Annecy is located in the Rhône-Alpes region and is considered one of the most beautiful cities in France. With pieces of classical architecture inspired by Italy, coblestone streets with bright colors of flowers, plants and trees, and beautiful views of Lake Annecy, this city attracts visitors from all over the world, therefore, this place is also known as a miniature Venice. If you are looking for a romantic place to travel to in France, Annecy is the perfect choice.
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So, is Annecy worth visiting, how to visit Annecy, what to do in Annecy and how to plan a budget trip to Annecy for the first-time perfectly? Let’s check out our Annecy travel blog (Annecy blog) with the fullest Annecy travel guide (guide to Annecy, Annecy tourist guide, Annecy city guide, Annecy guide) from how to get to Annecy, best places to visit, best time to come, what to eat as well as top things to do in Annecy to help you maximize your trip as follows!
I also just found out about Annecy not too long ago through vlogs about French tourism, and I was fascinated and determined to go there because Annecy’s scenery was so beautiful and impressive, I immediately added it in my plan without a moment’s hesitation.
Overview of Annecy (#annecy travel blog)
The town of Annecy is a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region, lying on the lake of the same name, is a mountain town in the Southeastern of France, more than 35 km south of Geneva, 300 km southeast of Paris. Annecy is nestled at the northern end of Lake Annecy, which is the intersection of Italy, Switzerland and France with an area of 66.94 km2 and a population of more than 483,000 people. The town of Annecy was built by the Romans in 50 BC, then a part of Geneve, and then owned, built and managed by the French to this day.
The tourist part of the town is divided into two spaces with relatively contrasting styles. The old town, located at the foot of Annecy castle, where the Thiou river empties into the lake, with small medieval-built streets running along the water feels like a miniature Venice. Because of that, Annecy is also known as “The Venice of the Alps – La Venise des Alpes”. But if there is a twin brother, perhaps the brotherhood with Annecy is not Venice. Annecy has an airy look like Lucerne, it converges the most typical details for a typical Swiss city: The long quiet old streets, the clear blue lake surface, with the snowy mountains in the distance. At the end of the background, the sky gradually appeared after the fog melted in the sun.
In addition to the capital Paris, the poetic city of Nice or the wine city of Bordeaux has been famous for a long time, the towns in the Southeast of France such as the town of Annecy are also places worth saving on the tourist map and should take time to visit once in your life, so you won’t regret it.
An invaluable treasure that the former leaders of Annecy have left for posterity is the garden on the peninsula les Jardins de l’Europe (Gardens of Europe) and the park le Paquier, a green space of more than 7 hectares close to the lake, where the love bridge “Pon des Amours” and the berths on the Vassé canal in four seasons are both the most photogenic and romantic spots in France.
Annecy is a city that can be briefly visited for just a few hours. But if you have a little more time, enjoy the city’s most precious thing, a wonderfully clear, fresh air and atmosphere. Maybe from Annecy as a starting point for picnic trips to discover the wonderful nature around. Just out of the center, away from the crowd, travelers will feel a completely different Annecy trip. Nature around Annecy all four seasons Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter.
From Annecy only about 20 minutes by car, along the provincial road D41 has reached the top of Semnoz, skiing in winter, in summer, having a picnic to explore the North of the Alps. If you like swimming in the lake, there are two bathing spots, Marquisats and Albigny, open for free. The water is not warm, but in the summer when the water temperature is more than 20°C, I can take a bath and it is especially clean. Recently moved to Lyon, where it is just over an hour by car from Annecy, Annecy will definitely be our familiar destination on weekends when we need to change the wind.
What season of the year should you go to Annecy? (#annecy blog)
One of the best things about Annecy Town is the climate. The average temperature in April is about 15 degrees Celsius while the temperature from June to August is about 24-26 degrees Celsius, which is extremely cool and pleasant.
I thought that just go to Annecy, every season is beautiful. Like me, I chose autumn, the weather will be a bit cold, romantic autumn leaves. But I can see some videos, I highly recommend you to go in the summer, about June to August. At this time it is a bit hot but the sun is very beautiful although it may be crowded with tourists but you will be enjoy bathing and experience water sports activities on the lake, because Lake Annecy is really beautiful and clear water. The time I went at the end of September was autumn and it was cold along with cloudy and rainy so I couldn’t go to the lake to bathe, I kept regretting.
For movie lovers, you must definitely attend the Annecy International Animated Film Festival which takes place within a week in June here. This will definitely be an interesting experience that you will never forget.
If you come in time for the Carnaval festival, you will be very lucky to experience the multicultural and very vibrant colors in this small town of Annecy. Usually spring and summer are the seasons of the festivals, each year there will be different themes for everyone to participate in without fear of being bored.
Summer in France is the season of cultural festivals! Each tourist destination organizes an event in the summer, so that tourists, in addition to relaxing, always have an opportunity to celebrate. In Annecy, an event is held called “Lake Festival – La fete du lac”, a fireworks display combined with water music shot up from the surface of Lake Annecy. The event is held every year on the first Saturday of August. Every year, nearly 200,000 visitors flock to visit Annecy on this day, if you are afraid of crowds, you should avoid them, and if you want to see the excitement, you should book train tickets early, as well as register to buy tickets early to have a good seat. Depending on whether the seats are good or bad, the ticket price for the event ranges from €3 to €38. Website and link to buy tickets.
How to get to Annoy? (#annecy travel guide)
The nearest international airport to Annecy is Geneva airport (IATA code: GVA), located more than 40 km from Annecy, it takes about 40 minutes by car. Right at the airport, there is a regional bus of Transdev Haute Savoie (www.transdevhautesavoie.com), the route number T72 to go directly to Annecy. The low-cost carrier easyJet uses the airport as its main hub for the Swiss market. It is also easyJet’s second largest hub in Europe after London-Gatwick. One-way bus fare is around €10.5/person. You can also use this bus to go from Annecy to the center of Geneva.
In addition, it is also possible to use Lyon-Saint-Exupéry airport (IATA code: LYS), about 120km from Annecy. Both by car and by bus, it takes an hour and a half to get from the airport to Annecy. Ouibus (ouibus.com) currently operates a bus route from Lyon airport to Annecy. The blablacar bus company (www.blablacar.fr/bus) currently operates a bus route from Lyon airport to Annecy. The average bus ticket price for early purchase is about €12. About 6 bus trips are operated every day, every two hours there is a connection between the airport and Annecy.
By car (#annecy travel blog)
Annecy has a fairly central location, close to the Swiss border, only about 30km from the border gate on the outskirts of Geneva. The city is also located at the gateway of the road from the plains leading up to the most famous French ski resorts in the Alps. Annecy travel can be easily combined with many other destinations around the French Rhône-Alpes region. Or on the way from France to Switzerland or Italy and vice versa. Here are some spots about an hour’s drive from Annecy:
- Lyon: it takes 1 and a half hours
- Grenoble: 1 hour driving
- Yvoire village: 50 minutes away
- Chamonix – Mont Blanc: it takes more than an hour
- Geneva: it takes about 40 minutes
Parking in Annecy
I usually park at rue des Marquisats. On this street that runs around the lake, there are five free parking lots that on summer days it’s not easy to find one. From there, just go along the lake, past the beach and then the marina to get to the city center.
Free parking on rue des Marquisats:
- Parking Stade Nautique (200 lots) 29 rue des Marquisats, 74000 Annecy (GPS: 45.8968539, 6.1319106).
- Parking Base Nautique (77 lots) 31 rue des Marquisats, 74000 Annecy (GPS: 45.8954509, 6.1332255).
- Parking Tillier (33 lots) 7 Chemin de Tillier, 74000 Annecy (GPS: 45.8947519, 6.1332295).
- Parking Marquisats (217 seats) 54 rue des Marquisats, 74000 Annecy (GPS: 45.8929049, 6.1361285).
- Parking Colmyr (140 lots) 1 Chemin de Colmyr, 74000 Annecy (GPS: 45.8911667, 6.136978).
There are high-speed trains that run directly from Paris to Annecy. It takes nearly 4 hours to get from the capital to Annecy because the last part, the train runs at normal speed. However, this is still the most convenient and comfortable (though not the cheapest) way to get from Paris to Annecy. Annecy station as written above is about 500 meters from the center of the old town, from here you can walk to most of the main attractions. You can refer to the travel time by train from Annecy to some other destinations in the region. Usually taking the train is more expensive and slower than taking the bus:
- Paris: it takes 3 hours and 40 minutes
- Lyon : it takes 2 hours
- Grenoble : it takes 1 hour 40 minutes
- Geneva: it takes about an hour and a half
Getting Annecy from Paris
From Paris, you can depart from the central train station and it takes 4 hours to reach Annecy town.
I booked Trenitalia’s train tickets on Thetrainline.com with a loss of about 30EUR/person round trip. Compared to inOui, Trenitalia is much happier because there is a table for reading, eating, comfortable legroom, luggage is stored on the seat, and inOui has to leave luggage at the top or bottom of the car, I was warned to watch the luggage by itself because it is easy to get stolen, so taking inOui is also quite stressful.
Annecy is located about 300 km southeast of Paris, I started at Gare de Lyon, Paris took the train straight to Lyon Part Dieu, Lyon took 2 hours, from there I took the flixbus to go for more than 1 hour to arrive in Annecy. I went in late autumn, so it was raining, it was quite inconvenient to move, because the luggage was bulky, it was raining and traveling. It is best to go in the summer.
On the way, the weather turned me quite dizzy, it was raining and ran for a while, then the sun was shining, then the dark clouds came again and then continued to rain… when I arrived at Gare d’Annecy, it was sunny and rain. Even when I was about to leave Annecy, when I went to the station to get a ticket, it rained heavily, but about 20 minutes later when I got on the bus to leave town, it was sunny again like it had never rained!!
How to buy cheap train tickets in France?
- French Railways sells tickets according to the First Come, First Served strategy. Those who buy tickets early will get cheap tickets, and when there are fewer tickets, the price will increase. For long-haul routes, tickets are on sale 3 months before departure time and buying at that time is the cheapest. Cheap tickets called Prem’s cost about 1/3 of the full price. This type of ticket is still exchangeable like a normal ticket. Exchange one month in advance for free, exchange at least three days before departure costs €5, exchange on the same day as the departure date costs €15. But if you have a last-minute emergency and you don’t want to pay the fee, you can resell tickets on trocdestrains.com or www.leguichet.fr. Train booking websites in France are www.oui.sncf and www.thetrainline.com.
- Young people can buy an “Avantage jeune” card for €49 valid for one year (for those not yet 28th birthday). This card helps you buy train tickets cheaper than the listed price, usually 30% if you buy a full ticket.
- In France, when the train is at least 30 minutes late, you start to get a partial refund of the fare. The delay from 30 minutes to 2 hours is compensated 25% of the fare, from two hours to three hours 50%, and over three hours 75%. Each train ticket has a (numéro de dossier) 6 letter number. Use this number to go to www.sncf.com/fr/compensation-g30 to claim your benefits if your train is delayed.
If you go from Geneva, you can take the train many times a day, then from the train station, just walk 500 meters to the old town, located right on Lake Annecy. Or take the bus straight to Annecy town for 10.5 euros/person. Note, on weekends, the bus here runs very few routes and does not operate on Sundays.
By bus (#annecy travel blog)
The city’s main bus station is now located right next to the train station. Most major bus companies (Flixbus, Ouibus, Eurolines) have routes connecting major cities with Annecy. You can refer to the travel time by bus from Annecy to some other destinations. As for Geneve, in addition to the long-distance bus routes of the above companies, there is also a regional bus of Transdev Haute Savoie (www.transdevhautesavoie.com), the daily T72 route connecting Geneva with Annecy to serve a large number of people. Annecy people go to Switzerland to work with much higher wages than in France.
- Lyon: it takes 1 hour 50 minutes
- Grenoble: 1 hour and 50 minutes away
- Chamonix – Mont Blanc : takes 1 and a half hours
- Geneva: it takes about 50 minutes
What to do and where to go in Annecy? (#annecy tourist guide)
If you come to Annecy by train or bus, just walk about 500 meters from the station to get to the old town. Continue along the small medieval streets filled with restaurants, eateries and souvenir shops that are a bit sprawling and always busy, reminiscent of an Italian city in miniature.
Weaving against the flow of people will come out to the lake. Along the river, a few streets with houses painted in warm tones of yellow, orange, and red, make Annecy like a little Venice in the heart of the Alps. To the very end, where the Thiou River empties into the lake, there is a small island on which stands the symbol of Annecy, the Palais de I’lsle, the most poetic prison I have ever seen, with the appearance of a stone ship is sailing into the great lake.
If people know Colmar town as a small town with quaint and colorful architectural houses, Annecy town leaves a deep impression in the hearts of visitors by the charming landscape.
Arriving in Annecy Town, you will surely be amazed at the pastel-colored houses connected by French style brick paved streets along the banks of the green canal. On the walls or balconies hangings full of brilliant crape myrtle flowers, soft and colorful petals always hold visitors back.
People call Annecy the “Venice of France” but this Venice not only has canals flowing to a large lake, lovely bridges like in a fairy tale, but also beautiful small white gravel trails leading up the mountain. The two sides of the road are picturesque walls full of flowers, soft pink petals, beautiful and gentle, brilliant in the summer sun and white in the winter, making anyone passing by is captivated.
Even though I arrived it was still murky and dark, but I still couldn’t stop my excitement, because everywhere I looked, I could see rolling mountains and these poetic old streets. People say that Annecy is the Venice of the Alps, but I see it as a small French town but “missed” to be located in Switzerland.
Annecy is beautiful, really beautiful, beautiful even in the cold, murky autumn weather, I went forever and ever, and I spent hours walking around this small city without complaining. The first time I walked around the old town in Europe, my face couldn’t hide the excitement and sometimes flashed in my head the thought “oh this is in the movie”.
Castle of Annecy (Chateau d’Annecy)
Address: Pl. du Château, 74000 Annecy, France
Hours: 10 AM–12 PM, 2–5 PM/Tuesday: Closed
It’s okay that when going up and down the same path, I usually choose any path without default. This is also the part of the old town that is less touristy. Visitors on the tour often just get down to take a selfie in front of the Palais de I’lsle or the Pont des Amours bridge before having to board the car to go to the next point. My favorite is going up the slope of the Cote Saint Meurice, turning from the main street to the alley, from the alley there are countless alleys to explore, then suddenly see the stairs leading straight up to the castle, from there zoom into the eyes of the people. Annecy’s old roof with mossy red tiled roofs intertwined like a fishbone. In the opposite direction, going down from the castle, when merging with the flow of people on Sainte Claire street, it is very common to see a market meeting. For those who have the soul to eat and drink, going around often cannot resist the agricultural products of the mountainous Savoie region that are brought here commercially.
The center of the town of Annecy has a magnificent old castle that dates back to the 12th century and was once the residence of the earls of Geneva. It is not very splendid but very interesting because the furniture of the ancients is still intact, from the goose feather mattress to the kitchen utensils all evoke fantasies about the lives of the princesses and princesses in the old days.