Did somebody recommended you to visit Annecy or I do I have the privileage? To start, let me tell you a story.
I know somebody living in Annecy but working in Paris, which means he commutes every single week for work approximately 600km one way. When you hear this for the first time sounds weird, right? Like why somebody would prefer to live in Annecy and commute to Paris instead of simply moving to Paris? Well, I must say I didn’t understood why my manager is doing this until I personally went to Annecy.
The city is a small piece of heaven, surounded by a beautiful lake and mountains. I trully recommend a visit to Annecy, it is totally worth it and you won’t regret the choice.
I must say I went to Annecy twice, but only the second time I trully did visited the city. First time I went to visit some friends living there. It was so crowded in the city centre in August, that I couldn’t even found a place to park the car. So, I only done the tour of the lake by car, admiring the landscape, but skipping a visit to the old town.
It wasn’t a bad experience of course, but I still promissed myself to go back and see the city itself. More precisely, the most famous image of Annecy, the little Palace on the water, called Palais de l’Ile. And so I did, in my last day of my 30s, before changing one more digit.
Now, let’s see what I did in order to fill my day!
I know many people don’t even think about the tourist office but is such a useful place to start your visit to Annecy with. Apart from the city map you can get, they give you a brochure with the 4 circuits you can do around the town which are really useful to plan your day. The office is located exactly at the entrance of the old town, so it’s in your way anyway.
Old city centre
The old city is very beautiful and charming. The arhitecture of the houses, the colours, the narrow streets and the canals made me feel more like in Venice than France. The best part is that the entire old city is pietonal. The bad part is that anyway is very crowded.
Don’t miss a stop to the pont Morens, which is the first bridge made of stone over the river Thiou. Enjoy it at its fullest by taking your lunch or coffee on it.
Palais de l’Ille
You’ll know this is one of the best places in town for pictures, only by taking a look at the crowds around. However, from the bridge in front of the Palais de l’Ile you can get the same famous picture of Annecy that we all know – and it’s absolutely splendid and worth in the effort. From this side, you can feel the quintesense of the city is all captured within a view.
Regarding the Palais de l’Ile itself, it used to be a palace of justice but also a prison. It can be visited inside but don’t expect much. There are many information to be read about its history and Annecy itself, including their evolution in time. The nicest part are actually the rooms that has been kept like the kitchen, the cells and a small garden.
I wouldn’t say it’s a must to enter, but the price is not bad at all. For example, I did bought a combo ticket for the Palais de l’Ile and Musee Chateau for about 8 euro. If you are in a hurry, skip the visit inside. There is not much to see if you don’t have the time to read the information around.
The second big attraction of the town is the castle above the hill. It has been built by the account of Geneva starting with 1219, so it does has a history! Today, the view over the old town and Annecy Lake is the one really worth in to see.
Inside the castle there is a museum, showing the history of the town and its suroundings by exposing pottery, jeweleries, bones, sculptures and other objects found durig the excavations. Honestly speaking, it is not a must to see it, excepting for the great view you have from above.
Les Jardin de l’Europe
If you are looking for some rest, under the shadow, this garden is perfect. Apart from the fact is big and you don’t have to struggle for a place, it is ideal for a picnic or a view over the lake. Spend some time here enjoying the amazing landscape with the mountains and the lake.
Pont des Amours
Just near the gardens stands the bridge of love. Take your time to admire the canal du Vasse on one side and the lake on the other.
Visit Annecy Lake and its beaches
Even if it’s only a lake and you are still far away from the Mediteranean sea, I need to say is hard to not find your happiness here. With “green beaches” and sand under your feet – in the water – you can trully enjoy your hot summer days.
More than this, if you don’t want to enter into the water and swim, you can rent a boat or enjoy a boat ride around the lake.
There are several churches you can see around the city centre, but unfortunately are all closed excepting the cathedral of Saint Pierre. In my opinion, none of them is extraordinary at least from the outside.
As I mentioned at the beggining, if you do dare to enter the tourist office, they will provide you a brochure with four itineraries you can follow around Annecy.
The first one is called La Vieille Ville & Les Eglises. As the name is suggesting, this tour will take you through the old town streets and is passing by the churches.
The second one, called Annecy Insolite, it is also going through the old town but not in detailed. In return, is taking you up to the castle museum on top of the hill.
The third one, les caneaux, takes you from the lake up to the Thiou river. And the last one, Le Lac, takes you around the lake and the beaches, from the old city centre towards Annecy le Vieux.
Each tour takes around 2 hours, but many points of interest are mixed between them. In my opinion, as there is not something more to be seen apart from what I mentioned above, don’t bother too much with the itineraries. The beauty of the city consists in its streets, houses and athmosphere. Enjoy the city, get yourself lost on the streets and admire the lake with its mountain views – a true medecine for the soul!
While I visited the city and reading more about it, I discovered some interesting facts that I’d like to share with you.
- Thious river, which is passing Annecy, is one of the shortest river in France having only 5 km lenghts.
- Annecy has a very rich history, the first human settlements discovered in the area date from 4000 B.C.
- In the past, Annecy used to be an industrial city, producing even paper!
Well, I guess that’s all about my visit to Annecy. A hidden spot in the heart of the mountains, close to the Swiss border and the famous Mont Blanc. I would say a day is enough to see the city, but you can easily spend a weekend there. Now go, make your own memories!
Discover more places to visit in France here.