Top 12 Things to Do in Annecy

Top 12 Things to Do in Annecy

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Top 12 Things to do in AnnecyIf I could go into the past and plan this trip again, I probably would have shortened up my time in Nice and Paris, and spent more time in Annecy. Looking back, it was my favorite stop of the trip. Annecy is a typical European town: narrow cobblestone streets, old buildings adorned with flowers and flags, and really cool old shit to look at, so naturally we fell in love with it. Between the mountain vistas, the lake, the food, and the charming town I would love to live here. Check out my list of the top 12 things to do in Annecy.

Top 12 Things to do in Annecy

1. Paragliding

Dustin ParaglidingFor a guy whose ass cheeks get clinched just thinking about heights, I would not have expected to enjoy paragliding as much as I did. In fact, if you want a more detailed read of this epic adventure, click here. Soaring above Annecy near the Alps, ranks as one of my all-time favorite experiences. Trust me it’s worth every euro for this unique perspective of Annecy.

2. Old Town, La Vieille Ville

Thiou CanalOld Town, La Vieille Ville, is nicknamed “the little Venice of the Alps” due to the three rivers that cross the area. The best way to explore this area is by foot. Stroll along the streets surrounding the Palais de l’Isle or up Rue Pierriere to Rue Sainte Claire which is full of restaurants. On Tuesday, Friday, and Saturday mornings there is a lively market along Rue Sainte Claire.  Whichever cobblestone street you choose to wander you’ll be delighted by the pastel buildings, the aroma of delicious pastries, and friendly people.

3. Bicycling Around Lake Annecy

BycicleSpend the day biking around the perimeter of the lake, if you get hot or tired you can always stop and cool off in the lake. We were lucky enough to stay in an Airbnb in Veyrier-du-Lac where Franck our host gave us access to his bikes. We spent a delightful evening cycling along the east shore perimeter before watching the sun set across the lake. Didn’t haul your own bike or stay with Franck? Don’t worry you can still rent bicycles, roller blades, or paddle boards in Annecy by clicking here.

4. Lac d’Annecy

AnnecyPerhaps this is a little obvious, but you should spend some time on this stunning lake. Fed by mountain springs, it is known for its crystal clean water. We decided to explore the lake by hiring a paddle boat that we found near Pont des Amours. On the paddle boat, we soaked up the views that can only be seen from the lake, while competing with Kendra to see who could pedal faster. If you’re seeking a bigger rush, several other companies rent equipment for water sports on Lake Annecy.

5. Pont des Amours or Lovers Bridge

Photo By I, Semnoz

Pont des Amours or Lovers Bridge sits at the edge of Lake Annecy at the mouth of Vasse canal. Legend has it, that if two lovers kiss on the bridge they will stay together forever. Although it is also rumored, that the early years of the bridge had a shadier tale; it was the place to meet prostitutes. Whichever legend you prefer, it arguably offers the most amazing view of the lake and surrounding alps.

6. Jardin de l’Europe

Jardins de l'EuropeMinutes from the heart of old town Annecy, the Jardin de l’Europe is a huge lakeside urban park covered with giant trees.  The park was built on a former swamp island in the late nineteenth century. The gardens provide fantastic views, cool shade, and is an ideal place for a picnic or to sit back and relax, without the hustle and bustle of the nearby streets. In addition to the beauty, the park also has free public restrooms.

7. Palais de l’Isle

Palais de l’Isle, or “the thing” as we called it, used to be a medieval castle and prison but is now an art and history museum. This castle is what drew us to Annecy. Squatting in the middle of Thiou canal, surrounded by pastel buildings and bridges adorned with bright-filled flower boxes, it’s easy to fall in love with Palais de l’Isle and Annecy.  Like hundreds of other tourists, you’ll be hard pressed to not stop on one of the many bridges that cross the canal to snap a picture of this alluring castle.

8. Food

Crepes

Swiss DinnerI won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the Annecy food scene, but I will tell you about the delicious food we had, and where we found it.

  • La Creperie du Thiou – We lucked out in stumbling upon this place right around lunch time. Kendra had always told me how great the crepes and croissants were in France, so I decided to put her word to the test. As always, her word pulled through. We had both a sweet and savory tooth that needed to be satisfied, so we got a chocolate covered crepe, as well as a ham and cheese one. The pic above will do them more justice than any of my words.
  • Le Sarto – Being so close to the border, there is plenty of Swiss influence in this area. Having wet our palettes with Swiss cuisine on our previous trip, we couldn’t resist the Swiss restaurant situated next to the canal overlooking the Palais d l’Isle. We were served a chicken breast covered in a mushroom sauce with melted cheese along with bread to dip in Gruyeres Fondue. Ya… my tongue was hard.

9. Chateau de Annecy

Chateau d'AnnecyRising dramatically above the old town, is this castle built between the 12th and 16th centuries as a residence for the counts of Geneva. After several fires, it was abandoned as a home in the 17th century. With a few repairs, it served as a barracks until 1947. In 1953 the city of Annecy acquired the property and restored the castle to house a museum of modern art.

The steep cobblestone climb from the Thiou canal is beautifully encompassed by moss covered rocks and ivy creeping over ancient buildings. We opted to just explore the outside of this castle, but if you’re inclined to tour the museum, the Queen’s tower and castle walls offer a spectacular panoramic view of Annecy.

10. Beaches

BeachThere are many beaches and accesses to lake Annecy. These three are my top recommendations:

  1.  Plage St Jorioz on the southwest shore of the lake this beach offers a large parking area, lifeguards, and a sandy beach.
  2. Plage de la Brune lies on the northeast shore of Lake Annecy. This beach is situated next to restaurants, so if you forget to pack lunch this is an ideal location. Quite a bit smaller than St Jorioz, it tends to be less crowded; however, parking is small and fills quickly.
  3. Plage D’Albigny sits along the north-central shore, and is connected to the Jardin de l’Europe . It is close to old town which offers plenty of parking, nevertheless if you’re looking for sand skip over to St Jorioz as D’Albigny beach is rocky.

11. Chateau de Menthon

Château de Menthon Saint Bernard
Photo by Florian Pépellin

Chateau de Menthon sits high on the hill in Veyrier-du-Lac just 15 minutes from old town Annecy.  Offering reenacted tours of medieval times by actors it sounds pretty fun, right? The downside is, these tours run seasonally and are only offered in French.  This majestic castle is the castle that inspired Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty, so even if you’re not fluent in French it’s worth checking out.

12. Gorges du Fier

Gorges du Fier
Photo by Rémih

 

Gorges du Fier
Photo by Guilhem Vellut

Gorges du Fier is a natural wonder of the Alps region, located just 6 miles (10km) west of Annecy.  It’s a breathtaking river canyon with a suspended footbridge affixed to the rock face 82 ft (25 m) above the river over a narrow gorge. It also has a natural pool for swimming and a small café offering snacks if you get peckish.

The river canyon is open daily between March 15 and October 15 opening at 9:30 with last chance for entry at 17:15. Visiting this enchanting canyon requires a minimal fee of 5.70 euros per adult, 3 euros per children ages 7-15. Children under 7 are free. Luckily, there are two free car parks for public use, so getting here couldn’t be any easier. This easy climb is suitable for pregnant women and elderly; however, it is not wheelchair accessible.

Unfortunately, we did not learn about this attraction until after we got home. Hopefully, after reading this post you won’t miss it like we did. Because it is definitely on my list to see the next time we are in the area. For more information regarding Gorges du Fier, click here.

Alright all you Annecy connoisseurs, have you had the chance to do any of these things? Are there any fun activities that I’ve missed? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. As always, thanks for reading.

 


26 Replies to “Top 12 Things to Do in Annecy”

  1. Hi Dustin,

    Great article, I really enjoyed the reading!
    As I was born in Belgium and most of my family lives in France, I’ve been quite a lot there. But what I didn’t visit yet, it’s Annecy.What a beautiful place, it reminds me Amsterdam or Bruges:) I will definitely put this town on my bucket list for my next visit to France!
    Thank you for the mentioning all the activities we can do in Annecy, it gave me plenty of ideas!

    1. Annecy’s a great city for anyone’s bucket list, and I’m sure you’ll thoroughly enjoy your visit.

      I guess turnabout’s fair play. Your comment gave me a new city for my bucket list as well; Bruges. I’d never heard of it before, but just flipped through a bunch of Google pics and it looks beautiful.  I’ll have to find a way to squeeze it in to our next European trip.

      Thanks for the comment Daniella.

  2. Hi Dustin and Kendra,
    I enjoyed reading your list of things to do in Annecy. As an American, I never really thought of going to visit anywhere else in France other than Paris. I’m also not a big travel buff so I only know of the one major city. Though your post has me seconding guessing skipping traveling to Europe for vacationing near the equator. I never thought about taking my love for beaches, mountains, and lakes oversees to France. Your pictures have me wanting to plan a trip to Annecy as soon as possible.
    Thanks for sharing,
    Jacqueline

    1. Jacqueline,
      There are some amazing smaller towns in Europe. We prefer them to the more touristy places as we don’t really care for crowds. Annecy, though amazing, is just one of the smaller gems we’ve found. If you’re interested you should check out Aosta (Italy), Interlaken (Switzerland), and Dubrovnik (Croatia).

  3. Hey Dustin, such a nice post, I’ve never been to paris or other part of France , but after reading your post , Annecy now is in my travel list ! . Thank you for the images as well, it shows a glimpse of what I can do there other than exploring the city.

    1. Hi Elbert. This was my first time to France as well. My wife had been in college, and after much prodding she finally convinced me to go. It didn’t take long over there to realize how dumb I was for being resistant to go. It’s a beautiful country, and despite the stigma, the French are actually quite nice people. I hope you make it to Annecy soon.

  4. Wow, those pictures you took are absolutely gorgeous. How long did your paragliding last? I went to Australia this past spring and went skydiving in Cairns, it was beautiful.

    You seem to really love the outdoors, and nature. That is awesome, my girlfriend and I are an avid hiker myself.
    I have never been to Europe, but I will definitely put Annecy on my top places to visit!

    1. Hi Christopher. Thanks for the comment. 

      The paragliding lasted about an hour. I think if I could do it again, I’d pay for a longer trip. The first thing my wife and I said to each other at the end was “wanna do it again?”

      I hope you and your girlfriend are able to make it over to Annecy soon. Please come back and fill me in if you do. 

  5. Great article on Annecy! That’s on my list of places to go. We keep spending time in France but further south along the Med. We’ll have to get to Annecy for sure. Sounds like there are lots of things to do. Looks like there’s a beautiful old town. Love that!

    1. Thanks for the comment Mary. It was such a fun and beautiful place to stay. I hope you’re able to make it there soon.

  6. Wow, Annecy is beautiful and so many places to see and things to do. I am curious though, I don’t really know where exactly Annecy is? I would love to visit, So much charm and beauty. I really love traveling to places where you can get a little bit of everything, adventure, beauty, history, flavor, and atmosphere. Which this seems to have all in one town!

    1. Hi there Matt’s mom. 

      Annecy is in the east of France in the Alps near the Switzerland and Italy borders. It really is a lovely place. Whenever people think of traveling to France, Paris is usually the only thing that comes to mind. While I thoroughly enjoyed Paris, it was the smaller towns like this that made me fall in love with France. I hope you’re able to make it there someday. 

  7. Great article. I am a Filipino who have travelled in a lot of SEA countries and Japan and London. And for us far from Europe, Most people would go to Paris when going in France. But this shows so much more of What France has to offer. I enjoyed reading your articles.
    Keep it up.

    1. It’s the same for us over here in The U.S. as well. Most people I run in to over here have never heard of Annecy. It’s one of the smaller gems that isn’t too heavily packed with tourists. I hope you are able to visit it someday soon.

  8. France is one of those places on my bucket list and hopefully I will be able to visit by next year. There’s something about a quaint little European town with beautiful landscape and old castles that is just so special. I think I can do just about everything on that list with no problem, except the paragliding as I am a scaredycat, lol. Heights don’t sit well with me, but other than that, I’m all there.

    1. Hi Wendi, believe it or not I’m not a fan of heights either. But it looked cool enough that I decided to face my fears and do it. And I’m so glad I did, it really was the experience of a lifetime.

      There, that’s all the nagging I’ll do. If you decide to forego the paragliding, like you said, there is a ton of stuff to do in this charming town. If you’ve got a year until you go, you should head over to my How to Travel for Less page to read about how to cover the cost of your airfare and hotels with credit card sign up bonuses. It’s a great way to travel and has afforded me many more opportunities than I ever would have had without it.

      Thanks for reading, and take care.

  9. Amazing website and article, I really enjoyed the pictures. I think that it’s nice how you brought us to a town that most of us have never heard of. Although I have heard of Nice and Paris of course. This article honestly makes me what to go to the city of Annecy and do the exact same things that you did. It really looks like a nice place. And the food looks good to.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Emmone. Not too many people know about Annecy, which in one way is a shame, and in another it’s nice that it’s not so crowded. If you want to go there someday, you should check out our How to Travel for Less page. It could help you get there sooner than you ever thought you could.

      Thanks for the comment and take care

  10. I’ve never been to Europe but after reading this I do believe that I’ll be planning a trip there and those are some beautiful pictures.
    Is there good lodging there as well for someone that wants to take a large family? And is it family friendly? If so this will be my first vacation for the family.
    Again love the pictures do you have any more pics?

    1. Hi James. I hope you are able to go to Europe soon. It really is an amazing place with spectacular sights.

      We booked our stay at an Airbnb that was just right for 2 people. Airbnb is full of larger accomodations though. There are some bed and breakfast style hotels right in Annecy as well. As far as being family friendly – If I had kids, I wouldn’t hesitate to take them with me.

      I’ve written a couple posts about our trip in France. You can find the my France travel page here. It has links to the rest of our France adventures with more pictures to look at.

      Thanks for reading and take care.

  11. hey ! Oh this is lovely. I know I want to travel the world but i wasnt sure of all the places I wanted to go but i know this will definitely be on my list! Such beautiful attractions and things to do and it’s weird because I haven’t heard of this place before. So thanks for informing me by writing this article. I will definitely be adding it to my bucket list of places I must go.

    1. Hey there Tiffani,

      I had never heard of Annecy until I planned my last trip to France. We were planning to drive from the coast up through the Alps and were just googling random cities that showed up on the map. When we saw pictures of Annecy, we knew we had to route ourselves through there. If I could plan the trip again, we would have stayed much longer.  It’s a beautiful place, and I hope you make it there some day soon.

  12. Hi there,

    never heard of this place but the way I see it… it is super interesting !!!!

    nice pictures… can you add more pictures as I really enjoy seeing them. it would be really great if you can add more pictures like… local food… hotels there… public transport and so on…

    love your promotion site. not too many options as it will confused people.

    does the people there speak English? if not, maybe you can share more about the local languages.

    thanks!

    1. Hi there, and thanks for reading. We’ve done a few reviews of our travels through France, all of which have pictures. This page has links to all of our France reviews.

      As for the language, it’s a touristy area so you can get away with English. French, however, is the common language spoken there.

  13. Hi Dustin,

    I loved your article on 12 things to do in Annecy. It was very engaging and makes me want to visit. The pictures really drew me in. Old Town La Vieille Ville looks really nice and I can see why it’s called “Little Venice”. I appreciate you added something about the food. Most travel websites will just brush over the food aspect of a place and just focus on landmarks. Well Annecy has now been added to the bucket list of places I must visit.

    1. Hi Phyllis,

      Thanks for taking the time to read our list of things to do in Annecy. We sure loved it there, and hope you’re able to make it there someday soon. If you have any budget constraints that are keeping you back from doing all the travel you desire, you should check out our How to Travel for Less page. These methods have helped a lot of people take their dream vacations much sooner than they ever imagined.

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