A medieval canal town built around a 14th-century château, Annecy is affectionately called the Venice of the Alps by locals. Located 40km south of Geneva, its rural surroundings include a pristine mountain lake that has attracted tourists and part-time residents since the 19th century. Lakeside chalets are the most sought-after homes in the area, with the priciest fetching up to €4,230 per square metre in the three months to the end of June.
In Annecy itself, median values during the same period averaged €3,610 per sq m, according to Notaires de France, the legal specialists. Like their lakeside counterparts, properties in town are ideally located for ski lovers, about an hour’s drive from many resorts, including La Clusaz and Chamonix, where properties are around 40 per cent more expensive. Indeed, in 2009 the town even made a (failed) bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
Foodies can tuck into the post-skiing fodder of cheese-based Haute-Savoie dishes: raclette, fondue and tartiflette. A less well-known regional dish is farcement (also known as farçon), from the nearby town of Passy. This “potato loaf” is made with prunes, raisins, cream and an outer coating of bacon. An unusual dish layered in a special pan before cooking, it is typically made at home, though some restaurants will have it on the menu.
If you are after something lighter, Les Rochers Blancs or La Ciboulette are local restaurants serving a selection of freshwater fish including lotte (lake monkfish) and fera, which is only found in Alpine waters. With the cheese course, try a good Mondeuse, a favourite red wine of the region, rich and with a hint of pepper.
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