For me, there is no better destination than a quaint historical town located within a scenic region. Those places often help us relax our minds, free us from stress, and make our fantasies come to life!
In France, Annecy is the epitome of a scenic and historical destination. This is why Annecy is nicknamed the “Pearl of the French Alps!” Believe it or not, it is also called the “The Venice of the Alps”— Annecy can be the romantic destination you might be looking for!
That sounds compelling, but is Annecy really worth visiting? Think about it no more because, in this blog post, we’ll answer that question! I’ll also tell you the 10 reasons to visit Annecy so you may know if it’s meant for you to see or not.
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The reasons you would like to visit Annecy aren’t the only ones you’ll find here! I made this post as comprehensive as possible so you can decide well whether to visit Annecy or not.
I also mentioned the best attractions in Annecy, tips on visiting them, practical information, and links to their official website. Not only should they help you decide, but they will also help you plan your trip to Annecy if you decide to visit.
To start, let’s summarize the experience in Annecy by answering the question you are probably here for:
Is Annecy Worth Visiting?
Absolutely, Annecy is worth visiting! Visitors love its quaint romantic old town and the beautiful natural scenery surrounding it. Come to have a throwback experience in its heritage sites, relax on its crystal clear lake, and enjoy one-in-a-lifetime adventures in the surrounding mountains.
As far as I know, Annecy is a destination with a charm, unique from other towns and cities in France. On your visit, you should get a lovely impression of Annecy from the combined beauty of its preserved historic center and scenic location.
At the same time, you should visit Annecy because it is rare to find an all-in-one destination in France.
Like… Where else can you go that lets you discover the history, have a romantic get-away, fun adventure, admire quaint architectural gems, and relax in nature all at the same time?
For me, visiting Annecy is an excellent idea, like a trip to Paris! See why Paris is worth visiting from this link and discover the unmissable attractions in the French capital.
If you want to know exactly what I’m saying about Annecy, stay tuned as they’ll unfold as we discuss the 10 best reasons why you should visit Annecy.
But before that, let me introduce Annecy to you very well. I’ll share some facts about Annecy and things you may consider when planning a trip to Annecy.
Introduction to Annecy
For every destination that I visit or I wish to go to, there are a few things I always aim to do. They are to:
- Create beautiful, unforgettable moments. (As it’s the essence of traveling)
- Discover fascinating cultures or significant parts of history. (As they broaden our understanding of the world)
- Be filled with awe to forget all your worries, problems, and every negative thing about life. (Because awe is one of the most beneficial things traveling can give us)
If they are the things you also want to feel/do when you travel, I believe you will enjoy Annecy.
How? Here are some facts about this beautiful town to serve as hints:
- Annecy has scenes straight out of a romantic movie like Pont des Amours, the bridge which Annecy is famous for.
- Annecy has a long history, dating back to ancient times. Studies say people were already residing in Annecy 3100 years before Christ’s birth.
- Annecy is blessed with beautiful natural scenery like Lake Annecy. It is a lake with a beach and is considered one of the cleanest lakes in the alps.
In the following sections, you can find answers to the questions that everyone considers when planning and making an itinerary for a trip to Annecy.
Apparently, they will give you an idea whether you can visit Annecy, depending on the level of practicality you prefer.
Where is Annecy?
To find Annecy on the map, we should look at southeastern France. There, we can find the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. And within this region lies the Haute-Savoie department, where Annecy is.
If you can see the topography of Europe, you can spot Annecy in the Alps’ northwestern part (French Alps). When you see a lake in the French Alps with a town to its north—it’s no other than Annecy and Lake Annecy.
Nestled in the French Alps, Annecy has breathtaking scenery you can quickly see a few-minute walk from the town center. You can already see the spectacular mountains rising above the lake from Annecy’s beaches.
On the beach, look south, and you’ll see Mont Semnoz. While if you look east, it’s Mont Veyrier you’ll find.
How to Visit Annecy?
Although Annecy is in France, the closest city to Annecy is the Swiss city of Geneva. Annecy is located only 43 kilometers (27 miles) south of Geneva.
At a minimum, it only takes 30 minutes to drive Geneva to Annecy and vice versa.
If you prefer public transportation to travel, you can choose between buses and trains. From Geneva, these buses and trains service passengers going to Annecy without transfers.
Travel time between Geneva and Annecy using public transportation varies from an hour to 1 hour and 30 minutes, depending on the traffic situation.
You can check the schedules of bus and train departures from Geneva to Annecy from Rome2Rio.com.
However, suppose you are already in France’s key cities like Paris and Lyon. In that case, it is no longer necessary to pass by Geneva to get to Annecy.
Paris has direct train rides to Annecy. If you plan to travel using TGV (high-speed trains), you can get to Annecy from Paris in less than 4 hours.
Are you going to Annecy from Lyon? You may also find trains servicing passengers traveling between these two cities. It can take you approximately 2 hours to get to Annecy from Lyon.
You may get more information about these train rides to Annecy on sncf.com (state-owned railroad system of France). Tickets can be booked from their website.
By the way, Lyon is called the “Gateway to the French Alps.” If you’re traveling in southern France, it’s where you must go first before you reach Annecy.
Learn more about Lyon and the reasons why you should visit Lyon.
You may also like to discover Avignon. It is the city in the South of France, home of the popes back in the 14th century. Here are more reasons why you should visit Avignon.
How many days are enough in Annecy?
Three to four days. Within that time, you can already see Annecy’s historic center, visit two or three landmarks, relax by its beach, and have an adventure in the mountains.
However, you may consider doing outdoor activities and mountain adventures in Chamonix instead of Annecy. If that’s your plan, allocating one to two days for a trip to Annecy is enough.
Chamonix is the town at the foot of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps. It lies 94 kilometers (58 miles) east of Annecy. Going to Chamonix from Annecy takes approximately 1 hour by car and 1.5 hours by direct bus.
If you haven’t got any idea about Chamonix, here is a complete explainer of why you should visit Chamonix.
Based on all this information, did Annecy fit your “WIP itinerary?” If yes, great!
Let’s see what great experiences you can have when you visit Annecy on my list of best reasons to visit Annecy (we’ll discuss them next).
Well, I guess you’ll probably reconsider visiting Annecy after reading my 10 reasons (if not).
So, let’s go!
10 Best Reasons Why Visit Annecy
For an escapist traveler like me, Annecy is the perfect city in France. I think all the travel experiences that Annecy offers satisfy my desires.
Of course, Annecy is a destination not only for escapists! That is most especially if you like:
- Wandering in a charming old town
- Spending time on a romantic bridge
- Unique historical landmark
- Marveling in a magical castle
- Relaxing on a lovely lake & beach
- Admiring gorgeous church
- Hiking scenic trails
- Getting fun adventures
- Attending fun festivals & events
- Visiting more attractions outside the city
Before we continue… I just want to share my list of the most beautiful villages in southern France. Click the name of a village to discover a new destination in France (it will open in a new tab you can read later).
|Gordes||A scenic hilltop village with a view of the picturesque Luberon Regional Nature Park.|
|Eze||A romantic hilltop village with an overlooking view of the coast of the French Riviera|
|Rocamadour||A breathtaking pilgrimage site and historical village in Lot Department|
|Moustiers Sainte-Marie||A village sitting by the foothills and nearest to the spectacular Verdon Gorge (Grand Canyon of France)|
|Aigues Mortes||A walled village with imposing gates located in the wildlife-rich Camargue Regional Nature Park|
|Carcassonne||The village/town with 2 preserved medieval walls and 2 UNESCO sites.|
|Chamonix||The village/town with the most panoramic views of the Alps in the South of France.|
|Domme||A quaint village in Dordogne Valley known for its honey-colored houses|
|Saint-Paul de Vence||A village in the French Riviera, home to countless artworks tucked in its preserved medieval narrow lanes.|
|Saint-Cirq Lapopie||A charming village with half-timbered houses overlooking Lot River.|
You may click the names of the villages to learn more. Alternatively, you can also read my article about the Most Beautiful Villages in the South of France for a brief summary of each village.
I also want to share with you the town called Annecy—my favorite city in France. It’s a scenic place that also has a charming historic center, where you can discover some history. I think that you’ll love hanging out at its lake (Lake Annecy). Learn more from my post “10 Reasons Why Visit Annecy.”
Reason 1: Charming Old Town
Whatever kind of traveler you might be, I’m sure you’ll find the historic center of Annecy full of charm. On a sunny day, it is so beautiful that it can pull your cheeks up to a smile!
A simple stroll in Annecy’s streets can already feed your wanderlust and thus a reason to visit Annecy. From its flower-decked bridges to narrow-arcaded lanes and pastel houses—you will surely be eye-pleased!
If you go to Annecy, you must prepare your camera. Back up your existing media and clean up your storage. Because the historic center also overflows with picturesque scenes.
Did you know? It is not only your eyes that will be satisfied in Annecy.
Annecy’s historic center has lovely cafes and restaurants offering dishes that are specialties of the alpine region. Taste buds will be tickled by the delicacies made in the mountain like Tartiflette, Raclette, and Fondue. Don’t you miss those three!
The thing is, the historic center of Annecy is dotted with hidden gems, and they can surprise you as you explore around.
If you plan to walk around the historic center of Annecy, here are a few things I discovered you might as well want to see:
- Porte Perrière — it is one of the gates of the historic center of Annecy. You’ll find a cute house with a flower-decked wooden balcony a few steps away. It’s nice to visit for a selfie.
- Rue Perrière & Rue Sainte-Claire — these are perhaps the most picturesque streets in Annecy. During peak season, this narrow pathway flanked by arcaded buildings is bustling with tourists.
- Cathédrale Saint-Pierre — this church has a beautiful organ with colorful rose windows in the backdrop. The choir is also notable. I like the lighting effects created by the windows and the stained glass windows above the altar.
- Église Notre Dame de Liesse — At night, its imposing Disney castle-like spire glows—quite nice to see. The most notable part is its ornate interiors with a dome painted with beautiful frescoes. The dome has an oculus, creating a “holy” light effect inside the church.
Bookmark this post or pin this to Pinterest so you can quickly go back to this post and locate these “gems” (Above are links to Google Maps).
Reason 2: Romantic Bridge
If you’re traveling with your special someone, walking down Annecy’s picturesque streets is the only start of your romantic trip to Annecy.
Can you imagine?
You and your partner slowly walk together, lost in time, while wandering Annecy’s charming streets… holding each other’s hands. As you stroll, you talk about your deepest feelings, dreams, and aspirations—isn’t it a scene straight out of a movie so special you can remember forever?
You don’t need to doubt that you can create such memorable moments in Annecy. Because, indeed, Annecy is dubbed “the Venice of the Alps,” and many people can already attest to that.
As I just mentioned, the streets of Annecy are where the romantic moments only start.
There are more you can find.
Like in Venice, the most romantic places where you can be in Annecy are on its canals and bridges.
They are like made for romantic moments we all fantasize about. From their flower-decked decorations to the ducks you can see on the canal’s blueish water, romance can just be felt in every corner of the place.
For me, they are enough to be a reason why any couple would visit Annecy.
You can find several bridges when you visit Annecy’s historic center. They were built over the River Le Thiou and Canal du Vassé—the two most beautiful places in Annecy.
If I’m not mistaken, there are seven bridges in Annecy’s historic center. However, for me, there are only two unmissable:
- Pont Perrière — from this bridge, you can see Annecy’s most iconic scene. It is the viewpoint of Le Palais de I’Île, the most notable landmark of Annecy, which most people call a “house in the shape of a ship.” You’ll learn more about it as we go along.
- Pont des Amours — here, you see a picturesque view of Canal du Vassé, equally flanked on both sides by trees. If you turn around, the view changes to breathtaking views of lake Annecy and the mountains.
Based on their names, I think you already know which among the two is more romantic. Guess? Well, definitely, it’s Pont des Amours! Literally, it means “Love Bridge” in English.
Legend says that Pont des Amours was crossed by countless lovers many years ago. And those who exchanged their kisses while on the bridge became united for eternity.
Couples who have met their other half must be excited to exchange kisses on Pont des Amours.
For singles like me, let’s not be bitter! Although we have nothing to fall in love with for eternity, we have stunning views we can admire and love instead. You know, our time will come—let’s just wait. 🙂
Disclaimer. During the peak season, Pont des Amours can be swarmed by tourists. To feel the romantic vibe, I urge you to wake up early in the morning and visit the bridge before the day-trippers arrive in Annecy.
If you are lucky, you might witness the beautiful sunrise appearance of Lake Annecy!
Reason 3: Unique Historical Landmark
Another reason why Annecy is worth visiting is because of a rare historical heritage site called Le Palais de I’Île.
Why is Le Palais de I’Île rare?
Because Le Palais de I’Île is a structure like no other in Annecy or, perhaps, in France. As far as I know, only a few places in Europe have this kind of building. One of them lies in Germany, in another beautiful town called Bamberg.
In a nutshell, Le Palais de I’Île is a 12th-century castle perched on an island in the River Thiou. Of all the buildings in Annecy, Le Palais de I’Île holds the title of one of the oldest to still exist in its original form.
Indeed, because of this, if you’re the kind of traveler who wants to discover new things for every destination you go to, Annecy won’t leave you empty-handed.
Also, Le Palais de I’Île is one of the most photographed landmarks in France. With its picturesque setting, surrounded by colorful houses and the turquoise water of River Thiou, it is not hard to understand why.
Not to mention the appearance of Le Palais de I’Île. It is like the prow of a stone ship, cutting the Thiou River into two!
It must have fascinated not only photographers but also the artists trying to paint this beautiful part of Annecy.
From the Pont Perrière, Le Palais de I’Île does not look like it was built on an island. But, if you get close and enter the structure, you’ll see that it’s only connected to the banks of River Thiou by bridges.
Did you know what surprised me about Le Palais de I’Île? It’s history.
Viewing it from Pont Perrière, Le Palais de I’Île looks like a simple town hall. But the thing is, Le Palais de I’Île served many purposes.
It became the town’s stronghold, prison, home of the elderly, a school for carpenters, and a gymnasium. Now, it is a museum managed by the Architecture and Heritage Interpretation Center. Inside, you can find exhibits showing Annecy’s heritage and urban history.
There is so much you can discover from Le Palais de I’Île, despite being only a small castle.
If you like places where you can discover so much, I suggest you check Strasbourg. It is the French capital of Europe, with attractions encompassing all ages from medieval to modern! Learn more from this article about the 22 Reasons Why Visit Strasbourg.
Reason 4: Magical Castle
Did you know that there are two castles within Annecy’s historic center?
The first one is Le Palais de I’Île—the castle perched on an island in the Thiou River we discussed previously. Another is Musée-Château d’Annecy—an imposing structure that’s another reason to visit Annecy.
Musée-Château d’Annecy is the castle you’ll find in the southern portion of the historic center of Annecy. If you are already in Rue Perrière & Rue Sainte-Claire, you are less than 5 minutes away on foot to the castle’s entrance.
What’s remarkable about this castle is that it’s almost 900 years old, guarding Annecy since the 12th century.
It was modified several times in history. But when you visit, you can still perceive it manifesting imposing medieval defensive architecture.
Musée-Château d’Annecy was the home of the counts of Geneva back way back to the 13th and 14th centuries. This is why you may also notice that Musée-Château d’Annecy has renaissance-style architecture.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
So, what makes Musée-Château d’Annecy a reason to visit Annecy? Simply because it has a surprise for you.
This castle, towering over 30 meters high and with walls over 3 meters thick, is more than just a medieval structure you’d only admire for its magical appearance. It’s also a museum containing a wide range of exhibits you would not expect to see inside a castle.
Most European castles exhibit antiques, items from the middle ages, weapons, and armors of the knights and noblemen.
But in Musée-Château d’Annecy, underwater archaeology is the one you would least expect (Regional Alpine Lakes Observatory).
You can also find other exhibits in Musée-Château d’Annecy that you would not usually expect to see in a castle, like contemporary art and films. But underwater archaeology must be the most fascinating discovery you can have in Musée-Château d’Annecy (in my opinion).
Honestly, it baffles me how marine life reached the alpine lakes, thinking that these lakes are too elevated and far from our seas or oceans.
Anyway… you can expect to discover so many things about alpine flora, fauna, and fishing & tourism industries when you visit Musée-Château d’Annecy. Some fishing tools exhibited here date back as early as the Neolithic age!
I don’t want to spoil you with what awaits you in the castle, but here is the link where you can learn more about the underwater archaeology in Musée-Château d’Annecy.
However, Musée-Château d’Annecy is not limited to underwater archaeology and modern art. You may also want to come here to discover the heritage of Annecy, the local’s fine arts masterpieces, religious items, and many more.
Oh, I must not forget that Musée-Château d’Annecy is also a vantage point of the historic center of Annecy.
Where is it? When you enter the castle, you will find a tree at the far end, apart from the entrance. Go there, and a breathtaking & overlooking view of the old houses and Lake Annecy will be yours to see!
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
Isn’t it magic to find so many things in just one castle?
Now, do you want to visit Musée-Château d’Annecy? It is open all year round (from 10:30 am to 6:00 pm), but make sure to come not on a Tuesday when it is closed.
Reason 5: Lovely Lake & Beach
For you, what makes a city beautiful?
For me, it is the presence of green and blue spaces (parks, lakes, etc.). Whether I’m a local or a tourist visiting another city, these places are always one of the things I look for. They make the city beautiful.
First, because they’re places that do not only please the eye but can also be so refreshing!
At the same time, blue and green spaces are where you can hang out for free and, at the same time, improve your well-being. And frankly, they are also potential locations for photo opportunities.
Talking about Annecy, a city built beside a lake and the mountains, undoubtedly has many of these blue and green spaces—Lake Annecy being the most accessible.
Lake Annecy makes a visit to Annecy worthwhile because aside from the benefits of blue/green spaces I mentioned, it is just so relaxing and beautiful!
That is true, most especially during summer.
Lake Annecy’s alpine water that glitters with sunlight, its beaches, and lawn-covered gardens are scenery straight out of a paradise.
You will not think twice about dipping your skin in the water in Lake Annecy because it’s so clean! Its spectacular turquoise water is one of the purest waters in Europe.
Coming from the glaciers and with the 50 years of effort to improve the lake’s water quality, you can expect you’ll not get rashes after a dip! A study even said that Lake Annecy is so clean that the water transparency in Lake Annecy could range up to 10 meters.
If you want to learn more about how clean Lake Annecy is, you may check the official website of Lake Annecy.
With the beaches in Lake Annecy, you don’t have to go to the far east just to sunbathe, swim, and enjoy the sun.
What’s even better? While you swim on the beach, you get a view of the spectacular mountains just on the other side of the lake. That’s just the best vacation I could ever imagine.
There are many beaches in Lake Annecy. But here are the top 5 beaches nearest to the town of Annecy:
- Plage d’Albigny (score: 4.2 out of 5)
- Plage des Marquisats (score: 4.2 out of 5)
- Plage Municipale, Sevrier (score: 4.4 out of 5)
- Plage de la Brune (score: 4.3 out of 5)
- Plage Saint-Jorioz (score: 4.4 out of 5)
Among the beaches in Lake Annecy, the closest to the historic center is Plage d’Albigny. It is located east of Casino Imperial Annecy, a 20-minute walk from the Lover’s Bridge.
However, do not expect to see powder-fine sand! Everything is just perfect for relaxing. But with the mountains, it could be picture-perfect too.
You can do more than just sunbathing and splashing around in Lake Annecy. Try some aquatic activities like:
- Stand-up paddling
- Canoeing and Kayaking
- Water skiing
If less sporty activities and more relaxing ones you like, you can try:
- Rent a pedal boat or a motorboat
- Join a tour on wooden boats
Lake Annecy has aquatic sports equipment and boat rentals on its shores. You don’t need to worry about bringing your own stuff. Here’s a list of water sports providers in Lake Annecy.
What’s really exciting about Lake Annecy?
The lake has not-so-usual-alpine-lake-things-to-do like snorkeling, freediving, and scuba diving. You will be surprised that there’s even a shipwreck in the lake!
Who would expect that there would be activities like these in an alpine lake?
Fascinatingly, prehistoric villages and ancient lake cities can also be found on an underwater tour of the lake. Believe it or not, they are recognized as UNESCO heritage sites.
Reason 6: Gorgeous Church
It’s not only in Lake Annecy you can find tranquility and relaxation. If the beaches and promenades in Lake Annecy are crowded or you want to try the “solemn” vibe, I know a place to go to.
The place is called Basilique de la Visitation, a church perched on a hill south of the historic center of Annecy.
Let’s say you are already in Musée-Château d’Annecy. In that case, Basilique de la Visitation will only be less than 15-minute away on foot.
For me, it is a reason to visit Annecy because it is both an architectural marvel and a lovely place for contemplation. With the elegance of the place and its peacefulness, you’ll probably find your:
- Mind in peace.
- Thoughts filled with awe.
All the negativities occupying your mind will be gone by the time you leave the place.
Basilique de la Visitation’s gorgeous appearance and elevated environment can slightly make you feel like you’re on a special scene. I do not know, but it kinda gave me the impression that it’s a place straight out of a video game I used to play… Like, the home of an oracle or something.
Well, the fact is Basilique de la Visitation is really a special place!
That is particularly to the Christians who come here as pilgrims doing the Salesian worship. Also, Basilique de la Visitation is one of the 5 bell towers of Annecy emblem to the 5 Eras of its history.
Unlike other churches in Annecy and famous churches in Europe, Basilique de la Visitation is relatively young, constructed only in the early 1900s. This is why you’ll see it manifesting gothic revival instead of traditional baroque and romanesque.
You may not find Basilique de la Visitation as marvelous as the churches in Venice, Paris, Rome, Florence, or Wurzburg. But it does not mean we can quickly leave Basilique de la Visitation out of our itinerary.
I think all churches are unique and have a unique charm that makes all the difference.
Outside, the most notable is the arch portal under its lone spire. The bricks, the relief on the walls, and the grid above the doorway—they can give the impression that it’s a gate to heaven.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
When you enter, I believe you will marvel at the giant columns made of blue marble along the nave.
As you walk towards the altar, you’ll see its kaleidoscopic stained glass windows at the sides. They illuminate the church’s interiors with different colors. And it’s so magical!
It’s also worth mentioning the artwork of the Holy Trinity in the choir.
Above it are light tunnels forming a cross. The light effects from the light tunnels can look stunning on a bright sunny day.
If you’re an architecture lover, you’ll find it hard not to photograph—because it’s really a shutter-presser! But if you will take photos, make sure not to interfere too much with the people praying and meditating.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
Basilique de la Visitation is usually open from 8:00 am to 6:30 pm (closed from 12:00 pm to 2:00 pm). Entry is free.
Learn more about Basilique de la Visitation from its official website (in French).
By the way, I just want to share something…
If you love admiring medieval architecture or visiting historical centuries-old churches, I recommend you visit Reims. In its cathedral, the kings of France had their coronation ceremonies. Learn more about Reims and the reasons to visit Reims here.
Reason 7: Hike Scenic Trails
Annecy is probably France’s most accessible and most beautiful town where you can quickly go hiking on real scenic trails. This is why I think a trip to Annecy is a good idea!
Well, actually, hiking is really the main good idea for this part.
Why? Because there’s nothing other than hiking that can improve your well-being for free and, at the same time, fill you with peace of mind and awe.
I have hiked several times and always felt better after I hiked. How about you?
Or… you haven’t tried hiking?
If you haven’t, I suggest you should try at least once. I promise it’s worthwhile.
In Annecy and around Lake Annecy, there are nearly 50 hiking trails that await you. They have lengths that stretch from 1 to 14 kilometers (0.6 to 8.6 miles). And whether you are a beginner, intermediate, or expert hiker, there’s one for you.
Here is an interactive map showing you all the hiking trails around Lake Annecy. If you do not want to go too far from the town of Annecy, these are the 4 closest scenic hiking trails you might like to try:
- L’ancien téléphérique du Mont Veyrier — This hiking trail starts in Bois Jettas at the outskirts of Annecy to the east. It is a 4.5-hour hike, covering a 10.5-kilometer (6.5-mile) track rated “hard.” Although it is a demanding hike, it lets you have a rewarding overlooking view of Lake Annecy and surrounding alpine peaks.
- Cross of Chuguet-Grande Jeanne from Létraz — It is the hiking trail that starts in the town of Sevrier, 20 minutes from Annecy by bus. This 1.75-hour hike, covering a 5.3-kilometer (3.3-mile) track, brings you to the forest and a viewpoint where you’ll see the craggy mountain peaks to the east of Lake Annecy.
- The loop of the Château de Menthon – Montviard waterfalls — This hiking loop is perhaps one of the magical hikes near Annecy. It starts in Bluffy, a town 25-minute drive from Annecy. From there, you’ll walk for 3 hours, covering 6 kilometers (3.7 miles), passing by a castle, hamlets, and alpine fields. It has medium hiking difficulty.
- The hamlets of Château Menthon-St-Bernard — It is the family-friendly version of the previous hiking trail, passing by hamlets and a castle along the hike. This trek stretches for 4 to 5 kilometers (3.10 miles), which you can quickly finish within 2 hours. It starts from Menthon-St-Bernard, a town 20-minute drive from Annecy.
Indeed, these are all pleasant trails. But if you want your hike to be productive, like discovering pieces of history as you wander in nature, try this next suggestion I have for you.
The place is Plateau des Glières.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
And it is a limestone plateau 30 kilometers from Annecy that can bless your eyes with idyllic views of the French alpine countryside.
I bet you’ll love the view of the rolling meadows where the mountain pastures are during your hike. You can expect to hear the soothing sound of the ringing cowbells and chirping birds as you trot on the trails.
Also, Plateau des Glières is a historical site that bears witness to the French resistance’s bravery back in the Second World War. As you hike, you’ll find memorials retelling the events on the plateau almost a century ago.
You’ll be inspired by the strength and courage of the 465 men who fought the German army.
Here’s the official website of Plateau des Glières, where you can learn more about the place.
Reason 8: Fun Adventures
For me, hiking is fun. A stroll in a charming city is fun. Relaxing on a lake with a beach is fun!
This is why I think a trip to Annecy is fun. And, to have fun—that’s another reason why you should visit Annecy!
There are many ways you can have fun in Annecy. You can have it everywhere, whether in the lake, mountains, or the skies above… Like, tandem paragliding.
However, if you want to try tandem paragliding, I suggest you have it in Chamonix instead. The view of Chamonix from the sky is unparalleled. You’ll see glaciers, Mont Blanc, alpine lakes, villages, and more.
Learn more from my article about Chamonix.
For Annecy, I think it’s better to focus on outdoor fun activities that Annecy has best—water sports!
You can try the water sports in Lake Annecy I mentioned previously.
Also, did you know that you can also have fun in the rivers flowing into Lake Annecy? You may find several services letting you try rafting, hydrospeed, or river fishing.
Indeed, you have a lot of options for outdoor fun in Annecy.
Although it may seem you can only find fun in Annecy on the lake, river, and mountains, believe it or not, you can also have fun even within Annecy’s historic center.
Actually, the fun starts within Annecy’s historic center.
As you stroll, you may see postcard-level scenery, satisfying all the escapism desires. Not only that! You may encounter artists performing amusing talents or discover fascinating little pieces of history.
After visiting Annecy’s historical center, the chances are, you’ll stumble upon the promenades and beaches in Lake Annecy. Breathtaking and pleasing views of the mountains and lakes await!
You can continue the stroll, but I suggest you make it more adventurous and fun.
How? By joining groups that tour and explore Lake Annecy’s shores using a Segway. Segway is basically a two-wheeled self-balancing transporter invented just recently.
The Segway tours in Annecy bring you to the most beautiful places along the shores of Lake Annecy like Jardins de l’Europe and La Pâquier. The route they follow ends in the Imperial Palace Hotel, a landmark manifesting gorgeous Belle Epoque Facade.
If you’re concerned that you don’t know how to use a Segway, worry not! The guides will teach you how. You may feel hesitant at first… But after you learn it and start moving on your own, it’s going to feel like crazy fun!
Learn more about this fun and exciting activity here.
Reason 9: Fun Festivals & Events
In some parts of the year, Annecy celebrates events that make it very reasonable to visit. When they occur, Annecy becomes more fun and amusing!
For each season of the year, there is an event in Annecy. Let’s start with the most spectacular festival: The Fête du Lac.
The Fête du Lac is a sensational pyrotechnic show over the lake, with music, lights, and water displays. It is considered a local tradition that historically commemorates the arrival of Napoleon III in Annecy.
It occurs on the first Saturday of August in Lake Annecy’s Bay of Albigny, lasting for 70 minutes. During the previous celebrations of Fête du Lac, more than 100,000 spectators joined the event, making it one of the largest fireworks shows in Europe.
Carcassonne, known for its preserved medieval city, also has fireworks during summer. Learn more about Carcassonne from this article.
If Fête du Lac is the festival in Annecy during summer, Retour des Alpages is the town’s event in autumn.
Retour des Alpages takes place on the second Saturday of October. During its celebration, you can witness the coming of the locals with their local products in the city’s old quarters in the traditional way.
It will seem like you’re being transported back into the past with all the traditional instruments, folk groups, craftsmen, and old trades everywhere in your sight.
The best part of Retour des Alpages? The parade of hundreds of animals from alpine pastures and folks in their ceremonial dress — all to introduce to you the crafts and traditions of the Savoy region.
During the last days of Winter, on the second weekend after Mardi Gras, Annecy lives up to its title, the Venice of the Alps.
The event is called Venetian Carnival. And during this time, Annecy becomes so vibrant and magical. This is because the people come out of the streets with masks and colorful, lavish attire.
Did you know? Aside from being the Venice of the Alps, Annecy is also recognized as the World Capital of Animated Films.
And during the last days of Spring, people come to Annecy to celebrate this “art” at the International Animation Film Festival. You can check the following festival schedule from the film festival’s official website.
During this festival, you will get a chance to get free open-air animated film shows or meet animated-film enthusiasts.
The festival (organization) promotes a wide range of animated shows, from Anime like Dragon Ball to weird children’s cartoons. If you’re a fan of these, I think you’ll really enjoy the festival.
Reason 10: Surrounded By More Attractions
Another reason why I think Annecy is worth visiting is the attractions surrounding Annecy. Because of them, you can expect:
- To have more variety of experiences in Annecy.
- You will have a lot more to see.
- That you surely won’t be bored even after you’ve seen the attractions in the historic center.
You can find several attractions near Annecy, but the two I suggest you try are Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard and Gorges du Fier.
I recommended Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard because it is a magical-looking castle perched on a scenic 200-meter tall hill. Although it dates back to the 10th century, most parts were already modified. Some were added in the 13th and 19th centuries.
Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard is not totally difficult to reach as it is only a 20-minute drive or 2 bus rides away (1-hour travel time, #60 and #V3) from Annecy.
Rumors say that Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard inspired Walt Disney for his Disneyland castles. However, some believe it is Germany’s Neuschwanstein.
But regardless of what people say, Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard is the castle to make your medieval movies/series fantasies a reality. It reminds me of Merlin, an Arthurian Legend 2008-2012 TV series I watched on Netflix.
For me, Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard has three fantastic things that make a trip to this castle worthwhile. First, its scenic location. The second is its library. Lastly, its architecture and furniture.
Thanks to its elevated location, the scenery from the castle are pretty incredible. You can clearly see the vistas, limestone-peak mountains, and Lake Annecy from Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard’s gardens.
The view is lovely but what can really impress you is its library. It is full of fascinating things straight out of Hogwarts.
Believe it or not, inside, you can find more than 12,000 books—all published before 1800. The books are ancient and seem to keep magic spells used by the witches and sorcerers. It also has ornate furniture that looks so magical.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
Watch out for the illuminations made by the monks during the medieval ages. They can give you goosebumps!
The castle has 105 rooms, each with antique furniture dated between the 16th and 19th centuries. The timber-framed interiors, paintings, and room decoration are admirable too. They should make you feel like you’re a nobleman for at least a day.
Here’s the official website of Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard for the visiting information.
If you are not afraid of heights and don’t have vertigo, consider adding Gorges du Fier to your itinerary to Annecy. Gorges du Fier is a mini canyon, a masterpiece of nature where you can find wonders between the rocks.
swipe the 360° image below to see more views
In Gorges du Fier, spectacular rock formations are observed from the wooden walkways attached to the canyon walls.
But if there’s something you can’t miss here, it is Mer des Rochers. It is the gorge’s vast labyrinth of fissured rock through which the river Fier gently flows.
The colors inside Gorges du Fier can sometimes be playful, especially on a bright sunny day. The rocks turn golden, and the small grass and mosses glow magically.
You may feel the magic more with the signboards telling the visitors the legends that echoed from the gorge.
The visit to Gorges du Fier usually lasts for 1 hour. To learn more, check Gorges du Fier’s official website here. The visiting information can be found on their website.
Helpful Links in Visiting Annecy
So that’s it! Those are my 10 reasons which explain why Annecy is worth visiting.
If in any way I convinced you to visit Annecy, and now you need accommodation, here’s a link which you can use to find your hotel.
Do you need help in going and exploring Annecy? Check this list of activities and guided tours for no-hassle trips to Annecy.
Either way, I hope you enjoy your next travels! Thank you for reading. 🙂
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