Four Blue Badge Tourist Guides, who regularly guide visitors around Cheltenham and the Cotswolds, were recently hosted by the Annecy Tourist guides. Jane Handoll, Mary Moxham, Kay Thorpe and Mary Badger were met by the President of the Annecy Tourist Guides Association, Anne Pellas and other members, who accompanied them on a full programme of visits and excursions, exploring the history and culture of Annecy and its environs in Haut-Savoie. A reception at the Town Hall included a meeting with the deputy mayor Valerie Gonzo-Massol and colleague Laurent Terrier.
The focus of discussion was the possibility of collaboration around the events of Heritage Open Days in early September. This festival is European wide, and it was suggested that Cheltenham’s festival could include exhibitions about the history and culture of Annecy, whilst a reciprocal exhibition would be mounted in Annecy focusing on Cheltenham.
The guides also visited the restored Old Prison in the very centre of Annecy, and enjoyed a cruise on the lake, a guided walking tour of Annecy Old Town, a dinner offering traditional food of the region in a mountain restaurant, a visit to a cheese making farm at Les Aillons, a visit to the restored monastery at Chartreuse d’Aillons which included a fascinating guided tour, a lunch in a country restaurant, again offering traditional local produce, a short hike on the plateau of le Semnoz to enjoy the panoramic views, a visit to the Convent Basilica of the Visitation to view extraordinary stained glass windows. The day concluded with a very sociable fondue evening at the home of Odile Dauchez, one of the guides, where we were able to enjoy a slide show presentation of the groups’ visit to Cheltenham last October 2017.
On our final morning, our host Anne Pellas took us back to the Old Prison, to view an exhibition on architecture and urbanism next to water. This gave us the opportunity to learn how the town has developed over the centuries, but also to focus on 20th and 21st century urban development of the town of Annecy and its environment. The long drought of recent months is clearly a source of concern for urban planners.
Finally, a small group of guides came to the station to bid us farewell, after our action packed and thoroughly enjoyable stay in beautiful Annecy.