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Report 2015: Alpine Adventures and Other Travels in the Rhone, Rhin and Rhön

By wendy lynn from California USA, Summer 2012

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Page 10 of 21: Annecy: Fete du Lac

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Fete du Lac

We start our last full day in Annecy by finally getting to the bottom of the European tooth fairy. Alex finally remembered to put his tooth under his pillow the night before. When he awoke, he found €4. Cool. The tooth fairy also operates in the EU and apparently uses local currency.

We start the day with another breakfast for two. And then Mom takes Julia shopping (finally!) while Dad takes the little ones back to the beach. Mom and Julia don't find much clothing but really enjoy the shoe stores. And it's nice to not have sales tax! Lots of nice, Italian shoes at good prices.

After a few hours of shopping, Julia and Wendy stop at a specialty food shop before returning home. It's a bit intimidating to mom, as she doesn't speak French, but we bravely take a number and hope it all works out. Julia does her best to help. We buy some pate and an octopus salad we'd eyed the day before. Mom wasn't sure what the price would be, or she would have bought more. Our bill was only €9, so there wasn't any unpleasant price shock.

We are excited because today is the day of the annual Fete du Lac -- a fireworks extravaganza that is supposedly the best in Europe. This is the whole reason we are in Annecy! In planning the trip, we'd been afraid the crowds would be horrible, but the day doesn't look any different than the others. We'd bought our tickets months ago, online, when they first became available because the good seats sell out in a matter of hours. We think we have great seats, but they should be for €50 a pop. We have five tickets in a desirable area.

After our morning excursions, everyone meets up again at the hotel and eats lunch in our cramped quarters. We rest and nap from 2-4. Very unusual for us! We take the opportunity to have our hotel call our next hotel to confirm our arrival the next day in Ribeauville. The Caveau l'ami Fritz is the only hotel we didn't hear from, although we have a confirmation. Luckily, they are expecting us.

After our brief rest, Joe forces us back outside. It's a bit too hot and muggy for Wendy's taste. Does that mean rain tonight? But what about the fete?? We enjoy a street mime and walk up the hill to the Saint Joseph cathedral. There is a crowd parked up on top of the hill in anticipation of the fete -- free, cheap seats. There's not much up there so we walk back down and wander about the town. For the first time, it's very crowded and we see some traffic. Still, nothing by American standards. We're still hot so we grab an ice cream.

At 7pm we wander down to our ticket entrance area. We observe that cars are still able to find parking spots. We guess most people must take the train in. We are just about to grab a drink on the lake shore from a fete tent when it suddenly shuts down. Apparently they empty the park, clear out all the people, and then, starting at 8pm, only let the ticket holders in.

Our tickets are Rouge Chaise, Entrance 6. Easy to find. So we walk down to Entrance 6 and wait with the rest of the Entrance 6 crowd. The skies are gray. We feel rain drops. Uh oh. No wonder it was muggy today. But we remain hopeful as we can still see blue through some of the clouds.

At 8pm we are let in to the Fete grounds. They are checking tickets and it looks like they might be patting down people too. We warn Alex to keep his Swiss army knife hidden in case they confiscate it, although that danger seems low.

We find our seats easily. They are great! Right in the front, center, directly in front of the lake. Plus, we have real seats with backs, not the bleachers, and we are in the last row of the front section, so that the kids can come and go without bothering people.

The show begins promptly at 9:45pm. And the skies are clear! It's great. The rain never materializes.

The show is amazing. Fountains, lights, music and fireworks over the lake. An atmospheric French narration. Margaret does an interpretative dance. Of course, once the show starts, two of the three kids need to use the potty at different times. We appear to be the only people leaving our seats and are stopped by attendants while Mom tries to let the attendant know, in non-existent French, that the kids have to find the Toillette.

Margaret eventually falls asleep toward the end of the show. The crowd leaves promptly once the show ends. It truly is a big crowd. Many people watch for free from areas outside the lake shore, in the surrounding park. We hold onto the kids tightly. This would not be the time to lose someone, and our recent experience with Margaret in Aosta still unsettles Wendy and Joe.

We walk home, happy and content. We have experienced something wonderful. But it feels time to leave Annecy and we are looking forward to Ribeauville and Alsace -- our first longer stay of the trip will be five nights. We fall asleep happy.

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