Before Annecy, I didn’t even know of Annecy. We had originally booked a flight out of Nice to go back to London for a week however during a quick late night google of day trips from Nice, I came across a completely irrelevant article gushing about Annecy and Colmar. The more I read about the towns, the more I wanted to explore these beautiful places. One thing led to another and we spontaneously cancelled our flight to London and decided to swap it for a trip up the eastern region of France, starting with this little alpine town, Annecy.
Whilst full of tourists when we visited, Annecy (& Colmar) are still relatively unknown, undiscovered towns compared to the many other tourist packed cities in France. In Annecy, there’s nothing like three hours lines to visit any attraction here, for it is a small town after all with just a handful of streets. However it is this small town nature and its completely magical setting – sitting at the mouth of Lake Annecy and the French alps, with its streets lining the many canals – that completely captures and enchants those who come by to visit.
For a town that’s comparable to the size of a couple of arrondissements in Paris, Annecy packs in a lot of beauty in a very small space. The general feel of town makes me think of a french version of Venice with its colourful backdrop situated above its countless canals, sitting in the geographical setting of Lucerne, surrounded by lake and mountains.
One of the main attractions in Annecy is the Palais de l’Isle (the triangular building you see above) which once was home to a castle, courthouse, mint and prison.
Annecy is also home to one of France’s shortest river – Le Thiou, which opens up to Lake Annecy after just 3.5ish kilometres. Whilst only a few kms long, Le Thiou’s overhanging streets and endless row boats lining the river makes for one beautiful setting, especially come Autumn when the leaves start to turn yellow. It’s so hard to pick favourites when it comes to Annecy but the below is one of my favourite spots in this magical place..
How incredible is it?! The bridge at the end of the river, where Le Thiou opens up to Lake Annecy, is known as Pont des Amours (or Love Bridge). It is a magical little spot where legend says that anyone you kiss might just be with you forever!
If you head towards Lake Annecy, you’ll be greeted with some of the clearest waters of France, as well as the opportunity to take the ferry across the sea to visit some of the other towns that sit on the lake. Talloires and Menthon Saint Bernard are popular options. Or, hire a pedal boat like we did and attempt to pedal your way across!
If you’re in Annecy on a Sunday, don’t forget to pop by the weekly market which only runs on this day. There’s heaps of fresh fruit and veges if you want to stock up your apartment fridge and there’s also hot food and baguettes (and cheese and nougat!) if you just want to come grab some lunch.
A cafe we loved was L’original. It’s on the main street of Annecy and serves some super mouthwatering stuff. And if you’re craving pizza (we always seem to!), then Little Italy which is just a couple of shops down will have you covered for dinner. However, my most favourite eatery in Annecy would have to be this chance discovery by the name of Pauvert Traiteur. It’s a delicatessen and although it was not listed on TripAdvisor, it was super popular and packed with locals ordering food every morning. The system to order can be a little confusing at first and you’re going to need your ‘bonjour, un *attempt at reading the food label* s’il vous plait’ and ‘merci’ here (thanks, high school french) but every minute spent waiting in line and every string of broken French spoken is so worth it because they have a crazy crazy selection of salads, meats, bakery goods and snacks! You guys have to visit this deli!
Of course, don’t forget to stop at a boulangerie along the way & pick up a gelato too. Glacier (gelato) stores line the main street like no tomorrow – I’m pretty sure I counted about 8 in the space of about 10 shops as we walked down the street!
Annecy definitely is having its fair share of tourists lately and I’m sure it will only become more and more popular as more people start to hear about and visit the Haute-Savoie area, so be sure to put it on your list ASAP. There are so many things to love about Annecy. It’s such a majestic little place filled with flower beds every where you can fit a flower bed, canals, a river, a lake and sitting right on the edge of the Alps. The atmosphere is quiet but buzzing. It’s romantic and enchanting and a little like something out of a fairytale story. Small enough to call your own, but big enough to provide a few days worth of exploration and wonder. I loved it here so much.. you really have to visit this enchanting town in France!
Photography: Thomas Debono & I