It’s an established fact that we at House of Coco have a wanderlust that compares to no others. Whether it’s relaxing beside the shores of a secluded island or embarking on an expedition high in the mountains, we’re up for it all. We sent our lifestyle writer, Leah Wilson on an adventure to ‘The Pearl of the Alps’, along with the assistance of Lake Annecy Ski Resorts.
After gliding into the city of Geneva, a short taxi journey saw me to my first slice of serenity of my stay in Annecy. Feeling as though I had been thrown into a fairy tale, I approached the Imperial Palace having to collect my jaw from the ground. I was astounded by the luxury of the building. Hosting guests such as Winston Churchill and members of the royal family, this resort is nothing short of spectacular.
Hotel Sales Representative, Aurélie Monet, guided me on a grand tour of the four star hotel, allowing me to explore the newly renovated delights, such as the Crystal Spa, Executive suites (fitted with private terraces!!), Casino, all three of their gourmet restaurants and not forgetting, their amazing balcony view across the purest lake in Europe, the gorgeous Lake Annecy, the Old City and the Alps. Key word of the day, ‘WOW!’
Continuing the theme of amazement, I headed out into the city of Annecy for an afternoon indulging in the sumptuous amounts of culture and history that this picturesque destination has to offer. Local historian, Bianca, took me on an epic adventure filled with stories and tales of how the location had developed over the centuries. She showed me everything, from the Château d’Annecy and it’s medieval heights, to the Palais de l’Isle and it’s beautiful architecture, to the local houses bursting with colour and beauty, to the Notre-Dame de Liesse with its grand décor and renovation. With a city so beautiful and interesting, it is a wonder how the locals get anything done!
By the time I had discovered what the city of Annecy had to offer, I headed back to the Imperial Palace for a meal fit for royalty. Settling down in their fine dining restaurant, La Voile, I was comforted by the relaxing melody of jazz music and the sight of the sun setting behind the mountains. The flavours of locally sourced delights, such as caviar and trout from the lake, Reblochon cheese fresh from the dairy and wild mushrooms found in the forests of the mountains, danced upon my taste buds throughout the evening. Retiring to my room, I was full, happy and ready for another day full of peace and amazement.
If there is one thing we at House of Coco are experts in, its coffee. We love a freshly brewed cup to start the day, so I was delighted when PR representative, Anaïs Alaurent, invited me to the new, hip and cool coffee shop, Brumes. Hidden behind the lively streets of Annecy, this little gem offers a secluded spot to indulge in their scientifically engineered coffee. Julien Latil, owner of Brumes, is a true coffee enthusiast, an expert in the art of brewing. Offering a wide range of coffee, juices, smoothies, Brumes is the perfect place to sit, experience the ambience, read a book and watch the world pass by.
After my morning caffeine hit, I was whisked off on La Belle Etoile (The beautiful Star), an open roof cruise boat, touring the lake and the regions around it. A fascinating place, the lake is surrounded by picturesque villages, magnificent buildings and communal beaches, bursting with life throughout the summer.
With two days packed full of adventure and excitement, a trip to the Imperial Palace’s Crystal Spa was just what I needed to wind back down. Fitted with pool, sauna, steam room and luxury shower experience, the Crystal Spa was the perfect place to spend the afternoon. Complete with beauty treatments and rituals, I left feeling relaxed, regenerated and utterly pampered.
Next stop; a change of resort. A short journey into the Aravis mountain chain, Hotel de la Croix-Fry sits on the edge of the Manigod Ski Resort, overseeing its magnificent views, gorgeous architecture and beautiful wildlife. Sitting on the balcony, peering out into the mountains with nothing but the soundtrack of the bells clanging from around the local cow’s necks, I believed I was in a fairy tale. Home to the Geulpa family, the resort brings a sense of homeliness to every aspect of yours stay. From Eric’s home cooked, fresh French cuisine, to Isabelle’s amazing hospitality and conversation, I was constantly filled with a feeling of welcome and happiness.
The resort of Manigod is renowned for its skiing culture, with slopes spreading across 130 km, connecting to La Clusaz and offering a wide range of slopes differentiated for all ages. The winter season buzzes with activity and life and provides the perfect balance of both adventure and relaxation to a winter break.
For my final trip here in my new haven, we headed up to the heights of the Aravis mountains for a taster of just what the Alps had to offer. Trekking 1600m high, through forest and field, truly at one with nature, Stéphanie Pollet, Lake Annecy Ski International Tourism and Promotions Officer, and I were led by our tour guide Astrid for a four hour journey into the wilderness. Throughout the hike, several opportunities to eat the fresh produce of the mountain, such as berries, leaves and various flowers, made themselves apparent. We took every one of them. The bittersweet taste of fresh blueberries kept me wanting more and more and more. Samples of home brewed alcohol, made with the spikes of the pine trees kept us motivated to reach our peak and ready for our descent back down to reality.
So, if you’re looking for that perfect break, whether it be a weekend to abandon that heavy schedule and hectic lifestyle, or to learn a lifetime skill of skiing, Lake Annecy truly does suit all. There are not many places in this world which make me forget the comfort of my own bed and the familiarity of home, but immersing myself here in the rich culture, amazing food and wonderful adventures brought a sense of new being., of true wanderlust. Oh to be back there…and without the promise of a return ticket.