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Friday Feature:

Lauren Dalla Pietra of Moulin Bakery

An authentic French bakery with amazing pasties and the friendliest staff, including Lauren who I connected with toute de suite! And she happens to be from one of my favorite towns in France - Annecy - here is her story!

Where did you grow up in France?

I grew up in Annecy which is a small town in the French Alps, near Switzerland (half an hour from Geneva). We have a beautiful lake and lots of mountains all around. During summer you can enjoy the lake, which is the purest lake in Europe, and during winter you can ski in so many différents ski resorts all around Annecy. We really have the seasons over there, so it's really hot during summer and really cold during winter, with some snow in the town a few times a year. And even if France is a small country, the climates are really different all around. Of course, during summer we love going to the ocean or to the French Riviera , which is really beautiful and a nice place to spend some vacation.

What is there to see and do in your area? 

If you like sports, that's a really nice area. You have so many activities to do and also so many beautiful landscapes and nice spots to visit. I love biking, so I really recommend taking the bike path all around the lake on one day to enjoy the different landscapes, having a picnic on the beach, and a small swim because the water is really warm during summer. There is also a ton of hiking to do… My favorite one is Le Mont Veyrier, which is not too long (around 4 hours round trip, but the view on top is just amazing, and you get lots of views on your way up).

I love kayaking as well on the lake. That is so peaceful - the water is really clear, and it's so nice to see the houses bordering the lake. My favorite spot is on the bottom of Le Roc de Chere. Over there, it looks like the Caribbean sea. That's just amazing. You can also hike on the Roc de Chere. That's an easy trail with really nice views as well.

We also have a river with a canyon, which is really nice to visit, named Les Gorges du Fier. There are so many forests everywhere and I love to just spend time in the wild. If you don't really like hiking but you like beautiful landscapes, you can also go by car in Le Col de la Forclaz. You get an amazing view of the entire lake, and you can also have a lunch or dinner with good speciality meals in Le chalet de la Pricaz (best moment : Sunset).

Last but not to be missed, is visiting the old town (le vieil Annecy and not Annecy le Vieux) which has a nice little castle and old prison with the canals all around (we also call our city La Venise des Alpes). Having a walk with an ice cream is just a must. There is a farmer's market in the old town every Tuesday and Sunday with lots of local products (definitely bigger than in California).

What are the regional specialties?

As you probably know, our specialities are mostly with cheese. The really local one is the Reblochon, and we prepare the Tartiflette with this cheese (potatoes, cream, onions, "bacon", and reblochon grilled in the oven)… OMG, I miss that so much !!!! We also have Raclettes and Fondue, both with cheese as well. We also have le Pot au feu, with 3 kinds of meat, really tender/soft, slow-cooked, with lots of veggies in a broth. So yummy !!!! And you can reuse the broth for your soup… I swear, best soup ever.

Do you have a favorite restaurant?

My favorite restaurants in the old town are Le Lila Rose, with really authentic local food, next to the canal, or Le Chalet de la Pricaz for specialities with a lake view, or Le Petit Pecheur (Veyrier du Lac) for "sea food" next to the lake (almost feet on the water). Also, for wine and cheese/cold cut plates, I highly recommend La cave à vin , which is a really nice "secret" spot with really good snacks and wines. 

Do you have a favorite family recipe you would like to share? My favorite "family" recipe is probably Le pot au feu during winter. So that's 3 kinds of meat like beef shoulder, cheek , and another one, but I never remember which one (ask the local butcher, he'll know ;) ) and bone marrow. It also has carrots, leeks, turnips, onions (pricked with cloves), garlic, all together in a large amount of water and slow cooked for 2 hours. Separately, boil some potatoes. Enjoy !!

And reuse the broth for the next days for your soups

What brought you to the US, and what do you do now?

I'm here because my boyfriend always wanted to discover California ,so we came working here for a French bakery and restaurant named Moulin, and we really enjoy our experience here.

Newport Beach - Laguna Beach - San Clemente - Costa Mesa

(Lauren is at the Costa Mesa Location - 3321 Hyland Avenue)

When you go back to France, what is a “must” for you - see, do or eat!

When I go back to France, I'll definitely ask my mom to prepare all the specialities I described to you, and eat all the cheeses I love. I will eat a ton of good fruits and veggies from the local farmer's market. I will go walking and hiking in the forest or mountains, and enjoy the view of my beautiful lake and mountains 😍 And of course, hangout with my friends for some wine and beers and lots of laughs.

Do you have any other advice or travel tips for Americans going to France? Please, don't stop only in Paris, but go all around to discover our beautiful mountains , sea and ocean. You'll see, people are nicer than in Paris ;)

Merci, Lauren! You are a great ambassador for your city! I know we will stay in touch, wherever your travels take you!

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