I recently went to Annecy in the Haute Savoie region. It’s a stunningly beautiful town with winding cobbled streets, canals and of course the famous Lac Annecy.
That lake is a mesmerising sight let me tell you. The water is turquoise, a bright aquamarine so clear you can see to the bottom in the shallow parts. Around the lake are restaurants and hotels including the magnificent Abbaye de Talloires, a hotel with truly stupendous views.
The Abbey de Talloires
An abbey was built in Talloires hundreds of years ago, but during the French Revolution it was pretty much destroyed. Legend has it that the huge abbey bells still lay at the bottom of the lake. The Abbaye de Talloires hotel is a converted monastery, part of the old Abbey complex. It’s stylish, luxurious and chic but retaining original features that give it a wonderful authenticity. With a private pontoon for swimming in the lake, top sommelier with a fabulous wine cellar and a feted chef – well, you can’t blame me for spending a night here can you. After all, the great artist Cezanne and the great writer Mark Twain loved it here too!
I arrived and was admiring the beautiful wooden mezzanine floor and the sculptures on the walls and I had just about managed to tear myself away from the balcony overlooking the lake. The manageress asked me if I’d like to see one of the special rooms in the hotel. “Of course” I said.
So she took me to a room about five doors from mine.
“It hasn’t been redecorated since 1681” she told me as she pushed open the door “it used to be the old priest’s room, where he would pray alone”.
She closed the door behind us and I found myself standing in a stunning time warp of a room and a classified monument in its own right. The walls are lined with frescoes of the Apostles, the ceiling is covered with original paintings of angels and cherubs. It had an almost tangible air of tranquillity.
Sarah, the hotel manager said “We do rent the room out, but not to women on their own”.
“Why not” I asked, thinking I’m on my own and I’d love this. Comfy looking beds (top photo), and an amazing feeling of peacefulness that you get from a really ancient room.
“Well, this room has a special atmosphere, quiet and peaceful – but not for everyone” mused Sarah.
And, at that very moment, I kid you not, the ancient window shutters that were hanging a little lopsidedly either side of the window overlooking the lake, swung shut with a loud bang. I nearly jumped out of my skin.
“Just the wind” said Sarah airily. “Do you like the Apostles pictures?”
“They’re absolutely beautiful” I said “though it’s strange how they are all looking up, down or sideways, all except this one who seems to be looking straight at me”. At that, the door to the room blew wide open just as I finished speaking. We both looked up. There was no one there! I have to admit the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I took a photo of the Apolstle fresco but when I got home, there was nothing recorded on my camera.
“It’s just the wind” said Sarah as the shutters rattled and the door swayed a little as we left the room.
Yes this room really does have an atmosphere but it feels calm and peaceful and welcoming – and I slept like a baby that night in my room five doors down!