City Guide: Annecy

Annecy is a beautiful city on the Northern side of Lake Annecy closely located to Geneva. Often nicknamed as the ” Pearl of French Alps” or “Venice of the Alps” due to its picturesque location between the lake and the mountains, it has a beautiful old city centre, three small canals and the Thiou river.

Annecy Lake

Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy is the third largest lake in France and known to be the cleanest European lake due to strict regulations since the sixties. As such it is a popular destination for water sports.

Château d’Annecy – Overlooking Lake Annecy

The castle of Annecy is a small castle on top of a hill in the old town. It stems from the 12th to 16th centuries and used to be the residence of the Counts of Geneva. After a number of fires damaged the castle it was abandoned.

In 1953 the town of Annecy officially bought the castle and started restoration works. In 1959 a museum was opened in the castle. Apart from the museum you also get to enjoy great views of the city.

Annecy Old Town – River Thiou and Canals

Annecy’s old town offers many colorful houses, churches, three canals as well as frequent outdoor markets. There are plentiful small and narrow streets to explore, but the most picturesque scenery of the old town is of course to be found among the canals.

During the weekend the city is quite overrun with day tourists, but it is nevertheless a great place to stroll around. On Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays you can visit the fresh product market to find some delicious French cheese or fish. A special occasion is of course also the antique market that usually takes place on the last Saturday every month.

The old town has been restored and is thus a magnificient place to explore. There are lots of cafés, restaurants and so on – during the spring and summer time, there are also plenty of outdoor seating area and lots of flowers are blooming on the colorful balconies.

Palais de l’Ile in Annecy

In the centre of the old town marking the crossing between two of the canals, you can find the 12th century Palais de l’Ile.

During its time it has served as a prison, courthouse and administrative centre.  The palais can also be visited for a small fee.

Lake Annecy and Gardens of Europe

The most spectacular highlight is, of course, to spend time by the lake in Annecy. You can either walk by the promenade, take a boat to do a sightseeing tour or go hiking in the area. Of course, there is also a small ‘beach’ to hang out at where you are also allowed to go swimming. Several operators offer pedal boat rides and so forth.

Another green space by the lake are the Gardens of Europe with lots of benches and trees offering shade for relaxation. Many people and families come here for picnics or sunbathing.

Pont d’Amour – the bridge of lovebirds in Annecy

At the connection between canal and lake you find the most famous bridge of Annecy: the Pont d’Amour.

Annecy Pont d'amour

Annecy Pont d’amour view

Mostly couples, but also other tourists, come here to take pictures either in direction of the canal which is sidelined by trees or towards the lake. Personally, I do not think this is the most picturesque spot in the city, but others might view this differently.

Churches in Annecy – Saint-François de Sales, Cathédrale Saint-Pierre, Notre Dame de Liesse

Annecy also has a variety of churches. Including the Catholic Church Saint-Francois de Sales from the 17th century, Annecy Cathedral (Cathédrale Saint-Pierre) from the 16th century and the Church of Our Lady of Liesse (Notre Dame de Liesse) mainly stemming from the 19th century.

Due to the different times of construction you can observe various architectural styles in these monuments.

Our impressions of Annecy

It is difficult to describe the beauty of Annecy when a picture can tell you so much more than what I could tell you in a blog post. Annecy is, in my opinion, a total gem and definitely one of the most beautiful towns in France we have visited so far (and there’ve been quite a lot as you can see when checking out our city guides). I absolutely loved the panorama of this light blue lake in front of the mountains and the picturesque, colorful old town – plus it is just a stone’s throw away from Geneva, Grenoble or Lyon!

Do you have any questions about Annecy? Feel free to ask or share your impressions in the comments!

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