Annecy is the capital of the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region of southeastern France. It is located on the north shore of Lake Annecy, 35 km south of Geneva. Nicknamed the “Pearl of the French Alps” in Raoul Blanchard’s monograph describing its location between a lake and mountains, the city has a wonderful lakeside location and amazing view of the Alps. The city is also called “Venice of the Alps”, due to the idyllic canals and the river Thiu, which flows through the old town. Switching from the counts of Geneva’s dwelling in the 13th century, to the counts of Savoy’s in the 14th century, the city became Savoy’s capital in 1434 during the Genevois-Nemours prerogative until 1659. The annexation of Savoy merged the city with France in 1860.
The best time in our opinion to visit the city is on a Sunday morning when the city rests from its daily life and welcomes its visitors. In this article, we present six reasons why a Sunday morning walk in Annecy is something you will never forget.
Watersports at Lake Annecy : Lake Annecy is the third-largest lake in France. It is known as the cleanest lake in Europe, because of strict environmental regulations introduced in the 1960s. It is a popular destination for swimming and watersports. There are many sandy and grassy beaches along the lake suitable for swimming during the summer and also numerous choices for watersports. The most popular are paddle boarding, pedal boats and boat rentals.
Lover’s Bridge (Pont des Amours) and Le Paquier : Lover’s Bridge, built around 1906 to replace an older one, is a magnificent iron bridge that connects, over the city’s main canal, two open gardens (Jardins de l’Europe and Le Paquier) on the lake’s shore. Legend has it that if two people kiss in the middle of the bridge, their love will never end (and visitors seem to believe so judging by the padlocks left on the bridge). At the same time, Le Paquier at the one end of the bridge is a big free lawn located next to the lake and the perfect spot for leisurely lying on the grass during the afternoon with a cold drink in your hand.
Palais de l’Ile and Chateau d’Annecy : Palais de l’Isle is the most famous building in Annecy and probalby one of the most photographed sights in France. The palace, built in the 12th century, has a facade that looks like the prow of a ship and divides Thiou River into two canals. The building was once a prison, and today hosts exhibits of local architecture and history. Chateau d’Annecy (Annecy Castle) on the other hand dominates the skyline of the Old Town. The Castle was the residence of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours, and is listed as a historic monument by the French State. Today, it houses the Regional Observatory of the Alpine Lakes and Annecy’s museum of modern art.
Annecy’s Old Town : Despite its small size, the Vieille Ville (Old Town) is an unforgettable place to stroll, especially during the summer months. The gates, the arches, the backdoors to small and secret streets, and the picturesque squares hide small surprises behind every corner. At the same time, small unique traditional shops such as the book shop La Procure (3 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau), the flower shop J.J.Humblot (1 Rue Filaterie) (considered by some to be the most beautiful florist shop in the world), and the pastry shop Meyer Le Chocolatier Annecy (4 Place Saint-Francois de Sales) turn walking into a unique experience.
Thiou River and its canals : Thiou River is considered one of the shortest rivers in France. Besides its size, which is approximately 3,5 km, it has canals which give Annecy its nickname “Venice of the Alps”. It crosses the Old Town and creates unforgettable images with its flowered bridges and peaceful charm. But also the River played a significant role in the development of the city in the 19th century by providing the necessary energy to the industries that developed during that period.
Annecy farmers’ market : In the heart of the Old Town, along Rue Sainte Claire and the nearby streets, browse around the stalls at this unique local market. On Tuesdays, local products are on sale, while on Fridays and Sundays, the market is bigger, with manufactured and textile goods. At the stalls you could buy and taste the well-known local cheeses Savoie Reblochon and Abondance, and also the tasty biscuit de Savoie. Biscuit is actually a very light sponge cake. Its origin goes way back to the 14th century when the Count Amadeus VI of Savoy asked his patissier to make a cake as light as feather.
After a long day at Annecy the best place to relax is Savoie Bar (1 Place Saint-Francois de Sales) opposite Palais de l’Ile and a favourite of the locals. At Savoie Bar you can try the local dish tartiflette, made with potatoes and the local cheese Reblochon.
Annecy located in the Alps is the ideal place for a summer city break. With its wonderful scenery, the various activities at the lake, and a photogenic old town, it is a place you must put on your bucket list.