Where to stay
Check out the Ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville for a great central hotel (If you book using this link I get a small commission at no extra cost to you).
Top things to do in Annecy
Wander the streets of the Vielle ville (old town)
Grab a French pastry or ice cream
Photograph the Palais d’Ile
Check out the local artists lining the canals
Walk around the Lake
Visit the Pont des Amours
Rent a peddle boat to view the Lake from the water
In summer visit the Plage d’Albigny
Have a picnic on the lawns next to the Lake
I lived an hour train ride away from Annecy for 6 months. I thus got to visit it in winter, spring and summer. I would definitely recommend visiting Annecy in the summer as there is much more of a vibe, more to do and you can really make the most of the Lake.
For my day off this week I decided to visit the quaint town of Annecy. Being only an hour train ride away, it made for a perfect day trip. The weather here has been really pleasant for the past week and so the sun decided to continue blessing me with its presence. Annecy is a gorgeous little town often nicknamed the ‘Venice of the Alps’ as it is lined with canals and colourful buildings. Not only that but it boasts the crystal-clear and glistening Lake Annecy. It really is a tranquil and peaceful place to just take some time out and enjoy looking at the Lake framed by the snow-capped Alps. I stumbled upon a flea market and it was so lovely to see vendors of antique furniture, cameras and books dotted along the cobbled quays of Annecy.
After winding through the wide array of stalls and narrow, cobbled streets lined with boulangeries (bakeries) and charcuteries (delis), I made my way to the Chateau d’Annecy. It is a castle on a hill that every blog I’d read had said was a must-see in Annecy. Okay, so I’m just going to go against that and say that there is nothing must-see about this place. After paying my 2,60 euro entrance fee and starting my exploring, I soon realised that all this place was, was a museum with a splattering of artwork. Really nothing historical or beautiful or interesting. I couldn’t even see a good view of the town from above as the windows were so dirty! Needless to say I don’t recommend you go here when visiting Annecy. Yes, go take your photograph but there isn’t a need to go inside.
Walking around the beautiful canals and trying to capture the vibrant colours of the buildings and rustic bridges straddling the canals, I took a gazillion photos. It really reminded me of Venice but calmer and without the gondolas.
Another apparent must-see is the Palais d’Ile, pictured below. It used to be a prison but is now just a building in the middle of the canal that everyone stops to take a photo of. In my opinion there are other much more photogenic buildings in this French town but go ahead, have your snap before turning around and admiring the gorgeous view of the lake in front of you.
The point where the canal flows into the Lake is lined with artists and ice cream shops which I imagine would be abuzz in summertime. With the sun shining, the atmosphere was truly alive.
The quay splays out onto a promenade lining the Lake. The walk way is a moving and alive organism of people cycling, running, walking or just stopping and enjoying a croissant with their legs dangling over the edge of the Lake.
With a view like this it is easy to spend hours just sitting and admiring the crystal-clear Lake framed by the snow-capped Alps. In summer there are daily boat rides across the Lake. Being winter there weren’t any running but it is something that I definitely want to do sometime.
Another canal runs into the Lake at the Pont des Amours. It is a gorgeous bridge that definitely deserves the must-see status that it holds. I completely understand its name as it truly has a romantic feel about it (amour means love in French).
From the bridge you have a beautiful view of the canal lined with trees and docked boats. A beautiful place to just breathe and take in the beauty surrounding you.
There isn’t a lot to do in Annecy and so I found myself concerned at how little site-seeing I’d done. But really what I came to realise was that this was no big city with attractions and monuments but rather a peaceful, beautiful and quaint town rich in the French culture. It’s not about rushing around and ticking off sites that you’ve seen but rather slowing down to the French pace, buying an almond and chocolate croissant and dangling your feet over the rippling water while soaking up the winter sunshine. And that is exactly what I did! Day off well spent!
In summer the town is alive and the Lake a brilliant blue. Wander the canals looking at the brightly coloured building with their flower boxes, rent a peddle boat to check out the Lake and walk around to Plage d’Albigny for a beach on the lake experience.
If you’re visiting more of France on your trip why not check out my French regional guides:
A winter skiing trip to Tignes
Champagne region: Epernay