or how we started off our mini tour des lacs
So ever since I found out about Annecy last year (yes, only last year), I’ve been keen to go and see it for myself. I wanted to see this postcard perfect blue lake, white mountains and pretty village scene that people have been posting all over social media (I’m way into social media sometimes)
Initially hesitant, I finally convinced V to go (he’s already been there and I guess it’s not his favorite) by making all the travel plans and pretty much springing it on him.
Getting there from Belgium
I was toying with the idea of flying to Geneva (from Brussels) then just taking a train, but then all that seemed kinda expensive for a trip to another city in France.
Finally, V recommended that we take the train to Lyon (OuiGo ftw) from Lille and then just rent a car and drive there (it’s just an hour away). So much cheaper and it’s almost the same amount of travel time (if you include all the time you have to spend in the airport).
I’m still kinda new to this train + car or flight + car, but it seems to be the way to go to travel to these smaller cities.
Picking up the rental car in Lyon Airport
V rents a lot of cars for work so we were able to get a good deal with Sixt because of his loyalty card. Otherwise, I was looking at Europcar, and normally they also have the best deals (cheaper than Avis or Hertz) with unlimited mileage. Budget or Dollar are also good, if they’re available in that location.
*Side tip: If you’re driving far (we weren’t), it’s best to make sure about the mileage. Sometimes you only have 300km allowance for a cheap rental and if you drive more than that, you’re going to get hit with really expensive per km rate on top. It sound like common sense but I never used to rent cars so I didn’t know about this, and I’m kinda glad someone informed me on my first car rental.
Anyway, as we arrived in Lyon Saint Exupery station (aka Lyon Airport), we also rented the car from the Sixt location in Saint Exupery.
Lyon Airport is super nice btw.
To get to the car rental stations from the TGV station in Lyon airport, you have to actually cross the whole airport, then take a shuttle that will ferry you to the different car rental locations just a bit outside the terminals.
As it was a Friday, the line was super long at Sixt. Funnily (and unsurprisingly so European of them), having some sort of platinum status doesn’t get you any kind of VIP treatment. Lol.
Honestly, we ended up waiting SUCH A LONG TIME because they had to gas up the car and prepare it etc etc. It took an hour from the time we were at the counter by the time we left the rental place.
Dejeuner-tour in Aix les Bains
As it took us longer than expected to get the car, we decided to randomly stop off on the first big city that we kinda of know, which was Aix les Bains.
Aix les Bains, is around an hour’s drive away from Lyon airport. It’s one of those french towns that became famous with the well to do set at the end of 1800s (the Belle Époque) due to it’s spas (and casinos). There’s a bunch of these towns in Normandy as well as the town of well, Spa, in Belgium.
It’s located right beside a huge ass lake called Lac du Bourget.
We drove into Aix les Bains by the lake side road (D1201) by accident (we got off too early from the highway), and what a lucky mistake that was.
It was a beautiful sunny day and Lac du Bourget was just shining.
We spotted a sandwich shop and grabbed a couple of sandwiches and ate by the terrace. Sun is a rare sight in Belgium so we needed to take advantage. Beside the sandwich shop are some restaurants for more formal dining, but we didn’t want to take such a long stop to eat and preferred to spend the time walking by the lake side.
P.S. I can’t even find the name of this sandwich store in Google maps lol
After the sandwich, we took some time to explore the public beach just across the street. It wasn’t officially open yet but we found a way to cross 🙂
Europeans being europeans, there were several people actually sunbathing in swimsuits. I mean ok, it was a pleasant day but it was still winter and it was still actually cold (for this tropical girl anyway).
We decided not to explore the city center and headed on to Annecy!
Sixt Lyon Saint Exupery is located at Aéroport de Lyon-Saint Exupéry (LYS Rue d’Autriche Saint-Exupéry FR, 69125 Lyon, France
The free beaches of Aix les Bains are located in the area near the Restaurant La Plage (closed during winters).
Restaurant La Plage is found in 6 Avenue Daniel Rops, 73100 Aix-les-Bains, France