A Weekend in the French Alps – Things to Do in Annecy
Annecy is a beautiful, small town located in the southeastern French Alps, an hour and a half east of Lyon. Perhaps one of the most idyllic towns in France, Annecy is an adorable city, featuring pastel buildings, canals, and a pristine alpine lake (Lake Annecy) framed by snow capped mountains. Annecy was the last stop of my family’s whirlwind trip around France before returning to Paris to fly back to the states. For this trip, we started in Paris before taking the TGV to Nice, where we got a car and drove to Cannes, Monaco, Avignon, Les Baux, Annecy, Chamonix, and Geneva before heading back to Paris! (I’ll be releasing a complete trip itinerary soon if you want to know more about my family’s trip through southern France.) There are several fun things to do in Annecy that you should check out if you visit this beautiful town!
Things to do in Annecy
Annecy is a great place to spend a few days when traveling through southern France because it’s a beautiful town perfectly situated for day trips to nearby cities like Geneva! There are several things to do in Annecy. Although there are a few notable museums and churches in the area, I think the best attractions in Annecy are the lake and the Vieille Ville, or old town. Annecy is a really great city to explore by foot because the lake is located on the border of the old town, and almost everything is within walking distance. My family and I spent most of our time in Annecy wandering through the Vieille Ville, stopping into cafes and shopping at the local stores. I really loved walking along the canals that cross through the city and admiring the quaint old buildings.
Renting a Boat on Lake Annecy
If you visit Annecy during the summer, I highly recommend renting a boat and spending a day (or at least an hour or two) on Lake Annecy! The water is a beautiful turquoise color, and you get a stunning view of the alpine mountains from the lake. My family and I really enjoyed going out on the water. There are so many boat rental options for a variety of price points, so whether you’re on a budget or living the luxurious life, there’s an option for you. We didn’t even need to make reservations ahead of time! We just walked up to one of the many boat rental stands along the lake and asked to rent a boat for the afternoon. Some companies also offer dinner cruises on the lake at night, and even though we didn’t do this, I think it would be a really cool option to get out on the water and admire the views while enjoying a meal.
My family and I stayed at the Splendid Hotel in Annecy. Our stay was pleasant, and the location was perfect. Our hotel was in the old part of town right across from the lake, so it was very convenient for walking along the marina and enjoying the beautiful views of the water and mountains.
What to Eat in Annecy
If you want a taste of the regional cuisine, make sure to eat raclette while you’re in Annecy! We had raclette for dinner one night- melty cheese wheel and all! If you’ve never heard of this cheese, you’re in for a fun (and smelly) surprise! You’re given a choice of different meat or veggie bases, and the waiter brings part of a wheel of cheese and a heater that makes the surface of the cheese super warm and melty so you can scoop it right off onto your plate (on top of your meat or vegetables)! This was really neat and very tasty if you’re a hardcore cheese lover, but beware: you will walk out of the restaurant smelling like very stinky cheese. I can’t remember the name of the restaurant where we ate, but there are several restaurants serving this regional dish in the old town!
Annecy’s food scene is heavily influenced by Swiss cuisine, so fondue and raclette are staples in this alpine town. Other regional dishes you should try include diots (a sausage), blueberry tarts, Gateau de Savoie (a regional cake), and Le Genepi, a type of alcohol. For more local food suggestions, check out this list.
Day Trips from Annecy
This town is situated just an hour away from Chamonix, a stunning mountain town with all sorts of exciting attractions and sites, like the Mer de Glace glacier and Mont Blanc, Europe’s tallest peak! For more about this perfect day trip destination, check out my blog post detailing everything you need to know! Geneva, Switzerland is another great option if you want to take a day trip from Annecy, as it is only about 45 minutes away by car. While staying in Annecy, we spent an afternoon walking around Geneva, window shopping, and hanging out by Lake Geneva.
Annecy is a stunning French town that looks like it belongs in a fairytale, and it is definitely worth a visit if you’re traveling through southern France. Between the exciting day trips located within a short drive and the many things to do in Annecy, including the beautiful lake and old town, there are many reasons to visit this town. Although this area is most popular during the winter because of the nearby ski resorts, Annecy is lovely (and well worth a visit) during the summer.
Have you ever visited Annecy? What did you think of this town?