Where was its flowing charm?
We arrived in the heart of Annecy city on a Sunday evening, after a long scenic drive from Villefranche-sur-Mer on the Côte d'Azur and headed straight into Annecy Old Town.
It was strange, for some reason or another, neither Gary nor I was immediately grabbed by Annecy’s incredible charm.
I mean what’s not to love, about quaint cobbled streets, meandering canals, a beautiful mountainous backdrop and a striking opal lake.
Perhaps in hindsight, our approach should have been with a bit more ease, and go with the flow. As the city was bustling with locals and plenty of visitors all enjoying themselves.
Could it have been the time of day? As restaurants were teeming people all along the canal side, I suppose we just wanted to be a fly on the wall at a local café or bar & settle down to plan the next day’s adventure around Annecy.
Nevertheless, we continued to explore for a while and then thought it’s time to eat, which we expected to be easy. However, in the 30-degree heat, we hadn’t quite been bitten by the cheese fondue bug yet and compromised on a restaurant that we later regretted.
Oh well, you live and learn.
A helpful guide
I love nothing more than planning a trip through France and so often I use the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our French road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
Up and at’em
We were not going to be beaten so quickly, so, with renewed vigour the next morning, we fueled up with a coffee and a sweet treat. The went off to discover what Annecy had to offer, and this time we weren’t disappointed.
A tone of morning calm had seemed to have descended upon the lanes. Perhaps it was the clean mountain air drifting through, and we strolled along the canals towards Lake Annecy.
Wandering amongst the cobbled streets, we soon became to appreciate how incredibly beautiful the old town was, and had dusted off any preconceived thoughts from the prior evening.
Flowers were tumbling over bridges, colourful old buildings and crystal clear water flowing along the Thiou River. Annecy was winning us over.
As we strolled closer to the lake, the backdrop is stunning. You can easily appreciate why this region is popular all year around. Hiking, cycling, paragliding & boating, it has it all.
We were in Annecy in mid-September, and the temperature was around 30 degrees. I don’t think the rain had been seen for months in any significant amount, so it was amazing how shallow the lake was in places.
If you felt the urge to take a cruise on the lake on your own or hire a pedalo boat, everything was there for you.
Pont des Amours
In the steady heat, it was very welcoming wandering along the tree-lined Canal du Vassé, which leads off the lake. Of course, you must head over the romantic footbridge “Bridge of Love”.
A little bit of history
Annecy is the capital of the Haute-Savoie region and has some fascinating history. The Palais de l'Isle in the heart of the old town is a 12th-century castle. It sits on an island in the Thiou River and now houses the Annecy History museum. Although for a long time it served as a prison and courthouse, until the French Revolution.
Looking down elegantly on the town is Château d'Annecy, which is now restored, but was once the residence of the Counts of Geneva.
There’s a mixture of temporary and permanent exhibitions being held in the Château. In my opinion, I didn’t think there was a huge amount of history about the castle. However, the permanent exhibition on the history of Lake Annecy was fascinating. It amazed me how this body of water has played such an integral part of Annecy’s life.
You must stroll along the pedestrianised Rue Sainte-Claire. This picturesque street is charming any day of the week, cafés, boutiques, cobbled lanes, arcades & little squares.
However, on market days your senses move into overdrive. It felt like the market was not just for tourists but locals alike. We followed a few people through the streets, heading in armed with their wicker baskets.
It was mainly food, lots of fruit & vegetables, garlic, saucisson & cheeses.
Tour of the lake
We hopped back in the car for around 1 ½ hours and toured around the lake. It is only about 24 miles (37km), so isn’t too far, but, there are some beautiful viewpoints and lovely towns along the way.
If you enjoy camping and caravanning, this is undoubtedly the place to do it and quite a few options all around the lake.
We had to admit we were wrong about Annecy, yes it was touristy, but we just had to learn to share.
Where we stayed
Our accommodation for the three nights in Annecy was at the ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville Hotel. The location is fantastic, just a few steps and you are right in the heart of Place Sainte-Claire in the Old Town.
We chose to stroll out each morning for breakfast as we enjoy eating in local cafés.
There’s a public car park right next door, so great, if like us you’re on a road trip.
Where we dined
Annecy is only about 35km (22 miles) south of Geneva, so there is a strong Swiss influence around the city. And this can just mean one thing, cheeeeeeese, more specifically fondue.
Our favourite restaurant from the three nights that we were in Annecy was at Le Ramoneur Savoyard. Fondue was one of their specialities, so even though it was around 25 degree a 9pm, we sat outside and had a fromage et girolles fondue.
Would you like a little more?
We have created a little YouTube video of Annecy
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Inspired to visit Annecy?
You too can stroll amongst the picturesque cobbled lanes and enjoy the incredible scenery across the lake.
Why not stay at ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville Hotel, it really is only a short hop to the Old Town?
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