15 Annecy sights worth visiting
One of the most beautiful medieval cities in France is located on the shore of the cleanest lake in Europe. And isn’t that a reason to come here? Annecy is beautiful, permeated by canals and covered by a network of historic streets running in all directions.
The lake of the same name, fringed by mountains on all sides, is also magnificent: its crystal clear water literally beckons, especially on hot summer days. And this is not all that may be of interest for visitors. There is a long list of things to see and do in Annecy.
It is safe to say that Lake Annecy is an attraction of all of France: the country can be justly proud of this natural body of water with the clearest water. Whatever the aim of your trip to Savoie, this lake famous all over Europe will be in your plans.
Lake Annecy remains calm at all times, despite all the activity on its shores. If you come to Annecy in the summer, you’ll be hard pressed to blame if you want to lounge by the clear water for days on end at one of the city’s several beaches.
Two beaches, Brune Beach in Vergier du Lac and Municipal Beach in Saint-Georges, have been awarded the Blue Flag for their undeniable water quality and amenities such as restaurants, playgrounds and lifeguard patrol. Be prepared for the haze that covers the lake and its surroundings half the time.
The address is Lac d’Annecy, France.
Annecy can be safely called the French “city of arts”, because only within its compact old town you can find as many as 21 historical monuments.
The medieval core of the city on the Tioux River is particularly beautiful. Its canals, pedestrian streets and fascinating covered galleries will have you reaching for your camera every few steps.
For a better understanding of the city’s history and the “traces” of that history that grab your attention literally at every turn, we recommend that you walk in the company of an experienced guide. On Tuesdays there is a food market in the historic center of town, which adds a special flavor and energy to the old streets.
Address: Annecy Old Town, Quai de l’Évêché, 74000 Annecy, France.
Gardens of Europe
Gardens of Europe.
It’s hard to imagine a city park with better panoramas than the so-called Gardens of Europe, opposite the City Hall in Annecy. Once this place was just a marshy island. In the nineteenth century they built an embankment along the Vasse Canal and laid out an English garden, planting more than 600 deciduous trees around a monument to the pioneering chemist Claude-Louis Bertholle. Whatever the weather, don’t miss the opportunity to walk down to the water, sit on a bench and admire the mountain peaks over the southeast shore of the lake.
Address: Jardins de l’Europe, Quai Napoléon III, Annecy, France.
The Bridge of lovers
The Lovers’ Bridge.
Annecy has many picturesque bridges, but none can compare to the Lakeside Lovers’ Bridge. This bridge, spanning the Vasse Canal, connects the Gardens of Europe with the Jacquet promenade. And it is famous above all for its magnificent views of the lake and the mountains.
The mountain scenery makes this bridge a very romantic place. Don’t forget to look back at the town along the canal, which is surrounded by trees and has charming piers where boats and small boats are moored. Legend has it that lovers who kiss on this bridge will be together for life.
Address: Pont des Amours, Annecy, France.
The Castle of Ile (“Island Palace”).
Château d’Ile (“Island Palace”).
You won’t be the first person to come to the Pont des Perrier to photograph this fortified palace located on an island in the middle of the Tioux Canal, but you should do it anyway. This castle dates back to the 1100s, and it has been rebuilt more than once in its long history.
For hundreds of years it was the residence of the noble families of the County of Geneva. In the seventeenth century, the palace became a prison, and then, after the revolution, it had many different functions – it was a veterans’ home, a warehouse, a barracks. Today the castle of Ile serves as a kind of museum. Here you can see an exhibition about the architecture and historical heritage of Annecy, as well as take a look at the old courtroom, the dungeon, the prison cells and the palace chapel.
The address is Le Palais de I’lle, Passage de l’Île, Annecy, France.
Saint-Pierre Cathedral and the Basilica of the Visitacion
Basilica de la Visitación (Basilica of the Visitation).
St. Peter’s Cathedral, like Château d’Ile, is in close proximity to the water, next to the canals. This beautiful Renaissance building, built in the 1500s, you’ll see as you stroll through the historic part of the city.
The Visitation Basilica, on the other hand, is a little farther from the center, on the mountainside to the south of Annecy. The tower of this 19th-century church can be seen from miles away, and offers one of the best views of the city. Inside the basilica are the tombs of two saints, Francis de Sales and Jane Francis de Chantal.
Address: Basilique de la Visitation, Avenue de la Visitation, Annecy, France.
There are several good reasons to walk up the steep hill to Annecy Castle, the residence of the Counts of Geneva, which dates back to the 12th and 16th centuries. Here you can explore the old towers and halls of the castle, and in the museum you can look at beds, tables, chests and other medieval furniture, giving an idea of the way of life of the wandering rulers of Savoy. The museum also has more valuable exhibits – manuscripts. Many tourists prefer not to go inside the castle, and instead enjoy the views of the city from the terrace.
Address: Château d’Annecy, Place du Château, Annecy, France.
The Gorge of the Fières River
The Gorge of the River Fières.
Just west of Annecy, a short drive from the city, is an amazing river canyon cut by the River Fières.
This natural wonder is quite accessible to tourists: at a height of 25 meters above the river there are several walkways that allow you to admire the strange shapes created by many years of erosion.
In places, the gorge is so narrow that the cliffs almost converge overhead, and you can simultaneously touch the stone walls rising on either side. A little-noticed trail leads you from the gorge to a natural pool where people come to sunbathe and swim in the summer.
Address: Gorges du Fier, Chavano, France.
Chateau de Montrotier
Chateau de Montrotier | Photo: Uli & Liz Baecker / Flickr.
Combine your trip through the Fier Gorge with a visit to Château Montrotier, which looks down on the river from above. The architecture of this castle, which dates back to the 13th century, is impressive. Its tall round tower dominates the surrounding landscape.
During the summer months, the Château de Montrotier is open to the public. And it is certainly worth going inside, because the collection of Leon Mares, an explorer, traveler and passionate collector of the 19th century, awaits you there.
When Mares donated his collection from all over the world to the city, he specified that he wanted the collection to be displayed exactly as he left it.
During a 90-minute tour of this museum, you will see many historic tapestries, antique weapons, armor, antique furniture, ceramics, glassware and many other items that Mares acquired while traveling through Asia and Africa.
Address: Château de Montrottier, Allée du Château, Lovigny, France.
Le Grand-Bornand Resort.
Annecy is quite close to resorts such as Manigod, La Clouse, Le Grand-Bornand and Saint-Jean-de-Sixt, and therefore attracts skiing enthusiasts. If after a day on the slopes you want to rest not in a typical village, but in a civilized place, Annecy will be an excellent choice, especially since it is no more than 45 minutes from any of the local ski resorts.
All of the resorts are on the lower slopes, and are very suitable for beginners. La Clouse is the best, with the most difficult slopes of all the resorts around Annecy.
Address: Le Grand-Bornand, France.
When the warm July sun hits, Lake Annecy offers almost any water sport you can imagine. Like to go fast? Try your hand at water skiing or wakeboarding. Want something more relaxed and measured? Then try paddleboarding or open water swimming.
The address is Lac d’Annecy, France.
Hiking and biking
Around the lake shore, you’ll find many viewpoints that offer breathtaking views of the lake and mountains. Among them are Le Teylefer, Plateau Semnoz, Laudon, the chapel at Entreverne, and La Frasse Pass. All are easy to reach, even for families with children.
All you need is a pair of good boots. The very climb to these viewpoints is a great pleasure, as you’ll be traveling through mountain pastures, forests, and orchards.
The area around Lake Annecy is also an ideal green area for cycling. From the town you can go down the east shore of the lake and end your ride at Marlins in the Foverges Valley, 35 km from Annecy.
The address is Semnoz, V’uy-la-Ch’iez, France.
Fromagerie du Cruet store.
Annecy is a true cheese paradise, as there are four major cheese producers near the town – Gruyere, Emmental de Savoie, Emmental-Francais-est-Savoie, and Tomme de Savoie.
If you really like cheese, you should pay a visit to the village stores of Ferme de l’Angelie and Fromagerie du Cruet, which are situated on farms and sell their own cheese as well as homemade jams and sausages.
The area is also famous for its fish. Many fishermen live near the lake and make their living here. The Arctic char, perch and trout they catch can end up on your plate the same day in one of Annecy’s fine restaurants.
The address is Fromagerie du Cruet, St. Eustache, France.
Grand Cercle Casino.
This resort town on Lake Bourget, founded by the Romans, is southwest of Annecy and easy to reach by car. In the 19th century, Aix-les-Bains was very popular with the rich people of Europe, who came here for the healing water.
In the century and a half to two centuries since, the town has been improved with large hotels in the so-called Belle Epoque style, splendid townhouses and a casino.
If you want to gamble or just admire the Art Nouveau interiors, go to the Grand Cercle Casino. If you want to rest and relax after your excursions on Lake Annecy, Aix-les-Bains is again at your service, as it is still a first-class spa resort with pools and saunas. Here you will find all the restorative treatments you could wish for.
Address: Aix-les-Bains, France.
City of Chambery
The elephant fountain.
Drive a little further from Aix-les-Bains to the delightful Alpine town of Chambery. You won’t be able to resist the temptation to explore its historic center.
The medieval buildings, narrow streets and Renaissance arcades have stood the test of time, but the great thing is that they are not museum pieces, but part of a living city.
Chambéry’s main attraction is the Elephant Fountain, dedicated to Benoît de Boigny, the Napoleonic warlord who helped train the Maratha people in India and led the Maratha movement against the British. Another local landmark is Chambéry Castle, once owned by the Counts of Savoy. Today it houses the regional government, but the building is nevertheless open for tours.
Annecy, France sights
Annecy (France) – the most detailed information about the city with photos. Annecy main attractions with descriptions, travel guides and maps.
Annecy is a city in Eastern France in the Rhône-Alpes region. It is the historic capital of Haute-Savoie, located on the shores of the cleanest lake in Europe. Annecy is one of the most beautiful medieval cities in France, the historical center of which is riddled with charming canals. Thanks to them the city is often called the “Venice of the Alps.
Things to do (Annecy):
€130 per excursion
Annecy – the history and legends of the Venice of the Alps
Romance and treasures of a medieval town
Geography and climate
Annecy is located in Eastern France on the shores of the lake with the same name, 40 km from Geneva. The town is located in a beautiful area at the foot of the northern Alps and enjoys a strategic position between France, Italy and Switzerland. Annecy has a temperate climate. Summers are warm and sometimes even hot. Winters are cool, with brief subzero temperatures.
- Population – more than 120 thousand people.
- Area – 66.94 km 2 .
- Language: French.
- Currency – euros.
- Visa – Schengen.
- Time – Central European UTC +1, in summer +2.
- The nearest international airport is in Geneva. Lyon airport is two hours away.
- The city has excellent transport links with Geneva, Lyon and Paris.
- Annecy is famous for its Italian gelato and pastries. You can also taste not only French cuisine, but also Italian and Swiss food here.
Historians believe that a settlement on the site of the modern city existed since Roman times. In the 10th century Annecy was subordinate to Geneva, and in the early 15th century to the Savoy dynasty. With the development of Calvinism the city became the center of the Counter-Reformation. During the Great French Revolution Upper Savoy was conquered by France. In 1815, after the Bourbon restoration, it was returned to the representatives of the Savoy dynasty. Annecy and this historic region finally belonged to France in 1860.
The streets of Annecy
Annecy has a charming old town that is considered one of the most beautiful in France. It abounds with charming canals with colorful Piedmont-style houses decorated with flowers, arcaded streets with boutiques and small beautiful bridges.
Lake Annecy is one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe and considered the cleanest. This lake with turquoise water is located in a beautiful area of Alpine foothills and is beautiful at any time of year. The lake has two Blue Flag beaches, Plage la Brune and Plage Municipal.
The Palais d’Ile is one of the most famous sights of Annecy, which forms the most famous image of the city. The structure is located on an island on the Tioux River and was built in the 12th century. This building was a prison for a long time. Now you can see exhibitions on architecture and culture, as well as a tour of the old prison cells.
Chateau d’Annecy is another famous landmark that rises beautifully above the old town. The castle was built between the 12th and 16th centuries and was the residence of the Counts of Geneva. The oldest part of the castle is the Tower de la Reine, which dates back to the 13th century. From the 17th century until the first half of the 20th century there were soldiers’ barracks here. The castle is now a museum with exhibitions on the art and history of the region.
St. Pierre Cathedral
The Cathedral of Saint Pierre is a Renaissance and Gothic cathedral of the 16th century, which was not fully completed until the 19th century. The church contains a number of interesting Baroque works of art and objects. Adjacent to the Cathedral is the 18th-century Archbishop’s Palace.
The Sainte-Claire Gate is one of the entrances to the Old City. There is a clock on the facade of the tower.
Sainte-Maurice is a Gothic church from the 15th century which contains a number of interesting paintings from the same period.
Basilica de la Visitation
Basilica de la Visiting is a neo-Gothic church built in the early 20th century.
Pont de Amour
The Pont de Amour (Lovers’ Bridge) is an early 20th century pedestrian bridge with a beautiful view of the lake. It is believed that if lovers kiss in the middle of the bridge, they will be together for life.
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Grand Tour of Montmartre
The Moulin Rouge, Dalida’s house, the Villa Léandre, the Chateau des Mists and other famous Bohemian places
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The Louvre for children ages 6 and up
An educational but not boring adventure which will be remembered by young travelers