All About Annecy!
After spending seven hours in an airplane, it was a relief to land and meet up with the Lenoble family. Although we were a bit nervous about travelling without our parents and pretty jetlagged, we were excited to start our French adventure!
The family lives in a town called Annecy, Haute Savoie which is in the northeast part of France, close to the Swiss border. Haute Savoie is one of the 96 departments in mainland France. A department is the second level of the administrative division in the country, similar to our municipal government. Since Annecy is the biggest city in the department, it is the capital of Haute Savoie.
The Lenoble family is made up of Virginie, Jacques, Zoé, Juline, and Mina the dog.
Where they live is absolutely gorgeous! They are a two minute walk from Lake Annecy, which is one of most beautiful lakes I have ever seen. In fact, Lake Annecy is one of the cleanest lakes in Europe due to strict environmental regulations.
They are also a five minute bike ride from the old medieval town, Annecy-le-Vieux. We had a lot of fun biking through the old town at night, swimming in the lake, and having picnics near the water.
We also had to chance to learn about two nearby castles, the Château de Ruphy in Duingt and the Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard. The Château de Ruphy in Duingt is really interesting because although it is considered a historical monument, it is not open for visitors as there are people living there. This castle reminded me of the Carcassonne castle in France because of the tall towers and how easy they are to defend due to their locations.
The other castle, the Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, has a cool story associated with its name. It is said that St. Bernard of Menthon, the patron saint of skiers and and mountaineers, was born in this castle. This saint is known for building hospices and a monastery in the Alps to help travellers who were getting lost in the snow. The monks who lived in the monastery had big dogs with them to help them find these travellers, and these dogs later became known as St. Bernards. It is also said that this castle was the inspiration for the design of some of Disney’s princess castles.
This was my second time participating in an exchange. Back in 2016, I did a trip with my choir to Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories. It wasn’t really scary because I was with a large group of people I knew, everyone spoke English, and I was still in Canada. Going to France was a bit scary, but also exciting, because we were 7 000 km away from home and nobody spoke English. The town of Annecy was the perfect place to learn and practise our French.
We had such a great time exploring and discovering Annecy and getting a better understanding of the country. This exchange was a lot of fun and I am so grateful that we were able to spend our time in such a beautiful location with incredible people.