Annecy is a French village taken straight from a storybook. Annecy’s Old Town is filled with colorful buildings, winding alleyways, and a canal with unique views and crystal clear water which is crossed by the famous Lover’s Bridge. You will find this French vibrant town just a 40 minute drive south of Geneva, and definitely a worthwhile stop no matter what season it is. Whether you’re on your way to Chamonix to ski in the winter, or you’re looking for a place to spend a few days on the lake in the summertime, undeniably you won’t be disappointed with your stay in Annecy!
Annecy is part of the Haute-Savoie, so you will find traditional mountain dishes like raclette and fondue, as well as modern restaurants with endless food options. A personal favorite for a bite to eat is Bon Pan Bon Vin. This small but lively spot is a Michelin Guide restaurant with wonderful food and wine that flows all night.
The town is most famous for Le Palais de I’Île, which is a small castle-like structure which actually used to be a prison, now converted to a museum. It is located in the center of the Le Thiou canal, making it a popular photo op. Another notable feature of the town is Castillo de Annecy, which is a large castle that holds several different art exhibitions and even a small aquarium. My personal favorite part of visiting this castle is the view it has overlooking the city and the lake. Open only from April 1 to January 1 is Château de Menthon Saint Bernard, a medieval castle with a remarkable mountain backdrop which is about a 20 minute drive from Annecy along the lake and certainly another must-see.
Unlike other alpine towns, Annecy is home to its winding canal, giving rise to its nickname as “the Venice of France”, though I found it to be quite similar to Lake Como with its narrow alley ways and the beautiful Lac d’Annecy and mountain views. If you’re lucky enough to visit during warm weather, be sure to book a boat rental or tour to sail along the lake! Similar to other mountain towns in the Haute-Savoie region, paragliding reigns supreme as a popular activity, so if you’re an adrenaline junkie then consider paragliding to view the lake from a unique vantage point!