“The Venice of the Alps”, also known as Annecy, is a small town located in Haute-Savoie, a beautiful mountainous region close to Switzerland. If you travel in this area, Annecy is an essential stop. Three streams run through the city and down to its famous lake. The city was the capital of the earldom of Geneva until 1401. Today, it is a nice place to stay during the holidays, a cocoon between the mountains and the lake.
All roads lead to Annecy! Leaving from Paris, you will arrive in the Venice of the Alps after a 5h30 journey (around 560 km). As for the bill, expect to pay around €110*. If you leave from Lyon, the journey will be much shorter (only 1h45 -150 km) and the bill less expensive (around €30*). The shortest journey starts from Geneva, which is only 42 km far from Annecy. As for the bill, you will only pay around €12*. Once in town, you will have to park your car. The good news is that there are 19 car parks, 9 of which are free (more than 1560 free spots). The average price for one hour is €1,10*. To check the pricing list, please click here.
If you leave from Paris, you will have to go to the Gare de Lyon. From there, you have two options:
For those who want to travel by plane, you have two options as well: landing in Lyon or Geneva. It takes 1h15 to go to Annecy from the first airport, and only 40 minutes from the second. If you don’t plan to rent a car, many shuttles can take you to the city center.
Getting around town
The city is not that big, getting around town and the main sights won’t be that difficult. Nevertheless, please note that the city has a very large bus network. As for the pricing, a one-way ticket costs €1,40*; you can use it on the entire SIBRA network for one hour. For those who will take the bus more than once during the day, we recommend you to take the Pass-Alizé 24H for just €3,50*.
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Traveller information :
Tourist information center : http://en.lac-annecy.com/
Emergency number: dial 112 (European number)
Fire brigade: dial 18
Ambulance / Paramedics: dial 15
Police: dial 17
Missing children: dial 116000
National center for emergency calls for people with hearing problems: dial 114
Museums and touristic sites :
Le Palais de l’Île :
The Basilica of the Visitation and its Chiming Clock:
Annecy with kids:
The Dahu :
The following prices are indicative. They refer to a one night stay in a standard double bedroom and may be subject to confirmation at the time of booking.
Staying in Annecy can be a bit expensive. Unfortunately, you won’t find a hotel room for less than €60*
Average price (between 60 and 100 euros) : You will stay at very comfortable hotels and appartments. The decoration is modern and most of them are located in the city center
If your budget goes over 100 euros, you will have access to four-star hotels and appartments located in the city center. Some of them even have a breathtaking view over the lake.
From 3 to 15 euros : If you wish to have a bite in a typical New-Yorker café, stop at Mary's Corner Let’s have a look at the menu : Central Park hot-dogs, mouthwatering bagels and cookies as big as Texas.
After this savory meal, you can have an amazingly good coffee at Barista. Trust the wise baristi who will present you their finest coffees, just like sommeliers do. (Mary’s Corner, 6 faubourg des balmettes) (Barista, 2 passage Gruffaz)
From 8,5 to 42 euros : To taste some local products, try Autre Histoire, a restaurant located close to the city center. The menu is full with a wide range of flavours and treats that will enchant you. The Chefs give you the opportunity to spend a nice lunch or dinner with them.
However, if you’d like to travel to Japan without leaving Annecy, you have to go to Minami. The treats are colourful, tasteful and well-executed. (Une Autre Histoire, 26 rue Royale) (Minami, 19 faubourg Sainte Claire)
From 20 to 60 euros : To try gastronomic French cuisine without having a long bill, have a seat at L’Esquisse.The Chef perfectly combines different textures that will instantly charm your palate.
For those who would like to go to a typical chic French bistrot, La Part des Anges is the place you need to go to. À table ! (L’Esquisse, 21 rue royale) (La Part des Anges, 23 rue du Sommeiller)
From 30 to 115 euros :To please your eyes as well as your palate, push the door of Belvédère. What’s better than savouring a tasty meal with a view over the lake? (Le Belvédère, 7 chemin du belvédère)
Culinary specialitiesHaute-Savoie is famous for its landscapes and its local products. Let’s have a look at the specialities you may find in Annecy.
This is the emblem of the region. It is made of 3 varieties of cheese (Comté, Emmental and Beaufort) and a glass of white wine. Place a piece of bread at the end of your fork and put it in the pot full of cheese. Be careful not to lose it!
Potatoes, onions, bacon strips, crème fraîche, Reblochon… ‘Sounds fantastic, doesn’t it? Think about winter, snow, and a cozy fire: the tartiflette is the best meal you could have when it’s cold outside.
Now, let’s eat something sweet. This pie is slightly bitter but deliciously yummy. It’s easy to bake and you will love its taste.
Annecy Lake : The lake, also known as “The Blue Lake”, offers many activities all year round. The lake is surrounded by castles offering breathtaking views over the valley. If you feel like it, you can do many water activities such as sailing, scuba diving or water ski.
Notre-Dame-de-Liesse : Erected during the 14th century by the Earls of Geneva, the church withstood the 1789 French Revolution. The choir was destructed by the revolutionaries in 1793 so that they could build a Liberty Square. Unlike the other bell towers in town, the bell tower from Notre-Dame-de-Liesse survived. The church that you can see today was built between 1846 and 1851 on top of the old foundations.
Le Palais de l’Isle : Halfway between a house and a castle, this fortified house was built during the 12th century. Located on a natural islet, this house used to be a prison and a courthouse. On the eve of the 20th century (February 16th, 1900), the Palais de l’Isle was registered as Historic Monument.
The Basilica of the Visitation and its Chiming Clock : The basilica is relatively new as it was built between 1909 and 1930. The chiming clock counts 37 bells and a huge tenor bell that nearly weighs 4 tonnes. You can visit the bell tower every Saturday for free. Each visit lasts 1h15 and ends with a concert.
Montrottier Castle : The castle is about 10 km far from Annecy. This historic site offers an amazing view on the valley. The first foundations date back to the 13th century whereas the last stones where laid during the 15th century. This fortified castle had been erected to protect the route from Chambéry to Geneva.
Annecy with kids : Discovering a new city can be tiresome for the little ones. How about a treasure hunt to pique their interest? There are 6 booklets (available on the AppStore and Google Play for €1,50* each or €6,50* for the complete set) designed to make them discover the beauties of the surroundings. If you don’t have a tablet, you can rent one at the tourist office in Faverges or Doussard.
Quirky Annecy :
*This travel guide was published in April 2015, prices may then vary.