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  • Writer's pictureAmy Leggett

One of the Most Charming Towns in France...Annecy

Updated: Dec 7, 2022

Charming Old Town in Annecy, France with colorful old buildings, cobblestone streets, mountain views and the canal making it the "Venice of the Alps"
Annecy, France-Old Town

I saw so many amazing places and incredible sights on my two week journey through the Alps, but one place in particular just touched my soul and made a huge impact on me. That place was Annecy, France. Annecy is a small alpine town in southeastern France (right by the border with Switzerland) that is nestled in the French Alps and situated right on Lac d'Annecy. For planning purposes, Annecy is about 40 minutes drive from Geneva, Switzerland; an hour and ten minute drive from Chamonix-Mont Blanc; and accessible by train from Paris.

Annecy is called the "Venice of the Alps" because of the canal that winds through the center of the old town. From the moment I got off the bus, I was mesmerized by the scenery and the vibe of this place. I was immediately enchanted by the cobblestone streets; the full, colorful flower boxes; and the pastel colored buildings that line the canal in the Vielle Ville ("Old Town"). Not to mention the crystal blue water of Lac d'Annecy and magnificence of the surrounding mountain peaks of the French Alps. I had never heard of Annecy before my trip, but now I am contemplating getting a tourist visa and living in Annecy for an extended period! That's how much I loved it!

Best Things to Do In Annecy:

  • Stroll around Old Town and take in the sights and sounds of the area. There are frame-worthy pictures to be taken around every corner. You will especially want to snap a photo in front of Palais de I'lle, the historic turret that divides the River Thiou into two canals. It was built in the 12th century and is one of France's most photographed locations! The streets are lined with charming cafés and coffee shops, boutique stores and historic architecture. You feel like you have gone back in time and entered into the setting of a romance novel! I loved just wandering around and listening to the mixture of languages being spoken. But I especially love to listen to the magical sound of the French language. It is my goal to learn how to speak fluent French at some point.

Selfie in front of one of the most photographed spots in France!
Palais de I'lle in Annecy, France
  • If you are in Annecy on a Tuesday, Friday or Sunday morning, you are very lucky! There is an open air market on these days selling fresh cheeses, meats, vegetables and fruits. I even picked up freshly made specialty Salted Carmel/Almond Nougat (which I ate before snapping a photo for this blog...oops!). You can often have samples of the cheeses and meats before you purchase. One cheese that is special to the area is Reblochan De Savoie. You have to sample it or eat a dish made with it (see below). It is delicious! You can also get Raclette, a semi-hard cow's milk cheese that is melted on an open fire for the best cheese fondue. Yum! You can purchase these cheeses in a vacuum packed bag so that you can bring it back home with you on the plane. Make sure to get to the market early because it closes down at 1:00.

  • Take a cruise on Lake Annecy (or Lac d'Annecy if you want to sound like a local). Lake Annecy is the third largest lake in France and has the honor of being the cleanest lake in Europe! You can see the evidence in the pictures below. There are several cruise options varying in length of time, boat size and whether or not you get a meal. We opted for the short one hour commentary cruise (although commentary was only in French so I didn't get the full experience). Regardless, the views were amazing and it was fun to get out on the water on a beautiful day.

  • Check out the Château d'Annecy, a castle that sits on the hill above the Old Town. There is a steep walk up from the center of Old Town or you can reach it by car. The castle now hosts a museum with local sculpture and art and a nature exhibit about animals and fish native to the area. There are also great views from the top of the hill. I didn't have time to go inside to the museum, but it is 5 Euro for adults and kids under 12 are free.

  • Learn to Paraglide! I did not do this on this quick visit, but would seriously consider it if I do return for an extended stay. Apparently Annecy is the most famous paragliding site in Europe. I can only imagine the views from above as you set off from a peak in the Alps over the crystal blue Lake Annecy! Oh my!

  • I left several things on my bucket list for my eventual return to this beautiful town! I still need to check out the Jardins de l'Europe (a large park right next to the lake with beautiful scenery and art sculptures), bike around the lake, lounge on the beaches, visit the Castle Museum, and so much more. Oh yeah, and as I said, I want to become fluent in French! I figure immersion in the culture for a month or two is the best way to accomplish that.

Favorite Local Food in Annecy:

One thing there is no shortage of in Europe is good food and Annecy is no exception! Annecy has several local dishes that you have to try when you visit. Our tour guide recommended that we try Tartiflette which is a dish using the local Reblochon cheese mentioned above with potatoes, lardons and onions. It is a signature dish for Annecy. Of course I took her suggestion (I mean, she is the expert!) and found a quaint little cafe, Le Beau Soleil, to try it out. Le Beau Soleil sits alongside the canal and had lovely ambiance for my relaxing lunch. You can find the menu here (but you may have to hit the Google translation button to view it in English). I ordered the Tartiflette des Aravis (which is the Tartitflette dish with bacon...which was actually just little bits of ham), a fresh salad and a glass of white wine. It was literally one of the most delicious meals of my whole trip! C'est très magnifique!

If you don't go for the Tartiflette, another great option is to order Raclette fondue which is available almost everywhere. Raclette is a popular meal in Switzerland and France and you must try it at least once on your journey through the Alps. But my guess is you will have it more than one time because it is that good!

After walking off my fullness from the Tartiflette, of course I had to sample the ice cream at Le Glacier des Alpes. It is considered to be one of the best ice cream shops in France! They have over 45 flavors so it is hard to choose (even for the most decisive), but I don't think you can go wrong with whatever choice you make. Again, there is no photo because I was too excited to begin enjoying my cone!

I hope you can feel my love and enthusiasm for this charming little town. I was so unexpectedly surprised by the area and can't wait to go back! I definitely left my heart in Annecy. Who knows, maybe by the time you are planning your trip I will be living there and speaking fluent French so I can be your personal tour guide! Au Revoir!


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