Stage 20: Annecy to Semnoz
Every year in mid-July, the Noctibules festival takes to the streets of Annecy and raises the temperature of the city. The Noctibules is the name given to four nights of show, from July 17 to 20 in 2013, including street arts, air shows and fireworks, circus and brass bands. Some 30 companies are invited and the free shows are presented to the public of all ages in the streets of Annecy. The 2012 edition had seen the town welcome one of the greatest pyrotechnic show on earth, Groupe F, who illuminated the greatest building in the worlds and took part in countless opening ceremonies.
ANNECY AND CYCLING
Fifty years separated the last two visits of the Tour de France in Annecy, Rolf Graf’s victory in 1959 and the round-the-lake individual time-trial won by Alberto Contador in 2009. The peloton makes it back much more rapidly in the Venice of the Alps, four years after the last Tour visit. While the lake made famous by poet Lamartine was the highlight of the 2009 stage, the mountains over Annecy are now the stars of the show. While the Tour shunned Annecy for half-century, the town was a traditional start for the Criterium du Dauphine, which stopped in town 22 times with stage wins by Jean Robic, Bernard Hinault, Charly Mottet or Jean-Francois Bernard. The first stage held in Annecy in 1939 was won by Dutchman Albert Van Schendel. His brother Antoon had also won a stage in the previous edition. Annecy is also the birthplace of Jeannie Longo.
PLACES TO SEE
Overlooking the city, the castle of Annecy is the old residence lf the counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours, a branch of the House of Savoy. Built between the 12th and 16th centuries, the castle was burnt down several times and was abandoned in the 17th century before being turned into barracks until 1947. It was then bought by the municipality of Annecy in 1953 and restored with the help of the Historic Monuments Service. It now houses the Museum of modern and regional arts and a regional office of Alpine lakes.
Palais de l’Isle
The palace was built in the 12th century in the middle of the Canal du Thiou. Now a museum it had several functions in the course of history. The palace of the lords of Annecy in the 12th century, it became an administrative building when the Counts of Geneva settled in the city.It also served as monetary office and a prison.
St Francis de Sales church
Edified in 1614 and consecrated 40 years later, the church is definitely Baroque but with a strong Lombard inspiration. The remains of St Francis de Sales and Jane Frances de Chantal used to rest there before being transferred to the basilica. Turned into barracks by the Revolution, then into a manufacture, it was again open to cult in 1923.
St Maurice church
An old 15th century Dominican church, it is typical of the late Gothic style in Savoy. Chapels dedicated to the noble families of Annecy were built on each side of the nave. Turned into a grain barn and a stable after the Revolution it was returned to the church in 1804.
12-kms long and 800 metres to 3.2-km wide, the lake of Annecy lies at the bottom of an old glacier valley at 448 metres of altitude. Not extremely deep – 41.5 metres average depth -, it is fuelled by several streams while its waters are evacuated by the Thiou and the Vasse canal, themselves flowing into the Fier, a subsidiary of the Rhone. Le Pont des Amours (Bridge of Love) is the most famous site on the lake.