Annecy, France, the city of the best-known lake in the Alps, is the beautiful and charming capital city of the department of Haute-Savoie, in the French region of Auvergne-Rhodano-Alpes, is located northwest of France, very close to the Swiss border, just 42 km south of Geneva.
The biggest natural attraction for locals and visitors is the beautiful Lake of Annecy, a magnet for tourism that brings great value to the city and its population that lives very close to its waters, where they swim, dive, sail, fish, practice water sports, they recreate on their beaches or simply enjoy walking or cycling along their shore.
Annecy is also known as the Venice of Savoy, due to the water channels that cross the fascinating historic center, to pour its waters into the lake.
Different sections of bucolic canals crossed by charming little bridges, banks full of flowers that adorn the terraces of numerous restaurants and the facades of the colorful typical houses of Swiss architectural style because Annecy-le-Vieux belonged to the Swiss canton before being annexed to France.
What to see and do in Annecy, France
Offering postcard images in any corner, the old area of Annecy (Annecy-le-Vieux) captivates and surprises visitors who do not know what to photograph first. Strolling through the pedestrian streets of the old area is a pleasure for the senses, its history of undeniable beauty will envelop us everywhere.
The wonderful lake of Annecy, of glacial origin, with an area of 27.4 km2 is the second largest lake in France and is considered one of the cleanest in the world. Great leisure, recreation and rest center for the inhabitants of the region and great attraction for the many visitors who come on weekends. The road around the lake is full of landscapes and places that are worth a visit, such as the Duingt Castle and the Marais du Bot Nature Reserve.
Annecy le Vieux
It is the oldest area of the city and our favorite area to visit in Annecy, whose medieval legacy offers us architectural jewels quite well preserved due to the great use of the stone for its construction; walls, narrow streets, houses with intertwined roofs, bridges and buildings such as the Island Palace, built on an island in the middle of the canal; Today the headquarters of the Annecy Museum of History and the second most photographed monument in France!
Declared National Historic Monument in 1900, without a doubt, the symbol of the city and one of the main monuments of the Annecy postcards. Located on a tiny island on the Thiou Canal that flows into Lake Annecy.
Its triangular rear part resembles the bow of a ship stranded in the canal. It was built in the 12th century, as the official residence of the Lord of Annecy, later it was the Palace of Justice, Casa de la Moneda and finally, it was used as a prison until 1865. Today its old walls house the Museum of History of the city and are the main monument to see in Annecy.
Among the monuments to see in Annecy, is the Castle. It is a monumental fortress of the twelfth century, built by the counts of Geneva on Mount Semnoz inhabited until the seventeenth century when it was abandoned after a time of decline. In 1953 the city finally decided to buy the Castle for its recovery and conditioning for its current role as a Museum.
The Museum houses the headquarters of the Alpine Lakes Regional Observatory and the Archeology Museum where we find exhibitions about the first inhabitants of the lake, some aquariums with the species of fish from the Alpine lakes and a model of Lake Annecy itself.
Also interesting are the models of boats and an exhibition of fishing utensils. In another section of the castle is the Museum of Alpine Popular Art, with a large collection of regional sculptures and paintings. It also exposes a collection of antique furniture and other types of historical objects.
Bridge of Loves
The Bridge of Loves, located on the Vasse canal, one of the channels that pour its waters into Lake Annecy. Popular belief argues that the bridge owes its name to the custom in the past of going to this place to meet prostitutes. Nowadays, however, it enjoys great romantic symbology and the lovers who, according to legend, will stay together for a long time walk along this bridge if they kiss in their central section.
Crossing the Bridge of Loves we arrive at the park of the Gardens of Europe. They were created by a wealthy family outside the city walls, in a swampy area next to Lake Annecy.
Today it is a large urban park, with numerous trees and shrubs and breathtaking views of the great Blue Lake where you can breathe peace and silence. An idyllic place to go picnics, go for a walk or spend time in meditation and rest. In this beautiful urban park, we can observe and admire the curious Gingko Biloba tree and specimens of giant Redwoods.
How to get to Annecy, France
Annecy is at the foot of the French Alps and the two closest and most important cities are Lyon in France and Geneva in Switzerland, so if you live far away and are not on the road, you have to take a flight to one of those cities.
By Car: The best way to get to Annecy is by car. That way we are free to move around the surroundings of Annecy, which are wonderful, and we do not depend on public transport, which between cities works very well, but to reach some specific places, it is not the most suitable.
By Train: There are several daily trains connecting the Lyon Part Dieu station with Annecy and it takes about two hours. Although it is possible to go back and forth in the day, we recommend doing at least one night to get to know the city well.
By Bus: Some direct buses to Annecy leave from Geneva and take between 45 minutes and an hour and a half. The main bus station is Gare routière de Geneve although some also depart from the Geneve Eaux-Vives train station.
From Lyon, the Ouibus company offers us two options; Direct lines from Lyon-Saint Exupéry airport, ideal if you arrive by plane. The other is from the Gare de Lyon-Perrache bus stop. In this case, the journeys last between an hour and a half and two hours.
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