The Allure of Annecy: 24 hours in the Little Venice of France

The Allure of Annecy: 24 hours in the Little Venice of France

The French Alps, medieval canals, old world architecture, and raclette — what more could you ask for?

Travelling to France and thinking of where to visit? Why not spend a day in Annecy? It’s known as the “Little Venice of France” and that alone has made many travellers curious about the charming Alpine town.

From historical sites to countless natural wonders including a crystal clear lake, there is much to discover in this jewel found in Southeastern France. It’s only a four-hour train ride from Paris, and there are up to 21 trains per day that can take you from Paris to Annecy and back again.

The capital of the Haute-Savoie region, Annecy is a beautiful medieval town situated by the shores of the cleanest lake in Europe, Lake Annecy. It is surrounded by the magnificent French Alps and is laced with canals and pretty arcaded houses. Needless to say, a day in Annecy is like a dream come to life. Here are the top six activities that you can do if you’re planning a day trip to this ancient town.

1. Take in the sights at Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy is simply stunning. Imagine calm, crystal clear waters reflecting the golden sunshine. Spend some time walking along the promenade by the shore to admire the captivating scene. Why not pack some light snacks with you and have a little picnic by the shore? Most areas of Annecy are car-free, which makes this town quite the peaceful retreat.

Feel the cool lake breeze and enjoy the surrounding scenery of the French Alps. Green in the summer and snow-capped in winter, the sublime view of the French Alps will certainly not disappoint.

In the summer, you can take a dip in the cool waters of Lake Annecy. You can also rent a paddle boat or kayak across the lake. If you just want to chill and soak up the sun while still being able to enjoy the spectacular sights, several tour operators also offer boat cruises on Lake Annecy.

2. Stroll around the Vieille Ville (Old Town)

Walk along the narrow cobblestone streets and discover whimsical canals within the storied Vieille Ville or Old Town. Annecy earned its nickname, “Little Venice”, because of the Thiou canals that flow throughout the city. The place is also known as the “Pearl of the French Alps”.

The city was built in the 10th century and was passed on from the counts of Geneva to the counts of Savoy in the 15th century. It was during the French Revolution that Annecy was conquered by France.

little venice france annecy

Today, many 16th and 17th century buildings still line the winding canals but have been revamped into cafes, restaurants, boutiques, and bakeries. The shores of the canals are decorated with colourful flowers that brighten up the streets (and your heart!).

Make sure to stop by one of the cafes en plein air along the canals. Spend the afternoon and early evening bathing yourself in warm sunshine while sipping coffee, eating gelato, or enjoying a glass or two of local Savoie wine!

3. Visit the iconic Palais de L’isle

The historical Palais de L’isle is the most famous and iconic landmark in the Old Town of Annecy. The building resembles a ship and was built on the rocky islet in the 12th century.

little venice france annecy

Isolated in the middle of the Thiou Canal, it was once a castle, a courthouse, a mint workshop, a lordly residence, and then a prison. It is now an art and history museum where you can learn all about the town.

Tip: If you want to take a photo of the famous structure, make your way to the bridge across it. That’s the best vantage point from which you can completely take in the old world architecture.

4. Feel the love at Pont des Amours

Not far away from the Vielle Ville, Pont des Amours (which translates to “The Lovers’ Bridge”), has one of the prettiest views of the lake, the mountains, and the city. Crossed by many couples, it is believed that if lovers kiss on the bridge, they will be together forever. So if you are here with your significant other, this place must be on your itinerary.

little venice france annecy

Take your time while crossing this lovely footbridge. Enjoy the view and the quiet; be swayed by romance in the air! You can even spot some swans swimming elegantly in the river under the bridge.

5. Wander at the Sunday Market

little venice france annecy

If you visit Annecy during the weekend, you can’t miss the Sunday Market!

Every Sunday, colourful stalls dot the old streets of Annecy, turning the medieval town into a lively market. The Sunday Market in Annecy is renowned in France, with many offerings from antiques and secondhand books to fresh flowers and local farm products. Here, you can definitely find something that you can bring back home.

6. Get cheesy — have your fill of local fare

little venice france annecy

Image credit: Varaine

Last but not least, you cannot leave this lovely town without trying the raclette or fondue! Forget about your diet for just a day, and enjoy these regional specialities which are heavily influenced by the Swiss. Raclette and fondue are traditional cuisines served with cheese, cheese, and more cheese! Dip boiled potatoes, cured ham, and crispy bread into the melted cheese. With just a bite, you are transported to cheese heaven!

So what are you waiting for? Visit this lovely town in the coming holidays and find out why it’s called the Pearl of the French Alps.

Also read: Adventure is Calling: Top 10 Hidden Gems To Visit in France Other Than The Eiffel Tower

About Author

Sophie Yong
Sophie Yong

Always eating something, or on her way finding good food, Sophie has the ultimate dream of becoming a full-time traveller and freelance writer to share her travel and food-hunting story. Interested in learning new languages, she has learned French, Japanese and Vietnamese, and hopes to speak like the natives in future. Things she enjoys? French pastries, Impressionism artworks, non-fiction books, Korean drama, and a good cup of coffee (or wine!).

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