.


I love cows because they give us CHEESE!!!

Let’s start the parade with horses.

Let’s interrupt the parade with an ambulance.

Let’s throw hay on everyone.

Thank goodness for zoom.

He’s not very happy.

These poor cows…

I was told these are Slovakian dancers from our sister city, Liptovský Mikuláš. They were adorable!

I didn’t get any photos of the geese, goats, sheep or any other animal in the parade, but I did get swan vs. dog.

If you haven’t already heard, Annecy is a candidate for the 2018 Winter Olympics. This huge banner will probably be there for the next ten years to remind you.

It was a gorgeous day in Annecy, sunny and 70’s. But the trees and I are ready for fall.

Possibly Free Public Transportation & Museums next week in France

By   September 8, 2008

September 16-22 is the Semaine Européenne de la Mobilité so check your city/town’s public transportation websites for information on the programme for the week. La journée des “transports publics” is Wednesday, September 17, so buses, bikes, trams, etc. may be free or have a reduced fare for the day.

Here in Annecy, Sibra buses and Vélonecy bikes are FREE the entire day! In neighboring Chambéry, the fare will be reduced to 1 € from the regular 1,10 €.

September 20-21 is the Journées Européennes du Patrimoine where many museums and historical sites are free and/or have special guided tours. Additionally, many private collections are also open to the public so it may be the only time of the year you will have access to them.

The Musée-Château in Annecy is offering guided tours about the history and architecture fo the castle each day at 2:30pm and the Palais de L’Ile will have tours at 10 am each day, as well as a special kid-friendly Moyen Age raconté aux Familles tour at 2:30pm Sunday. The Archives Départementales will have a photo exhibit of vacances en Haute-Savoie from the beginning of the 20th century and there will be an ouverture exceptionelle of the Roman bell tower in Annecy-le-Vieux. And of course, I will be first in line for the guided tour of the Préfecture of Haute-Savoie because I haven’t been there enough times over the past two years…

Want to buy property in Annecy? I hope you’re rich!

By   August 20, 2008

The table below shows property prices per square meter for major cities/towns in France, and the increase or decrease in price from 2007. Annecy is the 12th most expensive, and it is the first one on the list that is not in the Paris region or in the south.  You can thank Switzerland and the Alps for that.

City/Town in FrancePrice per m² Difference from 2007
Paris6,342 €+5.60%
Versailles5,125 €-1.00%
Antibes4,658 €+6.10%
Cannes4,640 €+5.60%
Saint-Maur-des-Fossées4,563 €+2.10%
Cagnes-sur-Mer4,488 €+8.40%
Biarritz4,469 €+8.20%
Saint-Laurent-du-Var4,404 €+3.10%
Clichy4,289 €+3.00%
Aix en Provence4,222 €+6.10%
Nice3,999 €+4.80%
Annecy3,507 €+3.70%
Créteil3,313 €+7.70%
Bayonne3,218 €+0.40%
La Rochelle3,160 €-6.60%
Toulon3,152 €+8.40%
Lyon3,079 €+2.70%
Marseille2,996 €-0.60%
Toulouse2,883 €+3.80%
Aix-les-Bains2,880 €-3.50%
Lille2,846 €+3.70%
Grenoble2,839 €-1.60%
Montpellier2,790 €+2.70%
Bordeaux2,785 €+2.70%
Meaux2,733 €+7.30%
Sète2,729 €+2.60%
Nantes2,674 €+1.40%
Reims2,638 €+1.50%
Rennes2,638 €-3.00%
Strasbourg2,511 €+1.00%
Mariganne2,456 €-3.50%
Dijon2,419 €+3.00%
Caen2,336 €+2.50%
Angers2,306 €+5.60%
Villefranche-sur-Saone2,301 €+4.40%
Orléans2,260 €+2.80%
Le Havre2,238 €+13.10%
Tours2,226 €-3.90%
Nîmes2,213 €+1.60%
Metz2,168 €+3.80%
Pau2,133 €+2.20%
Colmar2,121 €-6.50%
St Herblain2,118 €+1.60%
Chamalières2,104 €+3.10%
Nancy2,076 €-0.80%
Narbonne2,043 €-1.00%
Perpignan2,025 €+0.90%
Besançon2,021 €+3.20%
Clermont-Ferrand1,830 €-1.60%
Quimper1,825 €-0.40%
Troyes1,801 €+7.70%
Béziers1,797 €+3.30%
Boulogne-sur-Mer1,771 €-3.30%
Le Mans1,766 €+5.50%
Rodez1,717 €+6.40%
Mulhouse1,706 €+4.50%
Brest1,682 €+1.30%
Montauban1,647 €-0.60%
Vichy1,632 €-9.70%
Limoges1,591 €+2.20%
St Brieuc1,590 €+2.10%
Nevers1,260 €+3.70%

I can definitely say 3,507 € per square meter is correct for Annecy. If our landlord ever sells our apartment, she wouldn’t accept anything less than 160,000 € and it’s only 47 square meters.

Source: FNAIM April 2008