As I mentioned in my last blog post, today was an official family day. We took the train to my husband’s hometown, Thomery, to visit with his uncle and cousin’s family, my sister-in-law and her husband, and one of my brothers-in-law.
We are here. In the city I love. Actually, we’re on the outskirts of Paris, staying in my brother-in-law’s apartment in a town called Nogent-sur-Marne. The apartment is located in a highrise and their balcony offers a terrific view of Paris. It’s hazy today, but here’s a photo of the city’s most famous monument taken from our digs.
We’re ending our two weeks in this magical town on a high note, for a couple of reasons:
(1) We had two good meals, with lovely waiters. Actually, most of our waiters after the meanie (Sophie’s word, not mine) on the first day have been lovely. We finally found a traditional French restaurant for lunch – a brasserie, not a creperie or a pizzeria. Sounds strange, I know. But in the area of the city where we’re staying, the majority of the restaurants serve typical Savoyard fare (which is delicious but very heavy – raclette, fondue, tartiflette), crepes or pizzas.
After we dropped Grammy at the airport this morning, we decided to take a detour to a picturesque medieval village on the French side of Lake Geneva called Yvoire. The town, which probably has the most flowers per capita than any other town in the world, is dominated by a chateau owned by the d’Yvoire family. Yes, you know you’re minor royalty when your surname is the town’s name.
We spent another relatively relaxed day today – avoiding long car rides so that Sophie would be spared the windy roads a little while longer. We did take a short drive about 15 minutes outside of town to the Gorges du Fier, a beautiful walk through steep cliffs formed many moons ago.
Today was a designated official day of rest. After a few days of mountain driving, it was time to enjoy a day in Annecy. We slept in, bought lots of fruit at the market and packed a picnic lunch. We enjoyed a dejeuner sur l’herbe on the lakefront, similar to Manet’s painting, except we were all clothed.
It would have been a shame to be so close to Italy without stepping foot in Italy. So after sitting in some toll traffic and driving through the longest – about 11 km – and highest – about 1,300 meters – tunnel we’ve ever been in, we arrived in Italia, on the other side of Mont Blanc.
Today was a designated family day. However, before making the obligatory family visits, we had a few things we needed to take care of first. Starting with breakfast. My husband came home from the boulangerie with a pain au chocolat made for a giant. We split it into four parts, but sad to say, it did not contain a giant’s portion of chocolate.
After our eventful day in Chamonix yesterday, it was time for some relaxation and fun in the sun. We went to a beach on Lake Annecy, rented lounge chairs and enjoyed the turquoise water, mostly from the sand. The water was cold – 21°C (69.8°F) alpine cold. But how can one resist the temptation of swimming in such an idyllic setting, no matter the temperature?
We started in Chamonix at an altitude of 1,035 meters (3,396 feet) and 26°C (78°F). We took the Montenvers rack rail train up the side of one of the mountains to the Mer de Glace, the largest glacier in France, pictured below, at an altitude of 1913 meters (6,276 feet) and 16°C (61°F). The glacier is pretty amazing, but has suffered from the effects of climate change – its thickness has been reduced by 3-4 meters/year since 1988.