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From Bourg en Bresse to Annecy, Talloires, or .. Chambéry?

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Thanks to to the helpful recs we received in the thread re: Valence to Laguiole, I'm now wondering if I could reach out for some additional advice just north east of Valence:

Driving from Bourg en Bresse (which I also found very few recs on this board for - reports recommend Mâcon and Cluny instead?), we're looking to bunk down in Annecy. As everyone agrees, it's a very beautiful spot. There are a few nice restaurants to choose from in the area, namely: Clos des Sens, Ciboulette, and across the lake: Pere Bise, Marc Veyrat, etc

As we're going in early summer, I'm guessing the town will likely be super busy (mobbed?), with crowds and conga lines galore. Is this true, or am I totally off? Is visiting Annecy in July the French equivalent of visiting Lake Como in the summer? (for reference, our past visits incl Sarlat & Carcassonne.. both lovely, but are mobbed and insanely touristy - not what we're looking for)

At the moment, I'm looking at Chambéry - which looks like a pleasant town, with minimal crowds. However, there seems to be a dearth of notable restaurants in Chambéry .. and I couldn't find any mention of the town on this board. Has anyone been?

What lovely towns would you recommend to eat/stay outside Annecy (en route to Grenoble, as that's our next stop) with noteworthy restaurants? Side note: Megeve would have been another option, but Flocons de Sel is closed on the days we're there (sad face). Or - is Annecy relatively mob free in June/July - in which case, we'll just stick with it?

(if pointers veer off the topic of food, please feel free to drop a line via email)

ETA: For reference, we're seasoned travelers to Italy, and know which areas to avoid during peak season (eg Como, Cinque Terre, Amalfi etc - visited on early trips, and not what we're looking for these days anyways). It's not our first time to France, but admittedly we're new to some regions, and have not traveled to France during this time period.

Thanks again!

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  1. On the Lake Annecy not far from Talloires is one of my fave ferme-auberges (farm-inns). The Ferme de la Charbonnière near Menthon Saint Bernard on the Route de Thones does a fierce tartiflette with its own - well, its own cow, - and its own reblochon cheese. That tartiflette is not for the faint-hearted.
    If you reserve your tartiflette ahead of time, when you arrive you see the reblochon that has been drip drip dripping for hours on the cold cuts and onion, all produced by the farm.
    The ferme-auberge is one of my fave restaurants on the lake. Very no-nonsense. Not the politest people. They are just … no-nonsense.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Parigi

      Very high praise for this ferme auberge! Thanks for sharing this recommendation. Love your description of the cheese drip-drip-dripping!

    2. I can't speak to the summer crowds around Lake Annecy (because I have always arrived in the autumn), but in France generally July is easier than August. Maybe someone else can fill in that blank.

      However, this is such an idyllic spot that nothing else in the area comes close.
      Talloires is the classiest village on the lake.
      So brave the traffic and go.
      I've been there three times time (with both my wives!). It's one of those places you just can't visit too many times.

      And when you get there, hop on a pedalo and spend a coupole of hours on the lake. It's soooooooooh beautiful. (Drool) And I write that from the beautiful place where I live.

      2 Replies
      1. re: collioure

        Talloires is indeed on our itinerary. Sounds like a beautiful place indeed. Btw, any thoughts on Yvoire?

        1. re: DistendedBelly

          Yvoire is very pretty and quite overrun.
          The neighboring small village Nernier is just as charming, and much less hectic. The café-restaurant nearest the embacadère serves river-fresh perch most reasonably priced.
          Vevey across the lake is also lowkey and lovely, also with relaxed riverfront restaurants serving fresh perch. No wonder Charlie Chaplin chosen Vevey for his retirement.
          The ferme-auberg that I mentioned upthread is in Menthon St Bernard, neighboring village of Talloires.

      2. About 6 years ago we stayed (& dined) at the Clos des Sens in Annecy-le-Vieux and loved both our room & our dinner. It was July & Annecy was indeed a bit crowded*, but once we left the beautiful lake area, found it to be quite peaceful....walking back to the charming 10-room hotel in the old part of town. So even if you were to become overwhelmed by the tourists (& I don't remember it being that bad), you'd be able to relax away from the hubbub after a day of sightseeing, have a wonderful dinner & stroll back to your room.
        ETA: * We arrived in Annecy in the middle of some 'fête', which was why it was particularly crowded.

        1 Reply
        1. re: boredough

          Thanks for this report - I'm glad to hear that the town relaxes in the evening. Clos de Sens is on the shortlist!

        2. For 40 years we've been going in and around Annecy and it is magical.
          Two places I really like are:
          The Ferme de Lormay in the ski resort Le Grand Bernand, http://www.qype.fr/place/419116-ferme... and
          The Super Panorama - I know it sounds corny,
          and don't let people say that since Pere Bise died, the place is dead, it too is magical. Think Claire's Knee in in Summer on that lawn - ahhhh.

          1 Reply
          1. re: John Talbott

            Great to know that the standard continues even after Pere Bise's passing.

            Ferme Lormay looks amazing! If not this time, definitely on next trip.

          2. Tourism in Europe is very conditioned by school holidays. In France, the summer hols -- and the first wave of French visitors to Annecy-- begins on 7 July. Annecy also gets its fair share of daytrippers and weekenders from Italy, Switzerland and Germany... the long summer breaks for schools in all 3 begin a few weeks earlier than the French ones.

            If your stay in Annecy is before 7 July I suspect there won't be swarms of tourists except at weekends.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Parnassien

              Thanks for this, Parnassien!This is super helpful to know. We're not usually summer travelers (no kiddies on the distendedbelly front.. well maybe food babies).. but Annecy is rainy in the fall, so we thought June/July would be a better time. We're there on a weekday, so hopefully the town won't be mobbed.

            2. Thanks to all the suggestions in this thread! Looks like Annecy is high up on everyone's list, crowds or not.

              1. I take a week to ten days to spend at a house on the sweet spot on the Bay of Talloires and I have spent many other days and weeks over the decades. My advice is to have a meal at Pere Bise and order two great dishes from the restaurant's three-star days: the gratin of crayfish (pattes rouges) and poulet de Bresse in a tarragon sauce. It's the most beautiful restaurant setting in France. To have coffee on the terrace beside the lake is idyllic. Otherwise think twice if the sound of these dishes don't resonate. Sophie Bise is not a great cook if left to her own devices/imagination. But she cooks her grandmother Margurite's dishes exactly as they were.

                There are no good restaurants in Annecy. Close des Sens I boycott because they told me they prepare dishes sous vide. I don't know about the Coat guy's cooking in Marc Veyrat's house in Veyrier.

                If you can find a way to spend a night at Flocons de Sel, you'll have a very dinner and one of the great breakfasts in the world.

                1. It's Conte, not Coat, the two-star in Veyrier. One of the best cheese fondues I have had is at the Chalet La Pricaz in Montmin which overlooks the lake and is about a ten-minute drive from Talloires. The tartifflete there is a killer; even too rich for me. The view of the lake from above is worth the visit as well.