Lake Annecy is located about two hours’ drive from Lyon, near the France-Geneva border. It is dubbed as ‘the cleanest lake in Europe’, and rightfully so. The large lake is a crystal clear blue, so clear that you could see the bottom and would have the urge to jump in despite the cold weather. It is surrounded by tall, magnificent spikes of mountains, the beginning of the Alps, where people come to ski in winter. The fact that David Beckham, George Washington and the Queen of Geneva came here for their vacation also adds a whole other level of excitement to it.
I went on a gastronomic affair at Lake Annecy and Lyon. Here are some things I stuck in my gob, which I personally think you shouldn’t miss when you’re here.
1. Potato Gratin – there are many small local cafes around town, and most of them serves potato gratin. The one I had was particularly delicious, baked with four types of regional cheeses from the area. It is really rich and if you finish the whole bowl, you will feel sick. Which is a good thing.
2. Tiny fried fish – I don’t know what it’s called in French. We passed a small café and saw a lady eating a plate of tiny fishes, pointed to it at the waiter and said we wanted exactly that. The fish has a wonderful crunch, with enough texture to capture the freshness of the fish. I wanted to take a picture of the plate, but I think I was temporarily unconscious somewhere between eating that a fat bowl dish of potato gratin.
3. Ice cream – or called glaces in French. There are a number of ice cream parlours, so much so that you would see one in every hundred meters. The trick is to buy a single scoop each time, so you get to enjoy different flavours in a relaxed pace. Chocolate is a failproof choice, as is fruit sorbets. If you feel yourself dreading eating too much ice cream, consider it a payback after all those childhood years when Mom said "no more ice cream".
4. Eggplant Parmiginia – granted, it’s Italian. But I had one of the best eggplant parmigiana in Lyon. It is eggplants sliced and baked with fresh tomato sauce, layered with stringy cheese. The next time I'm having a breakup, I'll be eating this again to recover.
5. Éclairs – Buttery, elongated pastry stuffed with chocolate cream, then dipped in rich, dark chocolate. Try one at Le Peche Mignon Patissier. The bakery has an impressive showcase of pastries, cookies and cakes. Chances are you'll be having more than just one eclair. Sometimes the sugar rush can lead to terrible decisions your hips will regret.
6. Crepe – Find a crepe stop, which is popular around France, and get one. You can have the basic crepe with a sprinkle of sugar, or if you want to reward yourself for being such a good citizen of the world, get a Nutella crepe. I had so many of those during my France travel that my sister worried I was becoming diabetic.
7. Cheese Platter - Make a point to try them in at least every other restaurant. For a reasonable price, you will usually get at least four different kinds of regional cheeses, with fresh bread and French butter. A good way to try cheeses without having to buy a whole block of them.
6. Smoked Salmon Toast - I had this for breakfast in Lyon. I've always liked savoury breakfasts, so this one is perfect (unless Nasi Lemak comes into the picture). Toasted, sturdy bread topped with salty, smoked salmon, olives, fresh tomatoes and cheese. This with a cup of tea? Tres bien.
6. Feast your eyes – pay €20 for a two-hour cruise around the lake. You will not regret this. The view is utterly beautiful, and the chilly wind only adds to the rush. Imagine David Beckham also looking at the same view as you are. Now don’t you feel special?
So there it is. If you have more time, there are so many other delicacies to try around Lake Annecy. Good food, great scenery. That for me is the ultimate vacation.