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An insider’s guide to Annecy and its mountain resorts

From the age of four, Louis Andrews grew up in the small Aravis ski resort of Manigod (part of the large La Clusaz ski area), before going to art school in Annecy and then moving to Paris. He is still a regular face in Annecy and the Alps, where his company OVO Network has over 350 hand-picked self-catered chalets and apartments. Here he gives his insights into his favourite places and activities of this beautiful Alpine region…

Eating out in Annecy

Recently Annecy has seen somewhat of an emergence of truly exceptional restaurants. So much so that it has become a real gastronomical hub. Whereas the restaurants used to predominantly serve traditional Savoyard food (L’Etage is an amazing place if this is what you’re looking for), the culinary experience has expanded to cover a much wider range of palettes. My two all time favourite restaurants here are Brasserie Brunet and Bloomer. I love them for the cuisine, the ambiance and just the general dining experience. Alternatively, if you’re looking for an amazing sandwich on the go, there’s no better place than Les Caprices d’Emilie which offers a choice of either Raclette, Diot or Tartiflette sandwiches that are out of this world.

Skiing on Étale, La Clusaz

Étale is my favourite place to ski, period. It’s less crowded than anywhere else I know and is effectively one very long piste. It is steep, and definitely not suitable for beginners. But if speed is your friend and you love going down hill at the absolute clappers there is no better place. You’ll also find some great restaurants once you get to the bottom – perfect for lunch or a drink on the slopes.

Summer Bars in Annecy

While there are hundreds of amazing bars in Annecy two of my favourites, which are only known by locals, are The Woodstock Garden and L’Oasis. The Woodstock is tucked away on Avenue de Loverchy, behind a youth hostel. It has a huge terraced area where you can get together with friends on a summer evening. Similarly, L’Oasis in Sevrier is too far out of town for people to simply stumble across, yet it is one of the best bars close to town. It is set right on the lake and the atmosphere is always relaxed, friendly and fun.

Annecy Theatre & Concerts

Although there aren’t many museums in Annecy, if you’re looking for culture then the National Theatre, Bonlieu, is set in the heart of Annecy. It presents a wide range of theatre, music and dance throughout the year. There’s also a local concert hall, Le Brise Glace, located close to the lake, almost behind the Marquisats beach. It’s a really fun place to go to to see live music in a fantastic atmosphere.

A boat trip on Lake Annecy

There’s nothing better to do on a hot summer day than to rent a boat and set off across Lake Annecy. Whether it be a pédalo or a small speed boat, there are various ways to get out on the water. If you’re feeling adventurous I love to head over to the Roc de Cher, a hidden rock formation on the eastern shore of the lake, which is hard to access and only known by locals. There, lots of people jump from the high cliffs into the lake – it is not for the faint of heart! Alternatively there are various tourist boats that can take you on a trip around the lake, with the chance to get on and off at pretty lakeside villages such as Talloires and Menthon Saint Bernard.

Walk Up Mont Veyrier

Mont Veyrier is emblematic of Lake Annecy and walking up it is something you really should do if you’re staying in the area. You can start the walk not far from the centre of Annecy, and after a couple of hours climbing through the forest you’ll have a fabulous view over not only the town below but the gorgeous blue lake that stretches across the landscape. It is truly mesmerising and incredibly picturesque.

Lo Garajo Concept Cafe, Manigod

Lo Garajo is an old garage that has been converted into a concept store/café in Manigod. The atmosphere is stylish and cosy. And the deco feels like you’re in a cool New York apartment rather than in the rural French Alps. In winter there’s a lovely wood burning stove to relax by. But when the sun comes out the terrace is the perfect place to take in the spectacular views out onto Manigod Valley. The coffee here is great, but there are also specialist beers, wines and cocktails, and they do delicious apero platters. Time it right and you can catch some of their events, which range from morning yoga to live music and film evenings. You can also enjoy plenty of retail therapy. And, if you need to work you’ll have coffee and views to inspire you.

Lake Montriond, near Morzine

Beautiful Lake Montriond is located not far from the popular mountain resort of Morzine. Yet the scenery feels out of this world. You can park your car to the West of the Lake and walk all the way around it, taking in the views. If you go in winter you feel like you’re at the heart of a winter wonderland. While in summer it’s big enough to either feel like you’re lost in the wild, or enjoy the swimming area or a kayak across the clear waters.

Après-Ski Pub Crawl in La Clusaz

La Clusaz is one of my favourite ski resorts. Partly it’s because I grew up skiing here, but also because it is so varied, with something for all abilities. What’s also great about La Clusaz is that it’s just the right size to be able to explore the whole town without walking huge distances. This makes it ideal for a quick après-ski pub crawl! One itinerary that I’ve tested is to go from La Grolle, walk up to the Salto Pub, then around to the Bali Bar before ending up at La Scierie. There are lots of other places to try – just don’t go too hard on the local génépi!

Explore Chamonix

Cable car stop Aiguilles du Midi, Chamonix

If you come to the Alps then try to fit in some time in Chamonix, famed around the world for its skiing, style and mountain activities. The one thing you have to do here is take the cable car up the Aiguille du Midi. You’ll head up to over 3,840 metres and will be standing in the heart of the Mont-Blanc Massif – it really is a breathtaking experience. But if you prefer something more relaxing, book into the QC Terme Spa for incredible views and a super cool spa experience. Or reserve a round of golf – the setting and the course are spectacular.

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