The highest point of the old town of Annecy is the castle of the same name. The castle today is turned into a museum, to be more precise, 4 small museums in the same location, but there is nothing very attractive. The interesting thing lies in the way to climb the castle. From the two main streets of the old town that run along the Thiou River, rue de l’Ile and rue Sainte-Claire, there are many different ways to get to the castle.
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Pont des Amours (Bridge of Loves) (#annecy travel guide)
Address: 74000 Annecy, France
The most romantic spot in Annecy town is probably the Pont des Amours (Bridge of Loves), below is the green water, above are rows of green trees and far away is the majestic Alps Mountains, such a poetic space makes the bridge charming, there are always couples from all over the world, holding hands and taking pictures.
Legend has it that if a couple stands on a bridge and kisses each other, they will live happily together forever, below is the blue water, in the distance is the green park and the majestic Alps have created a scenery is very charming and makes the Annecy Love Bridge one of the most romantic bridges in Europe. This bridge is located right in the city center, next to a park with beautiful green grass, so it is easy to find it.
A little across the bridge of loves is Lake Annecy formed more than 18,000 years ago, more than 3km wide and 14km long, it is very famous for being called the clearest lake in France. The lake is vast, the water is as green as jade, so clear that you can see the bottom. There are really long wooden walkways along the lakeside for guests to sit and enjoy the view. Far across the lake are green mountains with peaks such as Lanfon, Le Lafonnet towering over the lake surface, making visitors unable to take their eyes off.
This “Pearl of the French Alps” is known as the cleanest freshwater lake in Europe. Nothing can describe the beauty of the lake when I see it with my own eyes, in the distance is the Alps, beyond. Next to it is a park with a green lawn, people are relaxed with activities around the lake: people ride bicycles together, young families lie in the sun under the green grass enjoying the coolness of the lake, have a group of friends young people kayaking or couples holding hands and walking around the lake… all make Annecy like a dream city, coming out of the picture.
Basilica of La Visitation
Address: 11 Av. de la Visitation, 74000 Annecy, France
Hours: 8 AM–6:30 PM
Or in French called Basilique de la Visitation. The church is located on a hill that when climbing, you can see the whole of Annecy, this is also a place where when I ask any local, they also point me here.
The Basilique de la Visitation was built between 1909 and 1930 and became the symbol of Annecy. Completed in the early 1930s, the church was built after a massive funding campaign and a national competition that saw architect Alfred-Henri Recoura (1864-1940) chosen as the main architect of the church. He proposed a fairly liberal Neo-Romanesque style. The interior décor also contrasts with the simplicity of the exterior. The middle columns are made of blue Savoy marble and glazed mosaics from Venice and Briare. Inside there are beautiful mosaics and stained-glass windows recounting the lives of Saints François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal (Annecy’s patron saints).
Inside there are beautiful mosaics and stained-glass windows recounting the lives of Saints François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal (Annecy’s patron saints).
For non-Catholics, this is also a place where you can come and learn about the church, the town’s history and admire this structure from the outside and take in the view to the beautiful scenery Annecy’s panorama.
Le Palais de I’Île
Address: 3 Pass. de l’Île, 74000 Annecy, France
Hours: 10 AM–12 PM, 2–5 PM/Tuesday: Closed
As written above, Annecy’s heart, symbolism is probably the Palais de l’Isle. The building that for five centuries has been a prison is probably the most poetic prison I’ve ever seen. For five centuries as a prison, the building retains its original name, Palais de l’Isle, or “palace of the Isle family”, the family that reigned in Annecy when the construction of the fortress began on the island.
Palais de I’lsle with the appearance of a fortress, a stone boat that is breaking the water of the Thiou River, the only natural flow in the canals of Annecy, is about to plunge into the great lake. The city in general and the old quarter in particular are more beautiful from the beginning of spring, when following the streets, geraniums have begun to bloom and can be lasted until the end of summer. Every time I go to the Palais de I’lsle, I do something I enjoy most in Annecy. Winter or summer, I buy one (or several) of ice cream at the “Glacier des Alpes”, an ice cream parlor that I am passionate about, comparable to the great Italian ice cream artisans. After buying ice cream, on an empty day, take it to the bridge opposite the Palais de I’lsle, on a crowded day, sit right at the steps beside the city gate next to the shop. The happiness of children, but sometimes we forget that we are just kids with big heads.
Palais de l’Islemuseum – an 800-year-old triangular building in the middle of the central canal. This used to be a prison, then a church and now a pub. The entrance price is about 6 euros and the price of dining in this house is of course the most expensive in Annecy because of its historical value.
The garden Jardins de l’Europe and the park le Paquier
Address: Quai Napoléon III, 74000 Annecy, France
The pride, treasure and also the place containing countless legends in Annecy is a green space of 7 hectares close to the lake, where the Canal du Vassé divides this green into two unequal halves. Ancient trees with a few hundred years old stand drooping on the berths along the canal, overlooking the bridge that the people of Annecy called the Bridge of Love – “le Pont des Amours” is probably one of the symbols of French romance.
If on the side of the Garden of Jardins de l’Europe, we can avoid the summer sun under the hundred-year-old trees, then on the side of the park le Paquier is a large green lawn, open to the water with the horizon is the Alps covered with snow all year round. The highlight on that picture is the white sails surfing on the waves or the family of swans that are always close to the water’s edge.
Park le Paquier has been dubbed since the early 20th century as “an unthinkable in the city centre”. What a beautiful piece of land, close to the water on one of the most beautiful lakeshores in Europe, a golden land that no real estate project can encroach on. One legend holds that the entire land of Paquier Park was donated to the state by a madam, only with the pledge that the entire land would be kept as a green space in the city for posterity, for future generations and for her descendants can still enjoy the lake’s scenery. An unverified legend, however, only knows that generations of Annecy leaders have not been influenced by money to deform this land.
Picnic around the lake or go up the top of Semnoz
The natural heritage is the most valuable and invaluable asset to visit if you come to Annecy. Just out of the center, away from the crowds of tourists will feel a completely different Annecy. Nature around Annecy all four seasons Spring-Summer-Autumn-Winter is always wonderful. 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. Or take a bike and cycling around the lake, and then in the afternoon, stop for a drink in the village of Veyrier-du-Lac, where people say that throughout this region, there is nowhere to see a more beautiful sunset.
Skiing on the top of Semnoz
Semnoz is a small ski resort right next to Annecy, about 20 minutes by car. During the ski season from November to the end of March when the resort opens, there are three buses a day from Annecy to the area for those who do not have a car, or are not used to driving in the snow. Semnoz area is classified in the list of ski areas suitable for families with young children – “station familiale”. The main customers that these areas are aimed at are families with children, not necessarily international tourists. The advantage of these areas is that the service is affordable, as well as there are many slides for those who have never skied or are new to skiing.
In French ski areas, the slides (“piste”) are divided into 4 categories with four basic colors from easy to difficult as follows:
- Vert – Green: For beginners to practice skiing. Usually the wide, low-slope slides are located at the bottom of the ski resorts.
- Bleu – Blue: The slide has a medium difficulty level.
- Rouge – Red: The slide has medium to high difficulty. This slide is steeper and narrower than the blue one. The slope should not exceed 40% (equivalent to 18 degrees).
- Noir – Black: The slide has a very high difficulty. Snow is often left to nature without going through the snow compaction process.
Semnoz has a lot of slides, including 7 green slides, 5 blue slides and 6 red slides. When going skiing, in addition to the cost of travel and accommodation, there are two more things that must be targeted: the ski rental fee (we rarely go skiing, so we prefer to rent rather than buy) and the cable car fee (known as forfait remontée mécanique), is simply the fee to ride the cable car from the bottom to the top of each section to slide downhill. The cable car fee in Semnoz is quite affordable, from 8€ to 15€/day depending on how long you want to slide. The rental fee (shoes, bars and skates) is about 20€/day, it can be even cheaper if you rent it under the sports shops in Annecy town and bring it up.
More information about the Semnoz ski area can be found on the site’s official website. If you want to learn more about skiing in France, you can read the relatively informative article on cdc-adventure.com.
Small tips: For extra savings, instead of renting ski gear on the Semnoz resort, you can visit the Go Sport store in Annecy. The shop is located near Annecy station as well as the starting point of the bus to Semnoz. The price will be cheaper. Because the bus from Annecy to Semnoz is to serve skiers, so bring comfortable clothes on the bus. Go Sport Annecy Bonlieu Center Commercial Bonlieu, 1 Rue Jean Jaurès, 74000 Annecy +33 4 50 45 29 74.
Cycling around the lake
Annecy has a lot of activities for visitors to choose from as I mentioned above: cycling, kayaking, renting a self-drive canoe, even lying on the lawn enjoying the sun is also an interesting activity.
I thought about the options and finally made the decision to cycle around the lake. Because the lake area is about 35km on the bike path, there are many beautiful scenes from the mountains to the lake, so cycling to admire this beautiful land is not a bad idea.
Bicycle rental price, I see the shops are renting the same price from about 8-10 EUR/hour. I choose Cyclable because this rental is located in the center of the city and easy to travel.
I started my cycling journey at 2pm and returned at 5pm, I think that’s enough for me to be able to see Annecy as much as I want.
The route is quite easy to go and most of I follow the map of Lake Annecy, there is also a separate lane for bicycles, so most of them run confidently alone, without fear of anything.
Wow!!! What a beautiful scene. I suddenly got a little emotional because these scenes were mostly seen when I was a kid in movies or videos, now I have witnessed it in real life.
When climbing slopes because I was too tired, I stopped to sit on a stone bench and enjoy the scenery by the roadside. Indeed, Annecy is beautiful without dead corners, I just need to pan the camera, and the beautiful things are left to nature Annecy to take care of!
What to eat in Annecy?
For people who are passionate about Vietnamese food like me, finding a Vietnamese restaurant here is a difficult problem because eating French food is quite boring. So the days in Annecy I tried to find Asian dishes such as Korean, Japanese, Thai and some typical French dishes that I find delicious such as steak tartare (raw beef) and classic moules frites (Mussels with cream sauce and white wine).
Mussels with fresh cream sauce and white wine are equally typical dishes of the French, the serving size of one person is also very huge. In general, the food was quite good, but it cannot be as delicious as the snail dishes in Saigon.
While touring the town of Annecy, stop by a bakery to buy a croissant, or sit down with a cup of coffee and admire its unique architecture.
You should also stop by the various bars like Captain Pub (Address: 11 Rue du Pont Morens, 74000 Annecy, France) and spend hours in the markets (where fresh produce, antiques and crafts are sold) or enjoy the delicious cakes from the shop Philippe Rigollot Pâtissier Chocolatier (Address: 1 Pl. Georges Volland, 74000 Annecy, France).
And definitely don’t forget to find a restaurant right on the street and try the Raclette – the signature dish of Switzerland is a famous food in Annecy town. It consists of a large cheese made from cow’s milk that is melted over a fire and then put on a plate to eat. This dish is served with boiled potatoes, cold cuts, cucumbers and pickled onions. It will surely conquer your fastidious taste from the very first bite.
Where to eat?
Address: 9 Rue de la Gare, 74000 Annecy, France
Hours: 12–1:30 PM, 7:30–9:30 PM/Monday, Sunday: Closed
Annecy is a resort town. Finding a good restaurant in Annecy is not difficult. Finding a good meal in Annecy at a reasonable price is a bit trickier. Of course, if you want to have both of these factors, you have to go out of the old town with places to eat mostly just for the purpose of serving tourists. Le Bouillon is a restaurant that we happened to try when the new address opened in Annecy.
Mathieu Chauvin is a young chef who is considered to have a lot of potential in his generation, after cultivating his experience. After a few years of experience at a restaurant of the Paul Bocuse chain in Lyon, he opened a restaurant le Bouillon in this lakeside city. The menu for the restaurant he built changes according to the season, changes daily with what he can buy at the market in the morning. The menu has only a few dishes, to be careful, and suitable for the rather small scale of the restaurant that he built. Usually there is only one meat dish, one fish dish, a few appetizers and many desserts.
As a student trained by Paul Bocuse, the dishes he built began to be elaborate and sophisticated, quite modern when he added many fusion flavors of Oriental cuisine. Ginger, lemongrass, saffron are the flavors we can see often in the restaurant’s menu. If you have the opportunity to come to Annecy on a weekday afternoon and get a reservation, it is really worth coming here to discover the talent of Mathieu Chauvin.
Lunch menu costs €19 including starter, main course and dessert. The space is small but cozy, quite modern. We will enjoy a delicious meal, the price is reasonable, and the sound is not solemn and sometimes a bit heavy in the famous culinary restaurants. My hunch is quite accurate when I know that the restaurant in 2018 has been included in the famous Michelin culinary handbook. Not yet star-studded but already a great encouragement.
Address: 16 Rue Perrière, 74000 Annecy, France
Hours: 12–6 PM
The first time I came to Annecy, I immediately noticed this small ice cream shop, located in a slightly hidden corner of the old town, the exterior is a bit old, nothing is eye-catching, but the line is long in front. There must be a reason for it. Surely every Annecy resident knows about Glacier des Alpes, an address that has been serving the people of the city since 1966, which is more than half a century, and I personally love the ice cream here so much that it is comparable with artisans making the best Italian ice cream I’ve eaten across the border.
Winter or summer, I buy one (or several) of ice cream at the store. After buying ice cream, on an empty day, take it to the bridge opposite the Palais de I’lsle, on a crowded day, sit right at the steps following the Impasse du Trippoz entrance next to the city gate. There are about 40 flavors of ice cream, fruit ice cream flavors change with the season. For those who are hesitant, the shop sells a cone with 9 flavors of their choice, making the process of choosing ice cream a little less stressful in thinking about which flavor to eat and which flavor to hold off for a while.
Where to stay?
The town of Annecy is not big but it seems that the most romantic things are dedicated to this town with hundreds of hotels large and small spread throughout the town with prices ranging from 50 euros to 150 euros per night. Most hotels have good service quality, nice rooms and are located at a comfortable level.
Suggest you a few places such as Le Boutik (Agoda, Booking) is a small, pretty 4-star hotel. This small hotel is located in the old town, extremely peaceful suitable for all visitors to visit. If you prefer to stay in high-end hotels, you can choose to stay at the Hotel du Savoie and the Impérial Palace hotel (Agoda, Booking).
Below we recommend more best budget, mid-range and upscale hotels with good ratings and reviews you can refer to.
- Best Western Hotel International (Agoda, Booking)
- Hôtel du Palais de l’Isle (Agoda, Booking)
- Campanile Annecy Centre – Gare (Agoda, Booking)
- Best Western Plus Hotel Carlton Annecy (Agoda, Booking)
- Le Splendid Hôtel Lac d’Annecy (Agoda, Booking)
- Ace Hotel Annecy (Agoda, Booking)
- Novotel Annecy Centre Atria (Agoda, Booking)
- Hôtel des Alpes (Agoda, Booking)
- Premiere Classe Annecy Cran-Gevrier (Agoda, Booking)
- Hôtel Les Muses (Agoda, Booking)
- ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville (Agoda, Booking)
Some best day tours, trips, activities and transfer services, tickets in, from and to Annecy you can refer to
- Annecy Half Day Tour from Geneva
- Geneva City Tour with Optional Boat Cruise and/ or Annecy Tour
- Annecy Half Day Tour from Geneva
- Annecy Private Walking Tour
- Private Boat Cruise on Lake Annecy in Haute-Savoie
- From Geneva: Annecy Half-Day Trip
- Annecy: 1-Hour Segway Discovery Tour
- Annecy: Outdoor Smartphone Escape Game and Tour
- Annecy: 1.5-Hour Segway Tour
- Annecy: City Highlights Self-Guided Scavenger Hunt & Tour
- Geneva City Tour and Annecy Visit
- Annecy 2-Hour Segway Tour
Fro me, Annecy is not a paradise on earth where the fairyland is as countless as Switzerland, nor is it a miniature Italian city of Venice, not as lavish and splendid as Paris. Annecy is a place of interference between nature and people, just run to the lake to sit, all worries and chaos will be washed away by the lake water.
I leave Annecy in the mindset that I will definitely come back here, on a bright sunny day, I will immerse myself in Lake Annecy, look at the majestic Alps, hold my lover’s hand and kiss on the Bridge of Loves praying for live happily ever after. See Annecy on the most beautiful day! Read more France guide here.