Lake Annecy, with its turquoise waters, was the backdrop for our walk today. Annecy is reached in under 40 minutes from Geneva which makes it an ideal location for a short break.
Today we were heading for the mountains that dominate the Eastern side of lake Annecy. The principle tops are those of La Tournette (2351m) and Les Dents de Lanfon. Across the lake the limestone mountains of the Bauges spread out before us. The Bauges are not high, the highest summit being the Pointe d'Arcalod (2217m), but the tops are frequently guarded by steep and rocky slopes.
We reached the starting point for our walk after driving up past the Col de la Forclaz. On a sunny day a steady stream of paragliders take to the air from just above the col here. Leaving the car we walked up through the alpine pastures to reach the Chalet de l'Aulp. Today it was shut up as the cows have not yet come up to their summer pastures. Other walkers were heading for La Tournette which was still sporting large snow-fields on its steep flanks guarded by high limestone cliffs.
We followed a path, initially through woods and crossed a couple of gullies. Birds were singing in the trees and a squirrel hopped across the path in front of us. Soon we came out of the shade of the trees into green, alpine meadows and the Col des Nantets a good spot for a drink and a snack. From here we could see down towards the town of Thones in the Aravis the gateway to the villages of Le Grand Bornand and St Jean de Sixt.
Passing the chalet des Nantets the path zig-zagged up through sparse pines to reach rockier terrain. A short rocky passage, protected by a hand-line, brought us into a grassy hanging valley. Crocuses added a splash of colour against the still hay-coloured grass. A few old patches of snow lay in the hollows. We passed by the Chalets de l'Aulp Rian, deserted for now but soon to be a farmer's home for the long days of summer whilst watching over herds of cows.
A signpost indicated the Col des Fretes below the imposing Dents des Lanfons however we continued climbing a shallow re-entrant. At the top limestone outcrops, stunted pine trees and a 360 degree view; time for our picnic. The backdrop of Lac d'Annecy, the mountains of the Aravis and beyond the snow and ice-covered mass of Mont Blanc and its satellite peaks.