Cycling in the French Alps TIPS & ARTICLES

With narrow medieval alleys, 16th-century castles and the shimmering reflection of pastel-painted shopfronts in its canals, Annecy glows in its own splendour. But the true allure of the ‘Venice of the Alps’ is its diamond-cut lake and crown of snow-sieved alpine peaks. Rising above the lightly lapping shore are steep mountains with rugged roads to test the legs, though flatter alternatives cater for cyclists who prefer to admire their massifs from below.

Route one: Beside Lake Annecy
Route: Easy. Bike: road or hybrid. Distance: 20/30km. Hills: none.

This relaxed ride is ideal for beginners or families. Heading away from the lullabying sways of the boats moored at Annecy’s Quai de la Tournett, a piste cyclable (cycle track) winds along the lake’s west shore, past yacht clubs and people-peppered beaches, and onto a landscape of quiet parks, sleepy villages and fields of idly grazing cattle.

The route follows a former railway, so gradients are minor, but there are plenty of opportunities to divert from the path. Take the tunnel near the village of Duingt to discover the fairy-tale wisps of Château Ruphy. Some of the former train stations are now cafes, so refuel and turnaround at Coup de Pompe (10km out) or Loisirs du Bout du Lac (15km) for an easy tootle back to Annecy.

Make it easier
For a more moderate route, complete a low-level circuit of the lake. Follow the piste cyclable along the west shore from Annecy, before indulging in a mixture of main roads, cycle track and quiet streets along the east shore (with one hill at Talloires) until you’re back to where you started, a total of 40km.

Route two: Semnoz and Forclaz
Route: hard. Bike: road. Distance: 80km. Hills: two major climbs.

Grappling mountains that have defeated Tour de France riders, this circuit of Lake Annecy is for serious cyclists only. From Quai de la Tournett, take the D41 road to Semnoz, where the gradient immediately rears up, setting the thigh-burning tone for the next 17km.

It’s not the severity of the climb that gets you but its utter relentlessness: continuous bends weave through thick pine forest before breaking out into alpine meadows at the summit of Semnoz. Efforts are rewarded with spectacular views across neighbouring peaks and down to the distant glistening waters of Lake Annecy.

Descend around sweeping switchbacks to St Jorioz, before following the piste cyclable along the west shore of Lake Annecy to reach the D42 near Vesonne. Here you’ll meet the Col de la Forclaz, a demanding ascent with tight hairpin bends and some very steep sections that will have you straining on the pedals. Pause for a breather at the col and admire the paragliders launching from the sheer cliffs above. Then it’s a technical descent to the main road and onto Annecy for well-deserved celebratory ice cream.

Make it easier
Peak-bagging roadies can reduce their sweat by choosing either Semnoz or Forclaz and combining it with the easy lakeshore roads to make a bespoke Tour du Lac.

Bike rental
In Annecy, Roul’ ma Poul (annecy-location-velo.com) has a massive fleet of hybrids. For road bikes, visit nearby Sévrier where Cycles Toinet (cycles-annick-toinet.fr) and Sévrier Sports (location-velo-annecy.com) each have a small selection.

Top meals on wheels

unduhan-38It’s tradition in Lima to start the morning (or night) off with piping hot cups of herb-infused drinks that are boiled with grains like quinoa or boosted by maca, a revitalizing root from the high Andes of Peru. Find the carts set up at bustling intersections from the break of dawn until stock runs out, and back again when the sun sets. Don’t forget to ask for the yapa, the leftover pour that couldn’t fit in the first serving. Top spots include Grau at 28 de Julio in Barranco,  Brasil at Grau in Magdalena del Mar, or Emancipacion at de la Union in central Lima.

 

You say potato, I say papa rellena

When life gives you 4000 varieties of potatoes, get creative. The papa rellena is Peru’s equivalent to a twice-baked potato. Completely enclosed and thus easy to eat on the go, mashed potato is stuffed with seasoned ground beef, onions, olives and egg before being fried to golden perfection. You’ll find plenty of options within the first three blocks of Av Petit Thouars, near central Lima, where students of nearby universities scramble to get the best and tastiest deal. Top it off with ketchup or Peru’s ever-present spicy chili sauce, aji.

Fresh, large-kernel Peruvian corn stacked high after boiling in sweetened water © Agnes Rivera / Lonely Planet

Stick to the basics

Chocolate-covered pretzels aren’t the only salty-sweet combo: choclo con queso (corn with cheese) is a popular standby meal and proof that something must be in the water to make Peruvian food taste this good. In the case of Peru’s giant-kernel corn, that ‘something’ is anise. The small, aromatic seed gives the boiled corn a hint of sweetness that, when paired with a thick slab of queso Andino (a typical salty cheese in Peru), bursts into big flavor. Carts neighbor Lima’s Museum of Art during lunch hours, but at night, find the tastiest on Angamos at Jr Dante in Surquillo.

Quail-ity snack

Although pollerias (roast chicken restaurants) appear to be on every corner in Lima, huevos de codorniz (quail eggs) rule the roost when it comes to street food. Vendors with small push carts first hard boil the eggs then, if you prefer, peel the spotted shells to reveal the creamy insides which are then generously sprinkled with salt. Nearly half a dozen of these small eggs can be purchased for one sol, and are found outside of shopping center Polvos Azules in central Lima or any district market.

To do or donut?

In Peru, such hole-y goodness as the donut and other fried pastries are upped a level by incorporating native starchy vegetables. Picarones opt for sweet potato and squash, hence their orange hue. Rings of this naturally sweet batter are lightly fried before being bathed in a generous pour of Peruvian honey. Their pastry cousins, yuquitas, use flour from the yucca root to become a warm, air-puffed treat. Get the best bang for your buck (or sol) at Mercado Palermo in La Victoria for yuquitas, and Parque Kennedy in Miraflores for picarones.

Top coffee houses in Kampala

unduhan-39Hidden behind a bush of colourful foliage near the busy shopping centre Kisementi, a hedged path leads to Endiro Coffee, a beautiful little space serving coffee ground and brewed in-house. Grab a seat in the homey, comfortable loft upstairs, and with the right company, you’d think you were having coffee at the family dining table. Endiro’s motto of ‘brewing a better world’ highlights their commitment to buying coffee directly from farmers they know, train and equip in the town of Bududa on the slopes of Mt Elgon.

Good African Coffee

In the popular shopping area of Lugogo, Good African Coffee (goodafrican.com) is a trendy place for weary shoppers to put their feet up and relax. Grab a cup of the single-origin coffee that empowers thousands of local Ugandan farmers and communities and pair it with one of the heavenly handmade chocolate bars.

CaféJavas

The heat of the city will drive you into the haven of CaféJavas (cafejavas.co.ug) sooner or later. With branches all over Kampala, this cafe is undoubtedly one of the most popular spots for a cup. Try CaféJavas’ signature blend: a mocha or cappuccino amped up with a shot of espresso made from locally grown coffee. If you seek refuge from the bustling streets, order a drink in the location on Kampala Road opposite the main post office, which sports an old-school atmosphere with green velvet-covered booths, old books, dial-up phones and hooded reading lamps.

Java House

An import from Uganda’s neighbour to the east, Java House (javahouseafrica.com) brews delicious cups of Kenyan coffee that’s hand roasted daily in small batches. Java House is popular for their ice-blended coffee frappes topped with a generous clouds of whipped cream, a perfect cool-down after a warm afternoon of sightseeing. Java House is not just about the coffee, and it’s worth seeking out the amazing chocolate fudge. The tables are often taken up by coffee drinkers bent over their laptops, lapping up the fast wi-fi.

Simple but kind words will brighten your day at Café Pap, the ‘happiness capital’ © Pamela Ayot / Lonely Planet

Café Pap

Dropping into the self-proclaimed ‘happiness capital’ is one of the best ways to start your morning in Kampala. The baristas at Café Pap take a few extra seconds of their time to make each drink special by carefully writing kind words like lovely, cherished and dear in chocolate syrup on top of your coffee. The beans used here come from the slopes of Mt Elgon near the underground Sisiyi River are roasted to perfection at the shop, giving a satisfyingly sweet flavour.

BBROOD

Brood is the Dutch word for bread, which tells you immediately what this place’s forte is, but the freshly brewed coffee is up there too. Several branches of BBROOD (bbrood.ug) dot the city, but each shop can hold only about 10 customers at a time. The best one is tucked into a corner of  New Day, a little bookshop inside Acacia Mall, a great stop for sandwiches and coffee at lunch.

1000 Cups

After strolling through African Village, a huge handicraft market that’s open daily from 8am to 7pm, walk across Buganda Road to 1000 Cups, one of the first coffee shops in Kampala. Pass by the vintage stools and grab a seat on the cosy balcony outside in a low chair with overstuffed pillows. The cafe is a favourite of travellers from all over the world who are drawn to the cafe’s down-to-earth feel.

Prunes

Away from the noisy city in the suburbs of Kololo, you’ll find Prunesamongst a sprawling garden. The coffee served here is a secret blend created by the proprietor from locally sourced beans, making a rich fruity espresso. Prunes is also one of the best places to get delicious healthy food or breakfast in Kampala. Time your visit for a Saturday when the farmers market selling local fruits, vegetables and handmade art is on.