Tired of visiting Paris in France ? Not a big fan of big cities such as Marseille or Lyon ? We have found the perfect alternative – a week-end in Annecy – between a small town with an astonishing emerald lake view and nature all around the area with absolutely gorgeous mountains view and escapades in Rhône-Alpes.
How to go to Annecy
Go to Annecy by Train
Annecy is very easy to access by train. You have:
- TGV (high-speed train) directly from Paris
- TER (regional train) from Lyon, Valence, Grenoble, Chambéry and Chamonix.
French train are pretty good and relatively cheap (except TGV). Once you arrive at the trainstation, you have several options to reach your final destination:
- Bike rental
- Bus for transfer
- Car rental
We love to travel in France by train, but in Annecy and in the Alps, it is best if you have a car available to visit the area!
Go to Annecy by car
Several highways and roads lead to Annecy. You should download Waze. Most of France roads are in perfect conditions, there is absolutely no particular difficulty to drive to Annecy from anywhere in France.
Annecy by plane
Annecy does not really have its own airport, except for private jet. If you want to fly to Annecy, your main choices are:
- Geneva airport, about 50 km away
- Lyon Saint-Exupery at 120 km
From both of those airports, you can then take a train or buses directly to Annecy.
What to do in Annecy
Walk along the lake
We were visiting Annecy and we started with a quick walk along the lake. There is no specific itinerary but we would advice the one as follows, especially if you spend only 1 day in Annecy or a short week-end:
- Start in the old city, take the Canal de Vassé and reach le Pont des Amours
- Turn on the left and walk along the lake along the rental boats until you reach the Imperial Palace (You can even walk until the Plage d’Albigny, 200 meters away)
- Go back all the way and have a look at the Canal de Vassé (most probably with a different light and water color!)
- Go on along the lake until the Jardins de l’Europe. Don’t miss on the way the artificial Swans island. Walk all the way until you reach the end of Quai Napoléon III.
It is possible to walk all the way around the lake during 43 kilometers. The banks and the path have been arranged to make it super easy to cycle or walk around the lake without difficulties. We have driven around the lake and it must be a pretty nice walk with diverse landscapes. Count approximately 10 hours to be back at your starting point. You can check here for a detailed map and all the needed informations for this walk.
Discover the Old city
If you have started with a walk around the lake and have ended up on the Quai Napoléon III, you will be at the perfect spot to start to discover the old city of Annecy.
Along the banks, you will first see the Palais de l’Ile which has been a palace, a jail, a court and is now a museum, the Morens bridge, the Lambert house and many canals. Do not hesitate to lost yourself in the small streets of the old town ! You can end up walking up to the Castle, where you will have a nice view over the roofs of the old town.
In our opinion, to spend only one day to discover Annecy is more than enough as once you have seen the lake and the old town, there is not much more to do. You will need your car to explore the nature around the lake !
Do some local shopping
For yourself or to bring back a gift, Annecy will have a lot to offer ! If you are into wine, you can choose a bottle of white wine from Savoie such as a bottle of Apremont, perfect with a cheese fondue.
While we were walking around, we have found two very nice concept stores with great gift ideas and not too expensive prices: Dupont Dupont – French designers only (6 rue de la poste, 74 000 Annecy) and Biutiful (4 bis rue de la Poste, 74 000 Annecy)
Rent a pedalo or motor boat
Due to Covid 19 situation (and probably to the rain as well), all the boats and pedalos rentals were closed. We have been told it’s great to rent a boat without licence to sail on the lake and spend few hours away from the tourists. Next time we will definitely rent one !
If you prefer, pedalos and padles are also available to rent. You will find many shops on the lake, just walk around and choose your favorite one !
Hiking around Annecy
We had planned lots of hikes during our week in Annecy, even short ones during our evening after a day of work. Unfortunately, we did only one, on our only sunny day, and we were so tired after our week there we stopped it in the middle ! Not our proudest moment, but sometimes you need to have some rest !
There were so many recommended hikes around the lakes, you will find what you are looking for ! You can check Annecy’s websites with many options depending on what you are looking for: with children, hard ones, flat ones around the lake….
Where to eat in Annecy
La Bicyclette Rose
With François, we have been so disappointed with brunches, especially in Paris and London, where it’s so overpriced for so low quality and so less food, we had decided we would just stop going. But reading some reviews about la Bicyclette Rose, I knew we had to try, and for once, what a good idea ! We have chosen the brunch formula. Everything was delicious and made with local products. Count 22 euros for the (very big) brunch formula. The restaurant is open all day long until 6pm and you can have some tartines, salads or lunch dishes as well. The staff was very kind and helpful. You really need to go !
Yum ! Delicious freshly made pastas at la Fabbrica ! Don’t forget to ask the waiter for an italian red wine to pair your perfect dish. Many options including vegetarian ones, the hardest part is to choose.
We had planned to have a Michellin star dinner. Unfortunately everything was still closed due to the coronavirus. So we found Aromatik (5 rue Collège Chapuisien 74000 Annecy), a fine -but chill- dining with some gourmet menu. Very nice surprise and very decent price ! Our advice: choose the menu Découverte (33 euros per person without wine). Excellent foie gras, beef and tartelette !
Fondue at le Freti
We have been looking for quite a while now for a good restaurant where to eat fondue or raclette but we have came to the conclusion, it’s never as good as the one you make at home. Le Freti remains a good options with some interesting choices for the fondues, such as the Morilles fondue one. Not exceptional, but decent with some good wines on the menu and excellent cold meats. The terrace is really nice, in the old town, perfect to finish your day in Annecy.
Restaurants on our list in Annecy
Still on our list for our next time to Annecy as they were closed at that time: La Ciboulette and Black Bass.
Where to sleep for a week-end in Annecy
We chose to rent an Airbnb, as we were in Annecy for work and needed at least a table for us two to work. If you have a car, we would recommend not to sleep in Annecy but in a small village around the lake: less expensive, less traffic, more nature and probably a nicer view. We stayed at Céline’s place in Lathuile and everything was great ! The only thing was the weather, so we did not have the chance to experience the super cute garden.
For work, we also slept one night in Annecy itself. You can find a decent flat for 4 people (one bedroom and one sofa bed) for 65 euros per night, but do not expect much from the view or the neigborhood. Definitely not our best experience !
What to bring to Annecy:
The sun has played hide and seek with us for an entire week… so we used all of these and we would recommend you to bring all the following items, just in case…
- Rain coat
Few facts about Annecy
Dimensions of Annecy Lake
Annecy Lake is 14.6km long and 3.2 km wide at its maximum, totalling a surface of 27.59 sq. km. It has an average depth of 41m and a maximum depth of 82, summing up in a volume of 1,124.5 million cubic metres of water.
Annecy Lake is one of the biggest lake of France after Lake Leman, Lake Bourget and Lac de Serre-Poncon.
Like Amsterdam is the Venice of the North, Annecy is the Venice of the Alps. A name well-deserved through his numero canals and its beautiful lake.
Annecy is also known as the Pearl of French Alps.
We have really loved Annecy, especially the lake area, of course. The color of the water was insane and changing during the day, depending on the sun and clouds, but always so beautiful.
We have found the area a little too built though, with too many restaurants, buildings and houses, and we were expecting something a little more nature than what it was. It was a great week-end in a really beautiful area and we enjoyed every moment of it ! We are super difficult in food, but we were really happy in Annecy and cannot wait to go back, hopefully with a better weather this time !
Let us know if you have been to Annecy or if you plan to go, and please share your tips and favourites places !