Last week, I headed off to Annecy, France to photograph MOF and Champion du Monde, Philippe Rigollot, at work in his kitchen. While those photos are sure to blow your mind, you’ll need to wait until June for me to unveil them. But you don’t need to wait for me to show you around Annecy. So lace up some sensible shoes, and get ready to absorb one of the most beautiful towns in France – an enchanted wonderland at the feet of les Alpes – with a lake so crystal clear you can see straight to the bottom of it.
Aside from the Lac d’Annecy, the ville’s other claim to fame is its 12th century prison above (and in many of the photos to follow). Yes, I said 12th century. It’s three times older than the United States. It’s also purported to be one of the most photographed anythings in all of France.
Annecy also excels at stunning doors and windows. While we’re only three pictures into this, do you already kind of want to move here? I can’t blame you. ‘Tis lovely at every turn.
It’s the prison again – this time at dusk. Too pretty. Surrounded by a bevy of gelaterias and restaurants, you can soak in its punitive charms from myriad angles.
Gorgeous at night, too, since they light it up, inside and out. Choice real estate that it is, I don’t think I would mind being a prisoner here. Can you imagine being sentenced to be incarcerated? The judge would have to be like, “For the crime of Gluttony in the 1st Degree, you are hereby sentenced to your own quaint lakeside prison palace in the heart of adorable Annecy, France. Stunning sunrises over the Alps begin promptly at 7:30am. Meals are only available at-whim from one of the restaurants in the courtyard. And you’ll only receive 1 hour of peddle-boat rides in the canal each day, for you and a buddy.”
Annecy’s affinity for lighting everything extends far and wide. There’s a water fountain light show in the lake, and they even light the trees in the lakeside park. I just loved the shot below. The green . . . and the geometry of it. These Annecy’ans know what they’re doing.
Did I mention that, much like Strasbourg, they have swans in their canals? Yeah. And since everything is lit up pretty, the whole swan situation is extra fairytale’esque at night.
During the daytime, the lake, nestled at the feet of the Alps, is just a dazzler. The next few shots were taken on a cloudy day, so I flipped them over to black-and-white to heighten the moody effect. Enjoy…
I like how the leaves/limbs echo the shape of the mountains here…
Check out these fishermen. Could it get more serene there?
A sunrise shot from my last morning in Annecy. The beams of light cut through the haze, which makes the succession of peaks fade away into creamy whiteness. There are a few more further back that are totally obscured by the humidity in the air.
And back to the prison we go. A side view from the northern canal….
And this final shot really encapsulates one of the best ways to enjoy an Annecy vacation. Walk out onto one of the many docks, take off your shoes, and go to sleep. You’re in heaven, after all.
So there you go – Annecy! Did you stop halfway through reading this and log onto Expedia to book a flight and hotel? If so, good. If not, you’d better hurry – they book-up quickly. Even I, much as I love Paris and city life, am seriously thinking about a return visit. It’s just too peaceful and away from everything. I love you, Annecy.
My first week back in Paris, acclaimed Mad About Macarons author, Jill Colonna, and I decided to meet up for . . . macarons. The gameplan was to swing by Pain de Sucre for a sac of their goodies and then to lounge-away the mid-afternoon at Jacques Genin, sipping hot chocolate and eating pastries. Don’t feel envious in the least; it’s not as glamorous and relaxing as it sounds. It’s actually even more awesome than that, so feel envious in the most
You’ll get to see more of my Pain de Sucre macaron indulgences another day, but for now, let’s have a seat at Monsieur Genin’s. As you can see in the top shot, it’s quite the posh setup for a hot cocoa salon. Why can’t we have anything like this in the United States? Probably because we’re animals who think pouring boiling water into a package of Swiss Miss is as swank as the chocolat chaud experience ever needs to get. Myself, I prefer this…
I also prefer any dining/salon situation where I’m given a complimentary selection of fine handmade chocolates as the appetizer. I believe every meal should start that way.
Jill decided to go for a cappuccino and Monsieur Genin’s Ephemere Passion (a little passion fruit/chocolate pastry). According to her, 11am was too early for a millefeuille and super thick hot chocolate. I was like, “You are so right. That would just be disgusting and excessive.” Little did she know the quiet shame I felt inside, having literally eaten a Hugo & Victor millefeuille, which I’d been saving in the fridge, that morning. Nor did she realize how many breakfast pastries I’d also consumed from our friends at Ladurée a mere two hours before meeting up with her.
As for me, I selected a caramel éclair. A bite or two in, Jill asked if she could take a photo. I said, “Sure.” But I was really thinking about all the chocolate and caramel gobs clinging to my teeth (so no real smiling in the photos she took) and how misleadingly “suggestive” it would be snapping yours truly, putting its turgid 8” to my lips. It’s only later that I realized I should have treated it as a mustache instead; that would have easily sidestepped the visual innuendo. btw – The éclair was sublime; you’ll see the review of it at some point in the week ahead.
Below are two nice shots of Jill digging into her Ephemere. In the first photo, she just looks giddy to take a bite. In the second one, she’s saying , “What the **** is this chocolate doing on the side? How are you supposed to eat something like that with a fork?” I suggested we call our server over, admonish him for it, and then thrust the pastry toward him so forcefully that it would splatter against his smock. Instead, she decided to just suffer in silence.
Here’s a nice close-up of Jill’s pastry. She was still really ****** about the chocolate situation, attempting to break it into little pieces and eat it by hand. I don’t disagree with her at all. Even though the chocolate there was quite tasty, there was no lady-like way for her to enjoy it. Perhaps the pastry should not have the chocolate on the sides . . . and, instead, the server can just stand to the customer’s right – with a plate of broken chocolate pieces and some sterling silver chocolate tongs. When one has a bite ready on their fork, he can just quickly pop into place a sliver of chocolate atop it. Problem solved!
On our way out, I felt compelled to purchase some of Monsieur Genin’s caramels for myself, and because I’m classy, a bag for Jill to take home, too. I only wish I’d bought more, as I haven’t been able to get back to the shop in the weeks since, and with so many goodies yet to enjoy there (and hot chocolate to be consumed by the gallon), a return visit is soon to be in order. Of course, should you find yourself wandering Rue Turrenne anytime soon, I highly recommend stopping by.
As you guys saw in Part 1 of the Mulhaupt Chronicles last Tuesday, I ran off to Strasbourg, France a couple weeks ago. Aside from wanting to meet and photograph Monsieur Mulahupt, I was also just excited to soak in the splendor of the Alsatian capital. I didn’t really have a gameplan of places to visit though. My policy was to be one of “aggressive wandering”, and as you’ll see, I stumbled across some thoroughly picturesque spots.
The above is just the town church, and by “town church” I mean . . . tremendously famous massive Gothic Cathedral. Until you see it in person, you can’t believe how enormous (142m) or ornate it is. Plus, it doesn’t seem to matter where you’re standing in town; you can almost always spot it towering over the tops of the other buildings. Case-in-point is the shot below. Don’t you wish the bridge in front of your house and all the bridges in your neighborhood looked just like that? Hmm? Your neighborhood doesn’t have 5 million storybook bridges like Strasbourg? Sadly, few do. Lucky Strasbourgians!
But you do have swans swimming through your canals, right? No? No swans? And no canals? Me neither. These people live in a fairy tale!
I wasn’t kidding about the bridge situation. Every block or two around the old city, there’s a bridge. Most just span the canals they constructed, but then there are the big ones going across the Ill River. The below is just another footbridge over the canals. See the little paths in the grass there? People just walk along those to get to work, when they’re not riding on the city’s super-futuristic trams. I only wish I’d taken a shot of those. It blows your mind that in Hansel & Gretel world, it feels like the Jetsons also took up residence. Strasbourg is as much a historic city as it is a modern wonderland.
As much as I love Paris, I wouldn’t mind living in the center house below for a week. How better to improve my odds of spotting the troll who clearly lives beneath the bridge there. I mean . . . seriously. I have no doubt Strasbourg has taken every effort to maintain all facets of medieval life: buildings, bridges, cathedrals, trolls and certainly a Smurf enclave or two.
Even my camera did a little time travel when I snapped the shot below. I had it set, as normal, but when the shutter clicked, the LCD read, “This scene is far too olden-timey to be kept in color. Automatic black-and-white conversion in progress.” I’m just lucky a Daguerreotype didn’t pop out.
Exhausted from all the history and culture I was consuming, I decided to swing by Monsieur Mulhaupt’s pastry shop and grab a lingot of pain d’épices. I didn’t want to look like a glutonous tourist or anyting, so I carefully broke off small pieces from the loaf and chewed them when no one seemed to be looking. I most definitely did not attempt to jam the entire thing into my face, while holding my camera at arm’s length, looking as though someone just caught me ********* in public. So I’m really not sure how this picture got in the mix . . .
I was able to snag a little nap between the spice bread inhalation and my next adventure – heading to that crazy cathedral. Just check out how detailed this thing is! And that’s only a tiny bit of the main façade. The entire structure is enormous like you can’t believe. The mix of colored stones makes it look even more insanely over-to-top complicated.
Once you get inside, the aesthetics are a little more subdued. That said, there are still some incredibly dazzling stained-glass windows and then this ginormous pipe organ. Can you imagine listening to someone play that way back in the day? All the crazy town-folk would stop their kugelhopf making, blacksmithery, and sausage-stuffing and would crowd into the ominous cathedral and listen to this puppy. That’d be an experience.
Post-cathedral, I was again overtaken by an urge for pastries. So I strolled way out to Ziegler on the Avenue Forêt Noire and purchased the below. One was a raspberry/mascarpone/macaron treat (it was ok – no Marie-Antoinette/Ispahan or anything) and the other one, which looked either like a brown pickle or a glazed ****, was a actually a caramel éclair. I must say it was quite tasty, even if the caramel was a wee bit overcooked.
And, to finish out our adventure, I thought I’d take you by the village Alchemist’s shop. Not kidding. Click on the photo and you can zoom in to see that the building is clearly labeled as the home of “l’Alchimiste”. Unfortunately for me, I was carrying a scant 20 grams of lead on me at the time. But it only took him an hour or so to convert it into gold. Minus a small fee, I had enough left over to pay for both my hotel and the train ride home. Could I really ask for more?
So I’m going to give Strasbourg a big thumbs up. Home to wonderful pastries, an amazing cathedral, more bridges than you can shake a stick at, futuristic trams, swans and possibly even a troll, it’s totally worth the visit. I think my 3 day stay was the perfect amount of time to soak it in. Have you been there, lived there, or have I inspired you to pay a visit? Leave a comment below.
For as awesome as pastries and all-things-edible are, I always wanted to show you guys more about my travels. The problem was, with a blog called “Paris Patisseries”, it seemed a little odd to drag you along with me to London, Rome or Brussels. If only I could have had a site with a few blogs tucked inside it, then it could have worked. Well, guess what? Now I do. So welcome to “Out and About”!
Many of the entries in this section of the site are going to be from my romps around Paris: visits to Sacré Coeur, l’Arc de Triomphe, Notre Dame and the like. But it’s also going to be pretty heavy on my travels outside of the city, whether that’s my treks to Lyon and Nice or international adventures in Dublin, Berlin, Milan and more. After all, I can only stay locked inside an apartment with a camera and tons of the world’s finest pastries for so long. I need to stretch my legs a little.
Over the coming weeks, I’m going to trot out some of my adventures from this past summer. I think it’s pretty fitting, given that it’s freezing outside for most of you, and a 5 minute escape to Piazzale Michelangelo in Florence would kind of hit the spot. And, of course, I’ll weave in lots of Paris shots, too. And if you want to come have tea with me at Ladurée’s bar . . . we’ll also be doing that.
As always, make sure you follow me on Facebook, on Twitter, with email updates, or by RSS Feed. They’re the easiest ways to run away with me to Rome . . . or if you find yourself needing a stroll down the Champs-Élysées. And, really, who doesn’t?