Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Annecy, France

Fri Nov 9, 2012 4:16am EST
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By Barbara Lewis

ANNECY, France (Reuters) - Surrounded by mountains and healthy-looking people, Lake Annecy is a smaller French version of Switzerland's vast Lake Geneva.

In the winter, the fortunate local residents ski. In all seasons, they climb the peaks, cycle around and swim in their glorious lake.

Life in general is very pleasant. Hence the shock was all the greater when in September, Annecy found itself swarming with police and international media drawn to a brutal killing in woodland above the lake.

Three members of a British-Iraqi family were shot dead in their car, and at the roadside, a French cyclist unlucky enough to be in the wrong place at the wrong time was also slain. A four year-old girl hid for eight hours beneath her dead mother's skirts. Her seven-year-old sister was seriously injured.

The locals compared it to "l'affaire Dominici" - the killing of three Britons in their car in a different part of the French Alps in the 1950s. That crime was never conclusively solved and the ongoing fascination with it has inspired films.

Annecy's press voiced concern about horror tourism as visitors made their way to the scene of the crime in the Combe d'Ire (literally Valley of Wrath), near the idyllic village of Chevaline. They may well have been going there anywhere as the area is stunningly beautiful, even by region's exceptional standards.

Correspondents with local knowledge offer tips for the other sights to explore during a short stay.

Day one   Continued...