Travel Postcard: 48 hours in Annecy, France

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SummarySurrounded by mountains and healthy-looking people, Lake Annecy is a smaller French version of Switzerland's vast Lake Geneva.

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

Annecy is about 30 km from Geneva, home to the nearest airport for international flights. From Paris, it's either a day-time train ride of just under four hours, or a slow night train to arrive in Annecy early in the morning.

You also need to decide what transport you'll be using during your 48-hour stay. The Annecy way to travel is by bike and enjoy to the full the 35 km of piste cyclable (cycle track) that circles the lake, so come prepared with no more possessions than you can cram into a rucksack or panniers.

Arriving from the station, make your way southeast from the station to the Vieille Ville (Old City) - an area of narrow and enticing medieval streets on either side of the Canal du Thiou.

10 a.m. - On the island in the middle, the Palais de l'Isle, built in 1132, was once the home of the Lord of Annecy. It later became the Count of Geneva's administrative headquarters, then a courthouse, a mint and a

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