We took the train from Lyon Part Dieu to Annecy for a day trip. We left Part Dieu about 8am and arrived in Annecy around 10am. There was construction near the station, making getting our bearings upon leaving a little challenging, but we found our way to the TI, which is near the City side of the lake, inside what appears to be an enclosed shopping area (generally kitty corner to your left from the train station). That center also has free bathrooms.
We were directed by the TI to Roul’ma Poule to rent bikes (they also provided a lock and optional helmets at no additional cost) . There is a paved bike/pedestrian path from the city down the right (West) side of the lake, and it’s mostly flat with some gentle undulation. Near town it’s closer to the main road and traffic, but not far from town it stays close to the lake and diverges from the road, making it quieter. We found that you can’t really ride around the lake, as there is a section on the left (East) side where you need to travel by boat between a couple of towns, plus on that side the path stops not too far from town and you ride a bike lane on the edge of the road - much closer to traffic. For serious bikers I’m sure that’s not an issue, but for us, the boat schedule did not coincide with our trains, and we wanted a more relaxed ride. We did see numerous serious bikers, some in groups, during our ride.
We rented bikes for a half-day (which were very reasonably priced and included accessories) and road as far as Duingt, where we stopped and had a pastry at the local patisserie. We road back to Annecy and decided to return our bikes and get lunch. When we arrived back in Anncey the bike shop was closed for lunch (I believe from 12pm to 1:30pm). We elected to ride a bit farther around the top side of the lake toward the East, which it turns out was a mistake. The mistake was not the ride, which was nice. There is a large park and tree-lined path along the top of the lake. We rode that and then turned around to go back to the shop and return the bikes.
The mistake was our first encounter with the French lunch hour. While we were aware of this in advance, the area around the bike shop is close to the pier where the ferries arrive and depart, and where a river flows from the lake through town. It’s a fairly busy place, with lots of people. There are restaurants and shops which line the river near the lake. We returned our bikes about 1:45 and walked over to find a spot for lunch. We looked over a couple of the posted menus, then selected one, only to be told the kitchen was closed. This was repeated at several places, and even though it wasn’t yet 2pm, it was clear that lunch was no longer available. We ended up finding a small sandwich shop farther in town. It was a lesson that what we had heard about lunch (in particular) was true – you need to be seated before 1:30 or don’t plan on lunch. You will likely be turned away. Lesson learned.
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