France is the world’s most popular tourist destination - what’s not to like? With over 7,000 km of coastline, western Europe's highest mountain and one of the world’s favourite cuisines, it’s not surprising. Add to that, ski resorts, rivers, lakes, forests, festivals and some of the world’s most distinguished vineyards, not to mention, a sexy language, over 80 million of us beat a path there every year - but don’t worry about overcrowding, there’s plenty of space!
So you fancy a trip, but not sure where to start? Since studying French in Annecy (http://www.ifalpes.com/en/french-language-courses-france
) as a student I have returned many times to the Haute-Savoie region, on the edge of the western Alps. As it borders Italy and Switzerland the cultures overlap so it’s like a three in one destination. Surrounded by mountains, stunning countryside and with its sparkling blue jewel, lake Annecy, there is so much to do and experience.
Here are some of this summer’s exciting events in the region: Chamonix - Climbing World Championships - 12th - 13th July 2014
If you’ve a head for heights and the agility of a mountain goat, head for Chamonix to take part in the world’s foremost speed
climbing event. If participation isn’t on your agenda you can be like me and sit back and watch in amazement as these top climbers take on impossible looking artificial climbing walls. Blink and you’ll miss them. http://www.chamonet.com/events/calendar/world-climbing-championships-chamonix.html Bastille Day - July 14th - La Fête Nationale
All over France people commemorate the beginning of the French Revolution
with the Storming of the Bastille
on the 14 July, 1789. From military parades and air shows to fireworks, feasts, and fêtes the population celebrates their allegiance to the principles of Liberté, Egalité, et Fraternité. In Annecy there are street events, a dazzling Costume Ball and, of course, fireworks. The Lake Festival - Saturday 2nd August
Don’t miss the biggest firework display in Europe! The Bay of Albigny on lake Annecy lights up with a 70 minute show of pyrotechnic wizardry. The inspiration for this extravaganza is the Venetian style parties favoured by Napoleon III in the 1860’s. The display is synchronised to music enhanced by coloured lights, fire and dancing water jets. A truly brilliant visual extravaganza. Cosmo Jazz Festival - 26th July - 3rd August 2014
In the shadow of Mont Blanc, the French-Armenian jazz musician, André Manoukian,
and others organisers host the Cosmo Jazz festival based in Chamonix. Even better is that you can enjoy
these high octane, high-altitude concerts for free in imaginative venues surrounded by the breathtaking landscape. Check out the website for this year’s programme and a photo gallery. http://www.cosmojazzfestival.com/?lang=en& Mountain Guide Festival, Chamonix - Thursday 12th - 15th August 2014
Before the advent of GPS and mobile phones a mountain guide would make the difference between life and death in inaccessible mountain regions; even today their expert local knowledge is in demand and highly valued. This festival celebrates the bravery and skill of these intrepid people. So there are always guides on hand the different regions have a separate festival. The tools of their trade are blessed and local food, wine and traditional dancing makes for a lively day out. Fireworks too!
• 12/08/2014 - Le Lavacher - Bread Baking Day
• 13/08/2014- Les Houches - Guides Festival
• 14/08/2014- Argentiére - Guides Festival
• 15/08/2014 - Chamonix - Traditional Guides's Parade http://www.ultratrailmb.com/page/1/The_event.htmlhttp://www.chamonix.net/english/events/mountain-guides-festival-chamonix/2169 Ultra-Trail Mont Blanc Ultramarathon, Chamonix - August 25th - 31st 2014
Not for the faint hearted, a series of races, including the Courmayeur - Champex - Chamonix (CCC) high altitude ultramarathon, go through challenging terrain and the route rises to over 2,500m. However, ordinary mortals can watch the start of the CCC in the centre of Courmayeur, on the Place Brocherel, on Friday at 9 am or the finish in Chamonix some 168 km and 20 or more hours later.
All this takes place in just one small corner of France so there’s plenty more to see next year - only dilemma is - where next?
photo credit: Matthieu LIENART
photo credit: laurent.bardin
photo credit: Surat Lozowick
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