Bonjour! My name is Florian Olbrechts from the Instagram profile: @butnomatter.theroadislife. First of all, I would like to express my gratitude for stopping by this article on Annecy. I hope that this content inspires you to visit the place known as the Venice of the French Alps!
I grew up in France and can’t give a precise location because I believe I have lived almost everywhere! My passion for photography comes from my grandfather who has always loved photography and its mechanisms.
My passion for travel is quite different because I started practicing with photography long before I began to travel. I think travelling goes back to my youth when I had the opportunity to travel to London for a school trip. Not exactly the most exotic place but the feeling it awakened in me has never ceased. Even today, I still travel to get that amazing feeling back.
Falling in Love Again with Annecy
As I mentioned before, I lived all over France during my youth and especially in a place called Savoie which is a French department located next to the Haute-Savoie department where Annecy is located. For this reason, I had the chance to visit Annecy several times when I was young.
Recently, I yearned to return to this city but this time experience Annecy with the eyes of an adult. I was coming back from a road-trip of more than 20 days where I had travelled to the Dolomites, Tyrol and Hallstatt as well as Lauterbrunnen. I decided to add Annecy onto the itinerary.
I think Annecy is the type of city that can be seen in two days (that is how much time we spent). But if you really want to appreciate its atmosphere and its way of life, you can stay for as long as possible. Personally, a simple walk in the Old Town is enough to keep me busy for a whole day. Each street is charming and full of small shops selling local specialties.
Then you have Lake Annecy. In my opinion, this is where we find the real charm of Annecy. You just have to walk around it to really get a deeper appreciation. Each corner will be the subject of a photo or two, even by the amateurs. I wouldn’t believe you if you told me this wasn’t the case!
My Favourite Places in Annecy
My favourite place in Annecy has to be the Old Town. I think you will fall in love with the Old Town during your visit. It’s the most typical and charming part of the city, and is actually not too far from the famous Lake Annecy.
That is what I love about it – you can explore the Old Town and its many charming streets and in less than ten minutes walk find yourself in front of the immensity of the lake. The two places combine beautifully.
But I know that the Old Town is not enough for those who want to experience the best of Annecy! That is why I have three more favourite places: L’Ecluse Fleurie, Perriere Bridge and Passage de l’lle Bridge. As you can tell by now, there are almost as many bridges in Annecy as in Venice!
11 Best Things To Do in Annecy
For those who have never visited, Annecy is regarded as the “Venice of the French Alps”. To me, it’s true that you can sense the romance of Venice but also the charm of small French villages. There is no better reason to visit Annecy than the comparison with Venice. Combining that with the French Alps makes it one of the best destinations in Europe.
If this is your first time visiting, I recommend starting off with the below experiences to make the most of your trip. From sightseeing around the incredible architecture and castles, to taking a boat ride on the lake and enjoying a bunch of water-based activities, to trying the delicious culinary treats of Annecy – no matter your preferences, you will have a great time!
1. Photograph L’Ecluse Fleurie – Bridge with Flowers
The historical landmark known as “L’Ecluse Fleurie” (a small bridge decorated beautifully in colourful flowers) is located in the heart of the Old Town of Annecy. Explore the cobblestone streets and unique arches until you find the amazing flower bridge. Take photos to your heart’s content on the charming Thiou Canal of Annecy.
2. Walk along the Charming Perriere Bridge
This cute little bridge known as “Pont Perriere” links two prominent parts of the Old Town of Annecy together. It’s located right by Palais de l’Isle – a gorgeous medieval castle and art/history museum. A fantastic time to see this bridge is during Christmas when it’s decorated and lit up with lights.
3. Visit the Beautiful Passage de l’lle Bridge
Another beautiful little bridge for pedestrians that connects the north part of Annecy with Palais de l’Isle. Like the wonderful bridge at L’Ecluse Fleurie, you will be looking out at and walking over the lovely Thiou Canal.
4. Discover the Nooks and Crannies of the Old Town
There is a lot to discover in the Old Town as a whole. Not only will you see the Palais de l’Isle, Thiou Canal and Les Arcades but you will also discover more without even planning it. Just wander the streets and see what hidden gems you can find. Trust me, you will fall in love with the Old Town!
5. Take a Wonderful Boat Trip on Lake Annecy
Spending some time on Lake Annecy is an absolute must-do! It doesn’t matter if you choose a boat cruise with other tourists and lunch or dinner included, a private taxi boat spending a full day on the lake with your own driver, or if you want to combine your lake experience with a scenic flight – spending time on this magical lake will be an unforgettable experience!
6. Explore Jardins de l’Europe (Gardens of Europe)
A different experience in Annecy where you can explore a beautiful garden full of tulip trees, pines trees and giant sequoia trees. The garden is located right by the lake and makes for the perfect place to explore on a warm summer’s day. Jardins de l’Europe was designed by Henri Porreaux in 1863 and has been maintained meticulously ever since.
7. Learn some Annecy History at Chateau d’Annecy
This well preserved and restored castle dominates the town of Annecy and is a must-visit! The castle has a fascinating history as it was used as the residence of the Counts of Geneva in the 13th and 14th centuries, utilised as a military barracks, and eventually was purchased by the city of Annecy to be transformed into a museum. The exhibits here today are fantastic.
8. Check out the Views from Pont des Amours
Pont des Amours is one of the biggest symbols of Annecy. The bridge faces the boats of the Canal du Vasse and remains sheltered year round from the surrounding trees. Walking along the bridge you have views of the lake and the nearby Swan Island. This metal footbridge connects important parts of the city together like Gardens of Europe to the Paquier Esplanade.
9. Enjoy the Pleasures of Savoyard Cuisine
The blend of French and Savoyard cuisine in Annecy adds so much flavour to your overall experience. I can’t recommend any specific restaurants per se but I can certainly suggest trying the fabulous Savoy sausage, Beaufort cheese, goat cheese, truffles, etc. Head to the Old Town for classic Savoyard dishes like Raclette, Croziflette, Tartiflette and Fondue Savoyarde.
10. Get to Know the Rustic Locals of Annecy
My last recommendation is getting to know the locals. This is certainly achievable if you stay for longer periods of time. The Savoyard culture differs a bit from the rest of France. You will find the traditional French culture but with a slightly more rustic and mountainous feel. I guess that is the same to what you will find on your plates in Annecy!
Bonus Experience: The Annecy Venetian Carnival
I have visited Annecy quite a few times now and know the city well. I think another thing that makes Annecy unique is its Carnival. Called the Annecy Venetian Carnival, this celebration takes place in April where the city dresses up in tunics and masks – similar to those in Venice. Having attended this carnival myself, it makes the city even more marvellous.
Need to Know Before you Go
If I had to give one piece of advice it would be for those coming from far away – you should definitely add Annecy to your itinerary and enjoy the region! Annecy is a well known starting point for many of the wonderful adventures you can have in the French Alps. So don’t hesitate to come.
Plus, when you are looking for accommodation, there are some incredible hotels and rentals available on the shores of Lake Annecy. This area is not far from the Old Town and you will have one of the best views in France. Thanks for reading and enjoy your trip to the Venice of the French Alps.