A Travellerspoint blog

France

Annecy, France

After Paris, I headed to Annecy. It is a smaller town an hour south of Geneva. I went there because a woman that I worked with the past few months, Stephanie, grew up there and recommended that I visit. I got there by train from Paris and then walked to the hostel. I got really lucky because the hostel I was staying at was the perfect backpacking hostel. This guy named Sergio, who was from Spain, checked me in. After I put down my bags I went to walk around the town. As I was leaving the hostel I ran into Sergio again and we started talking. He asked where I was going and I told him I was heading into town to walk around. He said that he was waiting for a friend and then heading to the beach but they were walking the same direction so he offered to walk with me. I met his friend Fulvia, who was from Brazil. They were both so nice and we really got along. They stopped in town at an amazing sandwich shop which Sergio said was the best. He had been working at the hostel for a year and a half so he knew all the best places in town. They asked if I wanted to go to the beach with them and I said sure. We sat along the beach for a few hours and walked around to see a bit more of the city. It was beautiful. I should clarify that the beach was at Lake Annecy. The lake is huge and has several small towns surrounding it and beyond the towns are giant mountains.
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I talked to Fulvia, who had the next day off, and we made plans to go hiking the next day. The next morning I got up early and walked around town for a few hours. The old city was a few minutes from the hostel. There were lots of small canals with bridges running all over them and all sorts of shops and restaurants in these old beautiful buildings. There were tons of swans and ducks in the river. There is one bridge that looks over an island in the middle of the canal. It is a castle that was used as a prison but you can now tour. It is the most famous bridge in the city. There is also a giant beautiful park right on the lake. I ended up wandering up to a castle and decided to go in. It had been converted into a museum with art, exhibits about the history of the lake, and a separate museum/laboratory about the conservation of the lake.
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In the afternoon I met Fulvia at the hostel for lunch. We were debating about whether or not to go on the hike because there had been possible rain for the afternoon and Fulvia hadn't gone hiking before. There were 2 guys sitting at the table next to us and one of them told us we have to go. He was American and said he had done the hike a few days ago and that it was a must-see. He showed us pictures from the hike so we decided to go. The guy he was sitting with said that he had wanted to go on the hike too so we asked him if he wanted to join us and he agreed. His name was Victor and he was from Switzerland. We all headed off to get ready and then met back in the kitchen. Fulvia said there were two more people joining us. They were both working at the hostel too. One was named Larissa, and she had arrived the same day as me from Brazil. The other was Adrian and he was Sergio's brother. So all 5 of us headed out on this hike. We walked around part of the lake to get to the bottom of the mountain. The first 5 minutes were hard because it was straight uphill in the sun but after the path was shaded by the trees and there were lots of switchbacks which made the hike pretty easy. It took us about 2 hours to get up. The view from the top was pretty amazing. you could see the whole lake and the towns around it. It was a really great experience because none of us really knew each other when we left the hostel but we all became friends by the time we got back.
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It only took us about an hour to get back down. After we were so exhausted but we still wanted to celebrate what we had done that day so we met up for drinks on the patio outside. We sat around and talked for a few hours. Sergio joined us when he finished working and it was so fun. I was supposed to leave the next day to go to Geneva but I decided to stay another night there because I loved the hostel, the town, and the people so much.

The next morning I walked around again. This time there was a giant farmers market with all sorts of cheeses, wines, fish, vegetables, and of course, bread. I got a crepe for breakfast and then wandered around the town for a few hours. In the afternoon I met up with Fulvia, Sergio, Larissa, Adrian, and Victor and we went to the beach. I tried getting in the water but it was too cold and there was a storm coming. That night, there was a holiday in France so there were music festivals in all the streets. It was once a year and I felt really lucky that I had stayed another night to be able to see that. I went into town with Fulvia and Adrian. On every street corner, there were different musicians playing. They were playing all sorts of music and it was so fun to listen to all of it. After a few hours, it started raining so we went back to the hostel and hung out with Sergio, Larissa, and Victor again. That's what I love so much about staying in hostels. You meet people and can immediately hang out and become friends, even for 2 days.

My last morning in Annecy I walked around town on my own, and then again with Larissa. Both Fulvia and Larissa walked with me to the bus station which was so nice of them. It was a little hard to leave that place but it is definitely somewhere that I'll go back to.
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Posted by Ilana'sGapYear 22:33 Archived in France Comments (0)

Paris

I went by train from Germany to Paris. My friend Helene picked me up from the train station. I met Helene and her sister Claire when we were in Bali. Claire is actually still traveling in Southeast Asia so I stayed with Helene. There was another guy staying with her too, his name was Sandro and he was from Italy. My first afternoon in Paris we went to Montmartre which is a really nice neighborhood in Paris. We climbed up the stairs to the Sacré-Cœur Church and from there we had a really nice view of Paris. We walked around the neighborhood there for a while too but there were so many people there because it was a Sunday.

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Sunday night we went to the Quai and met with some of Helene's friends. We sat at a cafe along the Seine River and drank cocktails and got to know each other. They were very accommodating and tried to speak English when they could. We watched the sunset and it was a really nice night with good people.

The next morning we got up early to take Sandro to the bus station so he could take a bus to the airport. Afterward, Helene and I went to go see the Eiffel Tower. It actually lived up to my expectations, which was a bit surprising. I feel like for giant landmarks like that, they usually don't end up being as great as they're advertised to be but I really thought the Eiffel Tower was cool. Here are some not very good pictures I took of the Eiffel Tower.

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After the Eiffel Tower, I stopped at a bakery and got a chocolate eclair which was amazing. Then we walked to the Champs-Elysées and the Arc de Triomphe. That was really cool to see but I didn't stop to do any shopping.

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For dinner, we headed into the Jewish Quarter (per Bruce's recommendation) to get falafel. We went to the most popular restaurant and I ended up getting shakshuka instead but it was really good so I was happy. I asked if it came with pita and the waiter told me it came with a baguette. I thought that was really funny and really French. After dinner, we walked around the area for a while and then met up with some other friends we had made in Bali, Jeremy, Mackenna, and Svea. We walked around until we found the perfect spot along the river to watch the sunset. It was really fun to all be together after 8 (ish) months.

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The next morning Helene and I got a late start and went to meet her friend Leah for lunch. She was really nice and we met up with her again later that night. After lunch, Helene and I went to the Musée d'Orsay, which is a really nice art museum across the river from the Louvre. We spent a few hours walking around and looking at all the paintings. I saw paintings by Renoir, Degas, Monet, and Van Gogh (to name a few). Here are some of my favorite paintings from the museum.

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After the museum, we walked around the Tuileries and the Louvre. I didn't go inside the Louvre because it was closed on Tuesday, apparently the only day of the week it's closed. It would have been smart to look that stuff up in advance but I'll know for next time. I did get to see the big pyramid though and walk around the area for a while. I stopped for 20 minutes to listen to a street musician who was playing the cello. That night we went to meet Leah and another one of Helene's friends for dinner. We sat and talked for a really long time but it was really cool to get to know some other people as well.

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Paris is a beautiful city. It really is. No, it's not the cleanest but all the buildings are so intricately designed and because they are all the same style it gives Paris a really unified feeling.

Posted by Ilana'sGapYear 10:09 Archived in France Comments (0)

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