If you are planning a trip to France, you may be asking yourself is Annecy France worth visiting? Having visited Annecy twice (once from Switzerland and once whilst staying in France), I would definitely recommend a visit. Here’s a few reasons why:
- Annecy has an undeniably beautiful setting on the shores of stunning Lake Annecy.
- Annecy is an enchantingly picturesque town with cobbled streets and restaurant-lined quays along its canals.
- Annecy is perfect for summer or winter visits with plenty of different things to see and do.
Read on to find out 9 more reasons why Annecy France is worth visiting plus what you can see and do when you visit this scenic location.
Where is Annecy France?
Annecy is a town in south eastern France but don’t confuse it with Annecy-le-Vieux which is right next door! Annecy is situated in the Haute-Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. The town is nestled on the northern shores of Lake Annecy (Lac d’Annecy).
📍 Map here
Annecy has been described as the Pearl of the French Alps given its scenic location between lake and mountains. From the shores of Lake Annecy, there are beautiful panoramic views of La Tournette. At 7,700 ft (2,351 m), La Tournette is the highest mountain surrounding Lake Annecy.
To learn more about why you should visit France’s second largest city, don’t miss our post Is Lyon Worth Visiting?
Things to Do in Annecy France
Annecy is a great all year-round destination. It has an undeniably scenic setting on the shoreline of Lake Annecy. The cobblestone streets of Annecy itself are lined with picturesque buildings. If that wasn’t enough, small bridges crisscross the River Thiou which flows gently through the town alongside pretty quays.
In addition to being a picture-perfect destination, Annecy is also a great place to enjoy outdoor activities.
Here is our list of 9 reasons why Annecy France is worth visiting:
1. Relax by Lake Annecy France
Lake Annecy is one of the largest lakes in France. Depending on where you park, Lake Annecy will probably be the first thing you see when visiting Annecy. Lake Annecy is serene and tantalisingly beautiful with its crystal-clear water and stunning scenery. It is easy to see why this pristine lake is regarded as Europe’s cleanest lake.
The landscape surrounding Lake Annecy is breath-taking. A green lawned area called Le Pâquier borders the lake and, in the distance, you can see La Tournette which is the nearest mountain.
Around Lake Annecy is a 42 km bike path and a wide promenade for locals and visitors to enjoy walking and running around the lake. If you are feeling adventurous, you could try out Segway as a different way of seeing the sights of Lake Annecy and its surrounding gardens.
In addition to providing a beautiful backdrop for walking and cycling, Lake Annecy is the perfect location to enjoy swimming and a range of water sports. You can easily rent pedalos or boats to enjoy the lake from the water.
Lake Annecy also has several public and private beaches which are the perfect place to spend hot days. The Plage d’Albigny is a popular swimming spot to cool off or you could try the Plage des Marquisats. If you prefer a private beach, head to the Plage de l’Impérial.
2. Enjoy the View from Le Pâquier – Lake Annecy France
Le Pâquier is a substantial area of green lawns which borders Lake Annecy. Crossing Le Pâquier are a number of footpaths which lead to the lake and the Pont des Amours.
From Le Pâquier, you can really enjoy the stunning scenery surround Lake Annecy. It’s a great spot for locals and visitors to enjoy a picnic, meet friends and for children to play.
3. Cross the Pont des Amours (Lover’s Bridge) – Lake Annecy France
If you walk around Lake Annecy from Le Pâquier towards the town, you will cross the Pont des Amours. This is an iron bridge which joins Le Pâquier with a wooded garden area called Jardins de L’Europe.
The Pont des Amours has a romantic history. Local legend suggests that if lovers kiss in the middle of the bridge, they will be together forever!
In addition to be a romantic spot, you can enjoy magnificent views of Lake Annecy and the Canal du Vassé from the Pont des Amours.
4. Picnic in the Jardins de l’Europe (Europe Gardens) – Lake Annecy France
The Jardins de l’Europe is an attractive, large wooded park on the shores of Lake Annecy very close to the town itself. Within the park are many ancient trees which provided shady spots for picnics or an ice cream on hot summer days.
Within the park, we also discovered some unusual and striking natural sculptures. These include a unique wicker pavilion made of conical shaped wicker baskets and an intriguing wooden construction of a bird house complex by Bob Verschueren.
5. Explore the Historic Town of Annecy France
Annecy is often referred to as Venice of the Alps. This historic town is situated on either side of the banks of the River Thiou. Similar to Venice, different sized bridges cross the canals of Annecy linking picturesque quays with narrow cobblestoned passageways and streets.
We recommend you discover the historic centre of Annecy France by taking this private walking tour. For more information, click here
To be honest, Annecy is one of the most photogenic places I have visited. The combination of quaint streets with charming pastel and earth toned buildings, vivid flower boxes and jade water is captivating.
Amongst the cobbled streets and along the quays are plenty of inviting cafés, restaurants, boutiques and souvenir shops. Annecy is definitely a great place to wander. Take time to admire the architecture and soak up the atmosphere.
6. Admire the Palais de l’Îsle in Annecy France
Whether you enter Annecy via the Quai du Semnoz or the Quai des Perrière, you will notice people standing on a bridge over the River Thiou. From this bridge, you will see perhaps the most photographed building in Annecy, the Palais de l’Îsle.
The Palais de l’Îsle is one of the main sights to see in Annecy and dates back to the Middle Ages. It is sometimes described as a ‘house in the shape of a ship’ as the front looks like the pointed prow of a boat.
Over the years, this turreted building in the middle of the River Thiou has been a prison, courthouse, a Mint for the Counts of Geneva and an old people’s home!
Today, the Palais de l’Îsle is recognised as a French Historical Monument. It has also been converted into a local history museum which you can visit.
7. Visit the Château d’Annecy
Perched high above Annecy is the Château d’Annecy which is a restored medieval castle from the 12th century. It was once home to the Counts of Geneva but is now a French Historical Monument and a museum.
The museum is set in the rooms of the Château d’Annecy. It is also an art museum with works of art from prehistoric times to the current day celebrating the history of Annecy and the area of Haute-Savoie.
You can reach the Château d’Annecy by climbing steep pathways but the views from castle terrace are worth it! You can enjoy a great bird’s eye view of Lake Annecy and the rooftops of Annecy below.
8. Wander Along the Quays of Annecy France
Part of Annecy’s charm is that it straddles the River Thiou. We really enjoyed taking time to stroll along the quays in Annecy.
In particular, we thought that the Quai de l’Évêché and Quai de L’Île were some of the best spots. The Quai de l’Évêché was exceptionally attractive as it had a small lock (écluse) decorated with flowers. From the bridge in front of the lock, you can also see the length of the canal to the Palais de l’Îsle with a stunning mountainous backdrop behind.
If you walk along the Quai de l’Évêché , you will reach the Quai de L’Île as both quays run into each other. Both quays were full of fantastic restaurants with small terraces overlooking the canal and had a great atmosphere. It was a hot summers day when we visited so there were even people eating à deux under parasols on the bridges which looked very romantic despite the crowds!
9. Try out Local Savoie Specialities in Annecy France
Whilst you are in Annecy, you must try some typical Savoie specialities. Cheese is the star ingredient in most of these dishes! Here are some suggestions:
Tartiflette – This dish is baked in the oven and is made from Reblochon cheese, sliced potatoes, cream, lardons and onions. I ate this for the first time in Switzerland and it’s so tasty but forget any diet!
Fondue Savoyarde – This dish is traditionally made with a selection of three local cheeses (typically Beaufort, Comte and Tomme de Savoie) which are melted with white wine. Long forks are used to dunk bread into the deliciously gooey mixture!
Raclette – My French husband introduced me to this cheesy dish! Raclette cheese is melted and eaten with boiled potatoes, ham, charcuterie, fresh bread, cornichons and onions! We often eat this at home now and it’s amazing!
Diots and Crozets – Crozets are small flat square-shaped pasta shapes and Diots are local pork sausages. In this dish, the diots are cooked in white wine and the Crozets are made into a gratin with Beaufort cheese.
If it’s hot, don’t miss an ice cream from the Glacier Perrière on the Quai Perrière. There are 70 different flavours to choose from! My choice of Citron Meringue and Violette may not be to everyone’s taste. I wonder what you will choose, tell me in the comments below!
How to get to Annecy France
Annecy France By Car
Annecy is easily accessible from two major cities which are nearby.
Lyon France – France’s second largest city, Lyon is approximately 1 hour 45 minutes’ drive from Annecy. From Lyon, take the A43 motorway for a memorable day trip to this beautiful town.
If you are interested in other day trips from Lyon, check out our post about Best Day Trips from Lyon France.
Geneva Switzerland – If you are staying in Switzerland, Geneva is a 45-minute drive from Annecy via the A41 motorway.
Annecy France By Train
Lyon France – If you prefer to take the train, the average journey time from Lyon Part Dieu railway station to Annecy is approximately 2 hours.
Geneva Switzerland – From Geneva’s central railway station, Gare Cornavin, the average journey time by train is 1 hour 40 minutes.