Distinctive By Nature
Annecy is a mountain town nestled at the foot of the highest Alpine mountains. The town itself lies at just about 400 meters in elevation (1300+ feet) and at the top of Lac Annecy. At thirteen kilometers in length and a max depth of 82 meters (270 feet), this is the third largest lake in France. The old town – charming, quaint, and historic – is usually listed among the most beautiful villages in France. Of course, the lake contributes to this scene, but is also an often-overlooked attraction. When I visited in 2012, I of course was struck by the town’s beauty and the picturesque composition of the Lake’s clear blue water and the striking backdrop of mountains. Indeed, it’s the perfect introduction to the Alpine environment. As I left my hotel under the Chateau de Annecy and made my way towards the Plage de Marquisats for a quick swim, I was fully prepared for a chilly experience despite the warm August air. To my delightful surprise, the water was warm and refreshing. Little did I know that the Lake reaches temperatures of 24 degrees (75 Fahrenheit) Celsius in the middle of summer. With this in mind, the summertime possibilities become endless at Lac Annecy. Beautiful beaches line the lake, but for a fully immersive experience, rent a paddle board and head out to explore. In places, the lake is a mere two kilometers wide, so even one paddle board rental recommends crossing the lake for lunch. Either way, stand up paddle boarding is a great way to see Annecy from a different vantage point, one that is distinctive by nature.
Experience La Maison du Bois
With only twenty-seven Michelin 3-Star restaurants nationwide, when the Tour passes one, it is a rarity that must be honored and devoured. Outside of Paris, Stage 10 offers the gastronomic (think foodie) fan a mountain high experience that is truly unique. It is at the top of the Col de la Croix Fry, at an elevation of 1,650 meters (5,000+ feet) France gained the newest addition to this elite group. The 5-Star Michelin hotel and 3-Star restaurant, Maison du Bois, are the latest brainchild of Annecy-born Marc Veyrat. Perhaps eccentric in his characteristic and distinctive wide-brimmed black hat, it is this unconventionality that has defined Veyrat’s approach to food with organic and molecular flair that has garnered him three Michelin Stars at each of his three restaurants over the course of his career. Maison du Bois is its own sustainable ecofriendly village that epitomizes the meaning of sustainability. The sprawling complex, with garden, spa, and pond, features breathtaking views of Mont Blanc’s snow-capped summit. Inside, the restaurant can be described as rustic modern, with wood paneling and exemplary views of the slopes. It is elegant but not stuffy. But the food is what keeps people guessing. Veyrat’s style has been described as “mineral and pastoral” – eating naturally from the world around us. With an emphasis on organics and local consumption (think farm to table at its best), Veyrat’s 3-Star rating is all the more impressive given the seemingly limiting location. This is where the chef’s creativity takes over, for he exhibits his knowledge of molecular gastronomy to make it all work. Even for the price, to experience La Maison du Bois is to witness a genius in his element.
For Reflection and Resistance
The 2018 Tour’s Stage 10 offers a truly diverse set of options to view the Tour, but perhaps none equal the pristine and serene nature of offered by the Plateau de wonderful Plateau des Glières, topped by the Col de Glières. With an average gradient of 11.2% and a max of 23.4 over 6.7 kilometers, this will be the hardest of the day’s four climbs and could see someone strike out for the Yellow Jersey or the day’s win. Aside from a strategic cycling position, the Plateau is a tranquil and beautiful wide meadow surrounded by craggy yet accessible mountains. The ridgelines make for excellent day-hiking excursions and offer glorious views of the Plateau, Mont Blanc, and the white-topped Alps. From places like the Pointe de la Québlette, one can see the expanses and geographic terrain that forms this island in the sky. Such isolation (and proximity to neutral Switzerland) also made this area a centerpiece to the World War II Resistance. To commemorate the sacrifices of the wider French guerilla efforts to fight back, and especially those several hundred maquis who died during a siege on March 12, 1944. The breathtaking memorial is now the National Monument to the Resistance, designed by sculptor Emile Gilioli, making this a place for reflection, inspiration, and victory.