June 29, 2011

Lac d'Annecy

Lake Annecy on a chilly morning in early June. You can't imagine it today, but in the 1950s, the lake was a polluted mess, essentially a large sewer. Fortunately, everyone cleaned up their act and today, only natural water goes into the lake.

The sun was only visible when reflected on the lake's surface.

The Château d'Annecy (Annecy Castle), built between the 13th and 16th centuries, is visible in the background.

Dinner at a restaurant on a ship afforded a different view of the lake, replete with a rainbow.

This is at around 9pm. Swimming is restricted to certain areas in certain months in the summer, but I saw a couple of teenagers jump in and swim straight across.

A charming little merry-go-round beside the canal leading from the lake. Beyond is a large field for picnics and nappers.

Real horse hair for the horse's tail! Have I been away from merry-go-rounds too long, or is this standard practice?

The boat reads, "Annecy".

Famous views of Annecy decorate the upper part of the merry-go-round.

June 27, 2011

To Catch a Fish

In Annecy, France. This is the main canal that leads from Lake Annecy. 

Despite all the canals running through the town (and the amazingly clear water), it was hard to catch sight of any fish. Where were they?

They were all under the bridge, it turned out. Strangely enough, they didn't seem to be moving from that spot. 

A closeup of the fish. (And proof of the enviably clean water.)

Which made them all the more vulnerable to a bird attack. Here, you can only see the wings and the tail.

Nonchalantly swimming away after thirds.

Palais de l'Isle

The iconic Palais de l'Isle in Annecy, France. One look at the bars on the windows and you know immediately that it was once a prison. Today, it is a museum of local history. 

The swan swimming nearby is just too perfect.

Built in the 12th century, the building wasn't actually used  as a prison until the end of the 18th century, and even then, that function ceased in 1864.

The site was certified as a historical monument in 1900.

June 25, 2011

For Your Sweet Tooth

Photos taken in Annecy, France. While sweets are massively popular in Japan, cupcakes are surprisingly under-represented in shops. When will a someone be savvy enough to capitalize on this?

 But at 2.50 euros, slightly pricey.

Something new: from what I've seen, ice cream shops in Annecy (and France in general?) advertise their flavors with real fruit. These fruits are probably quite costly, considering that they are only for decoration.
I don't know what Smurfs taste like, though.
Cute little marzipan creatures at a cooking supplies shop.

Chocolate wrenches for your chocolate tool box, as expensive as the real thing.

Mama and Baby Ducks, Reunited

In Annecy, France. A family of ducks (mama and seven babies) could be seen all over town, from the big lake to the canals to the rivers. Now, I'm sure these types of ducks can be seen almost everywhere in the world, but the sight of the babies seemed to turn a surprising number of people into mush.

So imagine the consternation when the little ducks were separated from their mother. Perhaps they slid down this slight fall of water when the mother was not looking, but they were unable to swim back up. For a while, the mother was swimming in another canal running parallel to them, quacking away as if that would magically summon them back to her.

Many a concerned passerby was leaning over the canal railing, murmuring "Ils ont perdus."("They are lost.") Once the mother made the jump over to their side, though, they were up and swimming away.

One errant duck is out of the frame.

I followed them as they made their way down the canal, and to the river away from the Old Town. They took a much-needed breather on the small rock to the left.

After that, I left them in peace.

June 21, 2011

A Coot Family

Not a five-minute walk away from the busy Old Town in Annecy, France, the slightly litter-strewn river water gives way to a startlingly clear blue.

(Click to enlarge.)

It's certainly an environment that a bird could comfortably build a nest in, but I was still surprised to see this black-feathered, white-beaked coot sitting in a nest in such plain view. Clearly, they fear neither humans nor other birds.

Turned out, they were a family. According to sources of dubious legitimacy, the female coot is slightly smaller than the male, but in this case the one feeding the baby is significantly larger than its partner.

Requesting Transmission from Up There

A rather severe and foreboding-looking church near the Imperial Palace in Annecy, France.

The atmosphere of spirituality is weakened somewhat by the sight of the antennae on top of the cross. 

A Glimpse of MIFA

L'Imperial Palace, where MIFA (International Animation Film Market), the market held in conjunction with Annecy International Film Festival, was held. It's the classiest building ever until you read the sign that says, "casino". (It's also a hotel/conference hall.)

A nice view of the Alps.

The free bus that took visitors back and forth between the main film festival and the Imperial. Waking takes about 20 minutes, but the sights are so beautiful it's worth it.

The theater where the screenings were held. Many were sold out, and the rest had a fair number of people lining up for the remaining tickets.

Immediately across the street, an outdoor screen that played films such as Pixar's Up! for a public audience. The park is adjacent to Lac d'Annecy. There was a public concert one night with a DJ, which had the town teeming with young would-be ravers.
One of the displays at the market, a claymation setting of Sherlock Holmes interpreted semi-Blaxploitation style, with Morgan Freeman as Holmes and Martin Lawrence as Watson. Where is this version of the film? Can we get Snoop Dogg to do a cameo?

Note the African masks on the wall. There was even a portrait of Nelson Mandela in a white wig (sadly not captured here.)

The team from Finland, hanging Moomin figures outside. (Don't ask me why.)

At the end of the market, a drunken Finnish guy gave me a vintage Finnish comic (from 1977!), and this bloody keychain. It ranks as the best gift I've received from a perfect stranger. Now if only I could read Finnish...

A seal character on display at the market. It may have had homicidal tendencies.

June 19, 2011

People-watching in Annecy, France

Shots grabbed here and there in between participating in MIFA, the animation market held during the Annecy International Animation Film Festival in the French Alps. 

Near The Imperial, where MIFA was held, an old man and his dog. I was surprised by the number of small dogs I saw running around in Annecy. I somehow assumed that a more spacious country would have more larger dogs. (Directly based on the fact that most pet dogs in Japan are teeny-tiny.)

A morning stroll alongside Lac d'Annecy, just one beautiful aspect of an absolutely beautiful town.

I would have asked these men about their hats, but this photo was taken with a zoom lens and I couldn't quite catch up with them.

Old lady having coffee in a cafe.

Annecy has its share of people who become famous during the film festival -- as in, idiosyncratic figures that everyone you meet seems to have already met that wind up in the local paper.

I met this woman in a health store tucked inside a maze of shops in the Old Town. She came on a bike, her parrot (and bird shit towel) on her shoulder. She spoke fluent Japanese. The next day, I saw her photo in the paper in an article for the animation festival.

Quite overt.

A pack of youngsters armed with a fake police alarm walked around the park next to the lake, genially harassing people. Here they talk to a group of old people. The flesh-colored pillow this guy has on his back is a set of inflatable boobs.

A boy on a scooter, staring at the slurpie machine. I can just imagine his drooling face.