Let’s start with the obvious. One can not go to the Alps, nor France even, without indulging in some of the local regional delicacies. Whether it be a marvelously crunchy, freshly baked walnut loaf with duck pate or a Tartiflette swimming in cheese and lardons, what you eat when on holiday is so inherently important to your vacation pleasure that the effect these calorie bombs may have on your waistline will be long forgotten at your baguette’s first cheesy dip.
Having spent many an evening researching the French town of Annecy before traveling from Paris for the long Easter weekend, I must say that I thought I was beyond prepared for the foodie adventures this small Alp town has to offer. But alas, TripAdvisor may have a plethora of reviews, but the sheer excitement at seeing the cheese, the wine, the fresh produce and everything in between is something no website could prepare me for.
We arrived on a Friday evening and stayed at Hotel des Marquisats, which is about a 20 minute stroll from downtown Annecy. With a balcony room overlooking the lake, we knew we were in for a weekend of supreme relaxation and sporadic gluttony as soon as we pulled up. Cue happy feelings.
The Rhône-Alpes region in France is famous for its cheesy delicacies, and although this wasn’t the prime reason we decided to spend our long weekend in Annecy, by the time we sat down to our first meal it was already painfully obvious that we would be rolling ourselves out of most of the establishments we were lucky to frequent.
1. Fondue. Any. Type.
It’s important to note that there are several varieties of fondue (with mushrooms, without, with three cheeses, with meat) the choice is endless. We decided to stick to the very traditional 3 cheese fondue, with an extra side of charcuterie for added protein. The fondue is made up of 3 local cheeses, cooked with a dry white wine to cut some of the fat. The result is a beautiful cheesy soup which requires you to dip French baguette directly into the warm medley with metal prongs. It’s a bit sadistic, and it’s amazing.
We enjoyed our 3 cheese fondue at La Bastille restaurant, which is situated right on the canal in Annecy’s old town. Although the place doesn’t get great reviews on Trip Advisor, we were pleasantly surprised at not only the quality of the food, but the prices and service were also top notch.
La Bastille Annecy: Try the Fondue Savoyarde aux 3 Fromages made up of a melted medley of Emmental, Comte, and and Beaufort cheese, served with crusty baguette and green salad. The baked Reblochon cheese (see #8) was also beautiful.
2. Bacon and cheese baguettes (yes, really)
Because not having time to sit down at a restaurant should not mean that you miss out on the award winning medley of cheese and bread (please see fondue above for more information). This bread is for the wild foodie who’s in a bit of a rush.
Across from L’Estaminet: Any of the many bakeries around Annecy, but there is one really cute bakery right across from L’Estaminet in old town and they also serve the most amazing walnut tarts with honey, and walnut bread which will still be fresh in the morning and has a beautifully imbalanced walnut to bread ratio. In favor of the nuts.
After moving to France last year I’ve heard many locals gush about the joy of the Tartiflette. In essence this is a baked dish made up of sliced potatoes, cream, lardons and onions topped with heart stopping amounts of cheese and baked in the oven. Traditionally served with a green salad and baguette to mop up the creamy love pools at the bottom of your plate.
Le Ramoneur Savoyard: Along with fondue and raclette, you can have this dish almost anywhere in Annecy. However, I had my Tartiflette at Le Ramoneur Savoyard, which is a super cute little restaurant a view streets away from the hustle and bustle of the canals. The service is friendly and warm, and the food is even more comforting.
This was the Tartiflette with Reblochon cheese and green salad, which came out to be 16€50 (which was around the standard price of a meal in town).
4. Mussels (because some people can’t live on cheese and cheese alone)
There comes a time in any cheese lover’s life when their palate needs a change. For my significant other this came on day two of our Annecy adventure, and so he ordered Spanish inspired mussels with chorizo, prawns and garlic. In his words it was a beautiful foodie dance of epic Spanish & French proportions.
L’Estaminet:This was right across from the bakery where you could buy Bacon and Cheese baguettes, and we had been eyeing this restaurant on the Saturday when the weather was amazing. We walked past it several times, but with each hour the place only seemed to get more busy, and our impatience pushed us to try another restaurant that day. However, on the Sunday the weather had turned, meaning L’Estaminet finally had a few available tables (outdoors, in the cold), so we merrily sat ourselves down to give the place a try.
The Moules Les Madrilènes were cooked with white wine, onions, shallots, garlic, chorizo, Spigol and prawns, and were served with beautifully cooked french fries, for around 17€00.
5. Raclette meets Tartiflette
If the old saying of you are what you eat were true then I’d expect many French people to walk around with heads shaped as Comte or Brie. This analysis leads me to conclude that the saying isn’t true, and so my cheese induced Annecy adventures continued with this mix of Tartiflette with spicy sausage and raclette melted cheese on top. Mon dieu 😄
L’Estaminet: As my boyfriend enjoyed his mussels and frites, I continued the epic culinary cheese adventure with this Tartiflette complete with sausage and raclette cheese melted on top. Served with fresh bread (which was much lighter and fluffier than the other baguettes we were served), this meal was extremely hearty, a bit spicy, and probably not the best base for walking around the city all day. But I did it, I survived, and although we ended up hanging out at a pub for a few hours after this meal, I put that down to the rain, not the creamy cheese gain.
After a three day tour of Annecy’s local delights we decided to take a break and head to a steakhouse. I ordered a beautiful, 200 gram Pepper Beef steak with a side of creamed spinach and a cheeky glass of wine (because France). My boyfriend had an order of ribs with barbecue sauce and was very pleased with his order. There was no cheese in sight.
Le Wyn: A steakhouse a bit outside of Annecy center, this restaurant reminded us of an American barbecue joint, complete with cow decorations and friendly, laid-back staff. The meat was cooked with respect and love, and the portions were perfect for an indulgent carnivorous midday excursion.
The 200 g Rumpsteak was served with homemade bearnaise sauce and salad for 18€00.
7. Fusion Cheese Sandwiches
Fancy some Tartiflette but don’t want to miss the last thirty minutes of the market? Have a Tartiflette sandwich! Craving Raclette but need to catch a bus? Have a Raclette sandwich!
(I am in no way endorsed nor connected to any Tartiflette nor Raclette sandwich establishments in Annecy – I am just truly very excited by this fusion sandwich invention).
Across from The Captain Pub: This sandwich place was right across from Annecy’s cutest pub (in my opinion) and it seemed very fitting to build up your appetite with a few pints of good ale in the rustic pub before heading across the street to indulge your senses in a raclette sandwich.
8. Baked Reblochon–cheese served with ham, potatoes & salad
This was the first meal we had in Annecy, and was basically baked Reblochon cheese served with all the mountainous staples you could dream of. Smoked ham, boiled potatoes, green salad, pickled onions and cornichons all paired with crusty baguette and washed down with a beautiful Cotes du Rhone was truly an epic way to lay the foundation for our Annecy culinary adventures.
Mountain food and mountain mood = Perfect attitude
La Bastille Annecy: Same place we had the fondue (see above), the Reblochon Pane et assortiment de Charcuterie came in at 19€90.
9. Savoy Burger with Reblochon cheese
I call this a Savoy Mountain Burger. Cause if you’re in the mood for a classic meal like a cheeseburger with fries then why not add some melted Reblochon cheese, caramelized onions, and sweet pickles on top of artisan Marmillon bread?
Le Ramoneur Savoyard: This was the same place I had the Tartiflette with Reblochon cheese and green salad, whilst my boyfriend had the Savoie Burger with Reblochon cheese and fries for 17€50.
Annecy is a beautiful place, and although we only had a few days there I am already planning a longer visit for next summer where we spend at least a week exploring the region and its delights in depth. The tiny cobbled streets lined up against turquoise canals and maroon and duck egg colored houses, all leaning up against the snowy mountain capped range make for a stunning setting for a weekend getaway.