June 25, 2017

Lac d'Annecy and Why I Will Always Go Back

My French friends had been bothering me for several years, "You must come to Annecy."

To me, a random French lake town near Switzerland sounded...boring and expensive.

My French teammates continued to insist, "It's super beautiful, the volleyball tournament is outside right on the edge of the lake."

Is it bad if I admit that I really did not believe them? I mean, so many times Europeans have told me some place is "only a five minute walk away" and I've ended up pounding pavement for over ten minutes. I learned quickly to take descriptions of times and places with a grain of salt.

In addition, there was a solid chunk of years when I really did not pursue time outside. I wanted to avoid the impending sunburn, eye-squinting, flies, mosquitoes, itchy grass, unpredictable weather, and so forth. And I was not very fond of playing volleyball outside either, what with wind and sunshine in my eyes, tripping over myself on lawn divots or moving molasses-speed in sand.

The final reason I did not make time for the annual Tournoi d'Annecy until 2017 was because my friends always asked me about it in early spring. The tournament is always the first weekend of Pentecost, usually sometime between late May and early June. By January - at the absolute latest - I always have my spring and summer life plans laid out. I was normally traveling around the USA or Portugal during this time.

Last spring, when my French friends asked me again if I could come to Annecy, I was already booked. But I finally made the cognizant effort and marked it on my calendar for 2017. Living in Germany now means I don't get to see as much of France anymore, anyway, so going to the tournament was a means to an end of hanging out with my friends and enjoying the French life for a weekend.

Oh. La. La.

Annecy the town is gorgeous.

The tournament is actually tons of fun.

The volleyball courts are literally on the edge of the lake.

You play volleyball with the Alps rising up behind the lake.

The tournament t-shirts are awesome.

I ran into so many of my old friends and teammates, it was wild.

The food is good. Everywhere.

There are boats to rent on the lake.

There are paddle boats to rent on the lake.

There are paddle boats with slides to rent on the lake.

Honestly, Annecy is now on my short list of places I would love to live.

The tournament itself is hugely popular. Over 250 women's teams and 450 men's teams participated this year! It's a grass tournament played with three against three. Which, yes, means that over 750 women and 1,350 men came to the same place to play volleyball together. There are some recreation-level teams, but there were plenty of first and second division players there who came to compete against each other and win the tournament.

On Sunday, you play in the morning and early afternoon, then have the rest of the evening to enjoy Annecy's many restaurants and shops. Monday is the longer day, with one more round of pool play, then playoffs. The tournament has sponsors handing out free stuff, a full-fledged snack bar, and everyone is so happy to be there.

Keep in mind, I'm sharing how much I adored this experience...and it was raining 75% of the time. If you've read any significant amount of my blog posts, you'll know I'm a Californian weather wimp through and through. But not even rain could drown out the greatness of this experience and I cannot wait to return and have sunshine define the weekend instead!

A special thanks to Adeline and Sana, my teammates from team "Have Fun" for the weekend, for an unforgettable first tournament together. And another shout-out to my American internet-friend-turned-real-life-buddy, Jackie (#Boone2020), for spontaneously adding Annecy to her Europe itinerary and allowing me to share my French volleyball world with her. The three of these gals made my time in Annecy even more awesome, and I am really looking forward to May 20-21, 2018, and bringing my German friends to get in on the action!