A magical trip to the Alps

Annecy, France

In August I found myself transferring between two jobs, with a few weeks off, so Fem and I decided we’d take a little bit of a spontaneous trip to Annecy, France, to satisfy our cravings for being in the mountains again.

We flew off to Geneva, picked up a cheap rental car (read: terrible Renault piece of crap) and found a lovely Airbnb close to the lake, but out in the nature.

Geneva is just an hour from Amsterdam by plane, and under €100, but it feels like a world away.

Annecy is an area where there’s basically every outdoor sport you can imagine in a single place. You can waterski, hike, paraglide, mountain climb, cycle, mountain bike and everything else you’re able to come up with… all in a single city.

We were mostly in the area to hike, so every day was jam-packed with a different hike. On the very first day we scaled Mont Veyrier, which is 1,291m.

One tiny spot we found was after a long drive to the top of a mountain where there was a paragliding launch station. These people were launching one after another into the sky, without breaking a sweat.

Eventually, it just kinda looked like multi-color confetti floating around.

I thought the first day was pretty steep, but it got even crazier on day two, when we drove to Chamonix and scaled L'Index at a solid 2,595 (though that had a chairlift about a third of the way!).

L'Index – and the Alps – were beautiful, but perhaps a stark reminder of climate change. There are six glaciers up there, all of them looking in an incredibly sad, receded state. It’s kinda humbling just how much of a mark of human decimation they are.

Oh, and the other thing about Chamonix? The chair lifts are crazy expensive – it was €68 return for the two of us… just to go for a hike. Insane, given the prices in the winter when you can actually ski are the same.

On the way back from Chamonix, we found a ‘Canyon walk’ which was built by a French man in the 1800’s who discovered this incredible area and wanted to share it with the world – really cute, and a ton of work for them to maintain.

Our second-to-last day was spent conquering the highest peak in Annecy, a mountain called La Tournette, at a staggering 2,351. The hike involved an increase in elevation of 2,351m, and took about six hours bottom to top.

This was probably one of the most stunning – and exhausting – hikes I’ve ever done, but it was worth it at the top. I recorded my heart rate with Apple Watch, and it was basically a strenous walk for a solid four hours, looking at the graph.

It’s an exhausting battle uphill, especially in the 30-degree heat on the day we attempted it, since there’s very little shade on that side of the mountain.

After the trip down I basically couldn’t walk for a while – it was incredibly steep and loose, so brutal on the knees and ankles.

Our adorable house in Annecy was up the hill in a tiny commune called Saint Eustache – it’s certainly an area you wouldn’t be able to get around in without a car, but Airbnb made it incredibly cheap to stay in the area, even though it’s so touristic.

We ended each long day of hiking with a dip in the lake, since it was over 30 degrees reliably. Lake Annecy is seriously warm and refreshing after a solid six hours of walking!

If you ever get the chance to head to Annecy, I highly recommend it. Spend a week there, don’t waste your time in the tourist areas… and climb some mountains!

It’s refreshing for the soul, especially when you live somewhere as flat as Amsterdam. 😏

- August 2016