Underworld

I’ve been away for a few days, and they were much needed! Although I haven’t really travelled to many other countries, I do like to get around as much as I can! I’m like a bird on a wire – always ready for the off.

We are lucky to have family who live in a stunning part of the world – a city called Annecy, nestled against the breath-taking backdrop of the Alps. Annecy, like any other modern city, has a huge suburban sprawl. However once you hit the heart of the Vieille Ville (old town), you can see how this city developed as a tourist destination.

The old town center embraces the stunning Lac de Annecy, a heavenly lake. Its slim form, due to glaciation, is flanked on either side in the city, by the rather impressive Hôtel de Ville (city hall), and the Imperial Palace Hotel, which dates from 1913. I have spent some wonderful, relaxing days both in the lake and out of it!

Every time I go to Annecy, I try to make the most of what are usually short and fleeting weekends. This time I managed to visit a special place that I’ve wanted to visit for quite a while, the Gorges du Fier.

The Fier river, over the whirring of centuries, has born down into its limestone bed. The result is a narrow gorge, made accesible to visitors by a walkway. Not for those prone to a fear of heights or wobbliness at the knees!

Since moving to France, I have worked in tourism, and I haven’t been fortunate enough to have holidays while the sun shines. Therefore, any major tourist sites that I have visited, have usually been appreciated under the pouring rain, or in the freezing cold. I wasn’t working this Easter weekend and I was quite hopeful for good weather. We were helping mon homme‘s aunt prepare for her retirement party and our only window for sight-seeing was on Easter Saturday afternoon. Did it rain that afternoon? Why yes it did – in buckets!

Nevertheless, determined, we soldiered on and paid our entrance fee (5€50 adult, 3€ child, free under 7). I didn’t really know what to expect, and though the Grand Canyon it isn’t, it was nothing if not awe-inspiring.

Perched 25 metres high, on the walkway, the sensation was quite strange. The waters below, swollen with April rain, were thundering through their rocky attire. The noise was enormous, and coupled with the height, lent itself to a slightly disorientating feeling.

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It isn’t an incredibly long walk, 40 minutes to reach the end and back, but well worth it. While we were walking along, I was so busy looking down at the swirling water, I hadn’t noticed a railway bridge traversing the gorge over our heads. Just at the same moment, the train from Annecy to Aix-les-Bains bellowed overhead. I thought I was going to have a heart attack I got such a fright!

Once recovered, I was able to let the ambience seep in. It isn’t a spot for sunlight on any day, so the colours were hues of dark greens and blue. The water was that beautiful shade of blue-grey that is particular to the mountains.

The rocky walls of the narrow passage have developed in such a way that your eyes play tricks on you. You can see faces emerge, as if calling to the depths. River debris hides out in holes, sculpted deep into rock.

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You have to applaude the vision of people who make these sites accessible. Thanks to them we get to explore places of wonder and beauty. It never bothers me to pay an entrance fee for the upkeep of somewhere that would ordinarily be out of reach, as long as the price is reasonable.

We had two hours in total to go and visit the Gorges setting out from Annecy, and we had enough time. So if you’re in this neck of the magnificent Rhône-Alps region then I would recommend a look.

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The party was wonderful on Easter Sunday. The sun shining, and family re-united, we made the most of some delicious food, and of course a few glasses of wine! The Easter bunny was kind too! Here, they call the hunting down of innocent Easter eggs les cloches, which literally means “the bells.” I think we may have chocolate in the house for the rest of 2015!

Hope everyone had a lovely Easter! It is one of my favourite times of the year in France. There is a freshness and a brightness to this period that help people to breathe differently. The tension we can hold throughout winter dissipates and gets carried away with Spring showers.

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