Tweety with beret in Rhone-Alps (France)


Annecy (the Savoyard Venice), Chambéry, Lake of Bourget and Yvoire

With its high mountains, Savoy is a paradise for hikers in summer (who may come across nice animals : marmots, stoats, ibexes...) and skiers in winter. Among the culinary specialties there are cheese fondue, tartiflette, crosses of Savoy, reblochon, génépie (a digestif made from sort of wormwood)...

Annecy is the prefecture of Haute-Savoie and Chambery the prefecture of Savoy. Savoy (in general i.e. Savoy and Haute-Savoie departements) had been independant from the 11th century until 1713 when it was incorporated to the Kingdom of Sardinia. As Napoleon III helped Prime Minister Cavour of Kingdom of Sardinia to unify Italy against Austria, a referendum was held to ask to Duchy of Savoy (and County of Nice) citizens wether they wanted to become Italian or French. They chose to become French and Savoy (as Nice) was incorporated to France in 1860.



The beautiful town of Annecy is known for its lake at the foot of the cliffs.

Lake of Annecy


The castle overlooks the city and hosts various exhibitions.

Basilica of the Visitation

Basilica of the Visitation

It is also a city of pilgrimage to St. Francis de Sales, "builder of the church" and "Doctor of Love", and St. Jeanne de Chantal, patroness of vocations. They are both founders of the order of visitation.

The Church of the Visitation was built between 1922 and 1930 to keep their relics. Stained glass windows describe their lives. The mosaics of the choir depict the mystery of the Trinity and the Redemption. The tabernacle represents the tree of Jesse (which relates the genealogy of Christ. Jesse was David's father). The reliquaries of the two Saints are placed on both sides of the choir.


The town has three churches (St. Maurice, St. Francis, and Our Lady of Liesse) and one cathedral (St. Peter) in addition to the basilica of the Visitation.

Old city and the palace of Isle

One can stroll along the canals and arcaded streets. The Palace of Isle (twelfth century) is named after its location on an island of Thiou. It is a former prison.

Flowered canal Palace of Isle (seen from bridge perrière)

Chambéry (50 km away)

The fountain of the elephants is one of the curiosities of the city. It is called "les quatre sans culs" which means the four without ass.

St. Francis de Sales' cathedral has the largest trompe-l'oeil area in Europe with 6,000 m2(7175 square yards) ! A chapel has a relic (forearm) from St. Francis de Sales (Note : no picture of the gate in the gallery because of refurbishment during my visit).

Fountain of the elephants Nave (with trompe-l'oeil) of the cathedral

Lake of Bourget (45 km away)

South of Annecy, Lake of Bourget (not to be confused with the Parisian museum of air and space) is the largest natural lake in France. It is situated at the foot of cliffs.

Lake of Bourget

We can visit the royal abbey of Hautecombe where were buried the counts of Savoy. Only the church founded by St. Bernard around 1125 can be visited (30 minutes) : the rest of the abbey is occupied by a community. The church is worth visiting for its decoration in a troubadour Gothic style, its tombs and cenotaphs, its murals, the life-sized statue of Queen Marie-Christine with an impressive fineness of details, the pillars with statues of mourners (pictures are forbidden)...

In Savoy, there are churches with an onion-shaped tower. Have a look at one of them in near Hautecombe in the gallery.

Yvoire (70 km away)

On the edge of Lake Geneva, Yvoire is a charming medieval village. We can take the boat towards other cities in Haute-Savoie or Switzerland.

Church of Yvoire Boat

To be seen : the garden of 5 senses. This garden is composed of a garden of taste (edible vegetables and fruits), a garden of smell (you rub the leaves and then you can smell various scents : mint, blackcurrant...), a garden of touch (the plants have different kind of foliage : soft, velvety, smooth, rough, prickly...), a garden of sight (colors vary from pale blue to purple with shades of pink), and a garden of hearing (with water and birds). It is quite original ! There is also a small garden from a medieval styled cloister, thus divided into four (the number four is a symbol of earth) with medicinal and aromatic plants.

Castle Garden of five senses