A friend and I traveled to France off season (fall) and loved it. We spent time in Paris, took a train to Geneva where we had arranged a car rental and then we headed for the majestic Alps.
Our trip included Albertville (stopped there for lunch), then onto Chamonix for several days, followed by stays in Val d’Isere, Megeve and Annecy. Let me share my memories of two favorite spots, which were our journey’s highlights: Chamonix and Annecy.
We stayed at the terrific Albert 1er which was central to the town with gorgeous views of Mont Blanc. Upon our arrival, we shopped for a picnic: bread, local wine (a Gamay and an Apremont) and cheese (triple crème) and enjoyed our fabulous goodies on our balcony surrounded by incredible beauty.
Taking the cable car to Aiquille du Midi above the town is a must. The cable car ride is thrilling and the view is spectacular. You are among the mountains and clouds. It is an awesome experience that will stay with you long after your visit. There is a small cafe where you can enjoy coffee and a snack while enthralled by the view.
A favorite pastime in Chamonix was walking about, marveling at towering Mont Blanc, stopping to enjoy coffee and a pastry, sitting outside, taking in the view. A favorite restaurant was Atmosphere, on the Arve River. The meals were superb, capped by fabulous meringue desserts.
For a different view of Mont Blanc, take the tunnel under the mountain which connects France and Italy (the Aosta Valley). Great way to spend a day, explore the area (very narrow streets) and indulge in Italian cuisine.
Called “The Venice of the Alps,” you will enjoy walking about the many canals and exploring this beautiful city. Walk the cobble stoned streets, stop for a pastry and take in the beauty all about. Check the schedule and browse and shop at the local markets. The variety of foods is quite incredible. As you walk about, stop and take photos of the Palais de l’Isle, which is one of France’s most photographed attractions. It is a local museum, only open in warmer months.
As you walk about, you will discover many terrific restaurants. Two dishes to try are the local Savoyard Fondue and Raclette. Once after eating a fondue and looking at the dessert menu, a woman at an adjoining table advised us not to have ice cream for dessert, as it would not go with the cheese fondue we had just eaten. Who knew? While both dishes are traditionally Swiss, the French have made them their own. Bon Appetite!
All that was needed was a sense of adventure, a smattering of French and a small French phrase book. People were friendly and helpful, cuisine marvelous, weather was great and the fall colors spectacular and no crowds. Off season travel has its advantages.
Travel well and often.