10 Things to Do in Annecy in a Day

What is Annecy Most Famous For?

    Annecy is a lovely Alpine city sometimes called the “Venice of the Alps” because of the river and canal that pass through its old town. Surrounded by mountains and located on the banks of a 27 sq km lake of the same name, Annecy is a popular all-year-round holiday destination. Staying in Annecy during winter places you minutes away from a choice of ski resorts and, during summer, a wide range of outdoor activities are available in the area.

    Besides sporting activities, Annecy Old Town is the main centre of interest in the city. This charming medieval pedestrian area hosts attractions like St. Peter’s Cathedral, museums, and lively markets. Visiting Annecy also gives you the chance to discover excellent cheeses and wines. In short, it’s a great destination for your next trip to France.

    1

    Start the day at Place Georges Volland

    Take in the atmosphere of Annecy

    Located on the west side of Annecy Old Town, the Place Georges Volland is a good spot for first timers to take in the atmosphere of the city. Grab a box of chocolates at Philippe Rigollot’s pastry shop before taking a seat at the Café de la Place. Watch people passing by, surrounded by the warmly coloured typical old houses of this Alpine region. Place Georges Volland is especially busy on Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays, as the market is held on these days from 7am to 1pm all through the Old Town.

    Location: Near the intersection of Rue de la République and Rue Sainte-Claire in Annecy Old Town

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    2

    Explore Annecy Old Town

    Take a stroll in the narrow lanes of ‘the Venice of Savoie’

    Annecy Old Town offers you a stroll into history. Settled on the banks of Lake Annecy and crossed by the Thiou River and the Vassé Canal, it features colourful Piedmontese-style buildings and notable structures like the Palais de l’Île, a 12th century prison-castle converted into a museum. Due to the narrowness of the lanes, most of the Old Town is pedestrianised. Here, you’ll find a range of quaint bars, restaurants and boutiques nestled in arcaded streets and alleys.

    Location: On both banks of the Thiou River, near to its mouth

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    3

    Enjoy yourself at Lake Annecy

    Swim in one of the cleanest lakes in Europe

    Known as one of the cleanest lakes in Europe, thanks to a strict environmental regulation dating back to the ‘60s, Lake Annecy offers you a good choice of beaches to laze and suntan on, as well as nautical activities to enjoy. The 2 closest public beaches to the city are Plage d’Albigny and Plage des Marquisats. Bordered by large grass areas and hosting snack bars and restaurants, these 2 beaches are great places to take a break with children, especially as they have dedicated facilities for young ones.

    Location: Lake Annecy (it’s kind of hard to miss it…)

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    4

    Visit Annecy Castle

    Spend time in the Museum of Alpine Popular Art

    Built between the 12th and 16th century, Annecy Castle is a French Historical Monument that now hosts the Museum of Alpine Popular Art, a museum about the lake that features an aquarium and temporary art exhibitions. The rotating modern art displays in such an old settings gives a pleasant timeless feeling. Roam the rooms and corridors of the castle and do not miss the terrace, which offers a splendid panoramic view of Annecy Old Town and the lake.

    Location: To the south of Annecy Old Town

    Open: Wednesday-Sunday from 10am to 12pm and from 2pm to 5pm, closed on Mondays and Tuesdays

    Phone: +33 (0)4 50 33 87 30

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    5

    Hike at the Gorges du Fier

    Take a walk along one of the natural wonders of the Alps

    Located just a 15-minute drive west of Annecy Old Town, the Gorges du Fier is a canyon carved through the rocky terrain by the Fier River. One of the oldest tourist sites in the Alps, it features a suspended footbridge built in 1869, which allows you to walk in the narrow gorge, right above the river. The trail is not too challenging and you can spot and photograph giant’s kettles and la Mer des Rochers (the Sea of Rocks), composed of boulders of all sizes and shapes. It’s best to wear strong walking shoes and to go in the morning to fully enjoy this hike.

    Location: 10 km west of Annecy Old Town

    Phone: +33 (0)4 50 46 23 07

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    photo by NonoSystemPhoto (CC0 1.0) modified

    6

    Feast on cheese and freshwater fish

    Discover the local food specialities

    Annecy should be on your bucket list if you’re a cheese lover. Savoie and Haute-Savoie are 2 French departments reputed for their cheeses, which include Emmental, Reblochon, and Tomme de Savoie, just to name a few that you can enjoy in Annecy. Here, Raclette – melted cheese served with cured ham, boiled potatoes, pickles onions and gherkins – is a must-try. Annecy Lake also provides fresh trout and perch, 2 delicious freshwater fish species that can be found in most restaurants of the region. You can wash down these local specialities with a Chignin or a Roussette, the finest famous wines from the region.

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    photo by Faldrian. (CC BY-SA 4.0) modified

    7

    Must-See: Annecy Basilica

    Pay a visit to the Church of Visitation

    Dedicated to and housing relics of Saint-François de Sales and Saint-Jeanne de Chantal, the patron saints of Annecy, the Basilica of Visitation sits a stroll south of the Old Town. Built in 1930, in a baroque style, it’s made of white stone and features beautiful large stained glass windows, lavish decoration and printed information about the 2 saints buried here. The highlight of the Basilica is the 72-metre-tall bell tower, which offers breathtaking views of Annecy and the lake.

    Location: 800 metres south of the Old Town

    Open: Daily from 7am to 12pm and from 2pm to 7pm

    Phone: +33 (0)4 50 45 22 76

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    8

    Challenge yourself with extreme sports

    Experience thrilling outdoor activities

    The mountainous area around Annecy and the lake it sits next to provide a great playground of thrilling outdoor activities. You can go paragliding, gorge walking, mountain biking and white water rafting, just to name a few. Many companies offer these exciting sporting activities in the area. Just get to the Lake Annecy Tourist Office on Rue Jean Jaurès to get further info on the many possibilities you have to challenge yourself in a safe and fun way around Annecy.

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    9

    Dine in the Old Town

    Check some of the best restaurants in Annecy Old Town

    Annecy Old Town concentrates a cool scene of dining venues at which you can sample local food in a quaint vintage environment. Take your pick of the most recommended restaurants in the Old Town: Le Fréti serves traditional food in a classic Savoyan décor on Rue Sainte-Claire. Une Autre Histoire serves fusion cuisine featuring seasonal and local ingredients in a splendid bohemian setting on Rue Royale. l’Auberge de Savoie specialises in classic French gastronomic dishes in a contemporary-style décor on Place Saint-François de Sales.

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    10

    End the day on the banks of Lake Annecy

    Have a drink in the Old Town before to go to dance on the lakeside

    After dark, Annecy Old Town is a pleasant area to hang around for a drink or 2. Try La Queue du Coq, a cool cocktail bar located on Rue Vaugelas, or La Cave, a decently priced wine bar hidden in Passage des Échoppes. If you want to party a bit more seriously, you can head to the banks of Lake Annecy. Pop Plage is a modern discotheque. It’s part of La Plage de l’Impérial, a complex that includes a hotel, casino, restaurants, and nautical activities.

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    Stephan Audiger | Compulsive Traveller

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