Lake Annecy is a rather gorgeous, violently turquoise-blue splodge of water cradled by a collection of imposing mountains that vary in silhouette from classic peak to stark, crests of ridge. It was formed by glaciers 18,000 years ago (thanks, Wiki) and has probably been a hit with tourists ever since. The stressful pilgrimage we undertook to reach this holiday mecca, in order to spend a week with Sam's family, left us feeling in need of some downtime (even four months of downtime can have it's moments).
For a beautiful photo of the lake, Google it... Here's our view, Annecy from atop a cliff in the hills above.
We were staying at Champ Tillet, in between the town of Faverges and the village, Marlens. It is a friendly family campsite with, most importantly, water slides. Normally we eschew any water feature more exciting than a shower in a campsite, but when we're not picking up the bill... (massive thanks to Sam's Mum & Dad!) We embraced spending the week in a suitably childish holiday manner; walking, swimming, sliding, eating, drinking, climbing, 'laxing, and of course drinking. We even went bicycling, something we had been talking about doing for ages, and were astonished by how much pain it left us in. It turns out that mocking cyclists in padded shorts was foolish in retrospect - our carefree pedalling without protection came back to bite us in the arse. Literally.
Before arriving we had done fairly thorough research on the climbing in the area, but failed to take into account the mountains. Again. Consequently, the many sites that were a mere centimeter away on the GoogleMaps were also about 2,000 meters up. Geographically enlightened, we re-evaluated. Again. We found a number of small crags near to the campsite that were 'reachable on foot'...
No. 1 - Rocher de Marlens: probably the best climbing of the three, in that it was the only one we managed to achieve any climbing. It is a jagged, jutting piece of rock that is much further from the road than it's appearance belies. Climbing there felt airy and the routes that we did were quite technical and delicate, and mostly generously bolted. Jolly nice outing.
No. 2 - Grotte aux Serpents: we think that we found this, although the ivy-draped, bramble-snarled shit-pit that neighbored a truck stop wardened by a 'lady of the forest' bore little resemblance to the photograph of a limestone cave, riddled with potential. There was a belay chain though. We continued walking, sans gruntle.
No. 3 - Cons-Sainte-Columbe: never found it. Went out on bikes in 37ºC with climbing gear, got hot and cross and gave up, then tried again with the car and still failed. It could be wonderful, but we will never know.
Amber way up there on the steep yet delicate head-wall at Rocher de Marlens (because it was steep yet delicate, she is on top-rope).
At the end of the week, after more goodbyes, we hit upon an idea: we would go to a bigger climbing site. After eliminating the obscure, the lofty and the nails, one climbing area above Annecy had the appealing access directions, "approach through the Animal Park". And so, we went to 'La Grande Jeanne', and it was easy to find, accessible, well bolted and with a good variety of routes. It was also single handedly the most polished crag we have been to *sigh*. Whinging aside, we had a good, efficient session, climbing five routes each, and the view from the top of the routes is spectacular. Oh, and the Animal Park - a peaceful, wooded parkland that has deer, chamois and very well-endowed goats in large enclosures. It was all rather lovely.
As the sun disappeared behind the mountains, we wandered back and drove through the endless hairpins up to the base of Mont Charvin (our project for the rest day...), as darkness inked out the dramatic scenery. At 1,380m, we fell asleep to a medley of barking, and the intriguing thought - are there wolves in the French Alps?