When travelling to the Alps in France, a must see place is Annecy also known as the Venice of the Alps.
Why visit Annecy? Located in Haute Savoie approximately forty-five minutes south of Geneva Switzerland, the city is well known for its turquoise water lake. Attracting thousands of international visitors during spring and summer, SeaOneWorld explored the best places to see in Annecy within a 2-day venture.
In the heart of the Alps Mountains lies a hidden treasure, the Annecy Lake. Its pristine water raised at 447 meters above sea level is famous for being very clean due to mountain springs feeding the water. With its 27 square kilometres in area span, exploring around the lake is doable within one day.
A recommended itinerary would be leaving Annecy using the coastal road and enjoy the stunning scenery with the mountain’s background over the lake. When getting to the nearest village’s namely L’Etraz, Les Avollions or Les Mongets, take a leisurely break and look for the aqua activity rentals. Our best advice is to hire a paddleboat and spend 1 to 2 hours in the middle of the lake enjoying a picnic basket at lunchtime. We had a memorable afternoon being cradled by small waves and admiring lake cruise boats pass by us. The sky is full of wonderful surprises as well, Paragliders quickly descend from the cliff, which makes it quite a spectacular show.
As you get back on the road, it is time to further explore the Annecy Lake. On route you will be drawn to nice beach spots where you can dive into the pristine waters. For instance, on both sides of Roc de Chère natural park, recreational areas offer places to swim, go for a walk or have a picnic on the grass. In fact, Talloires-Montmin and Menthon-Saint-Bernard, situated between water and mountains are picturesque villages for tourists. Another option for swimming could be the main beach in Annecy “plage d’Albigny”, might be slightly crowded as its more touristic however a must do during your stay in Annecy.
The old town is one of the main reasons why people visit Annecy. The medieval buildings of the city centre carry a rich history dating from the 12th century. Referred to as the Venice of the Alps, due to the Thiou canal. Annecy shows reminiscence of a fortified town. When you enter the district through magnificent entrance gates, the eye-catching Palais de l’Ile stands in the middle of the water as if it welcomes you with arms wide open. The sidewalk along the canal is narrow but very charming with the large number of cafes, restaurants and pubs. After spending some time enjoying the scenery by the canal’s banks, head back towards the city hall for a peaceful walk in “les Jardins de l’Europe”. Here you will find a park by the lake with wonderful mountains views. If you continue walking up north of the area, get your camera ready for a romantic picture by “le Pont des Amours”. On one side of the lake, the colour is remarkable and puts the Caribbean waters to competition. On the other side, the reflection of the trees over the canal mixed with the gondolas is absolutely splendid.
For adventure lovers, the must do activity is paragliding. Firstly, when you ride your car or stroll around the lake, it is impossible to miss the thousands of paragliders in Annecy’s sky. As mentioned we enjoyed their performance while on our paddleboat. The departure point is at “Col de La Forclaz” on the south east of the lake. There are two options as you can book in advance or use your own means to reach the top of the mountain and book on site. In peak season use the first option. Once you reach the summit, the show is impressive. People jump of the cliff with their paraglides every 30 seconds. The view of the entire lake and it’s surrounding is mind blowing. The start is smooth as a wide flat turf ground was installed to facilitate the departures. After listening to your instructor’s last advice take a deep breath and before you know it, here you go it’s your turn to run. As your adrenaline rises, you won’t even have time to realise that you have already dropped yourself into the void. Being suspended in the air above the lake is an incredible feeling. The paraglide would then follow a 30 minutes zigzag path to the landing base. Also make sure you bought the GoPro package for a memorable video of your jump. Leaping off the cliff, the first thought that came to mind was the answer to our question: why visit Annecy?
Annecy lake is surrounded by amazing hikes. For example, “Col de La Forclaz” is also the departure of several hiking trails. We started to walk between pine trees to reach “Pointe de La Rochette”. The trail is well marked and comfortable under the shade of the trees. After a 45 minutes hike, the summit offered us an outstanding panorama of the other valley. Views from the top are incredible almost like looking at a painting in an art museum. The air is crisp clean, and you automatically feel one with the surrounding nature.
In conclusion, with an abundance of outdoor activities, Annecy will suit any nature lover. Having had the opportunity to experience all the activities from paddle boating, swimming, paragliding and hiking we would say that Annecy falls with in our top 10 must do/must see places in Europe. We hope we answered the question “Why visit Annecy?”.
Fore more information, visit Annecy Lake official website.