10 Reasons to Fall in Love with Annecy
From the beginning of our trip to France, I was most excited about exploring Annecy and it’s picturesque surroundings. Old and beautifully faded colorful buildings, meandering canals, and a stunning crystal clear lake that’s surrounded by high snow covered peaks.. yes, this is the kind of place that inspired fairy tales. Unlike Paris, things move remarkably slow in Annecy. We had hopes of venturing further into the country side and hiking La Tournette, but never managed to pry ourselves away from the town long enough to make it a reality. If Walt Disney ever visited a town for inspiration, surely this was it.
1. Meandering Canals
As a traveler from the United States, I’m the first to admit that we get a little over excited about canals. To Europeans they’re just an infrastructural necessity, but to us, they’re a thing of beauty. Unlike the canals in Bruges and Amsterdam (that appear black and incredibly deep), the canals of Annecy are shallow and clear enough to see to the bottom in some places.
2. It looks like a Fairy Tale
All of the buildings are washed in pastel hues that reflect off the water and illuminate passersby. The flower boxes that decorate each window make things seem over the top charming. We joked that the tax dollars in Annecy probably go to flower maintenance throughout the village.
3. The Village is Situated in the Alps
This means that it’s surrounded by panoramic mountain peaks. Although they’re snow covered in the winter, they make for great hiking and exploring in the summer.
4. Did we mention the Lake?
You can rent boats or just drive a loop around the entire thing. We loved how clear and blue the water looked. Local families and tourists take full advantage of a large public park perched right between the village and the waterfront. It was pretty awesome to see French toddlers just hanging out unaccompanied and families roller blading around like it 1993.
5. Or the Picnic we had by it?
You can stock up on local cheeses, preserves, and fruit for pretty cheap. Our picnic consisted of 4 types of French cheeses, chocolate, bread, crackers, strawberries, raspberries, and fig preserves. Total, we spend about 20 euros to assemble it.
6. And there are Extreme Adventures
Had I known that this was a possibility, I would’ve made it a reality. During one of drives around the lake, we saw dozens of people falling into view from high above. We learned that this is extremely popular in the area. With views like that, we understand why.
7. Plus, delicious Crepes and Ice Cream
The pictures pretty much speak for themselves. Annecy is full of great food, but we spent most of our meals eating crepes. The large sub style sandwiches are also awesome, and about 1/2 the price of subway. Yeah, that’s right, half the price of subway and high quality with real meat and veggies. You can find them at most of the deli counters and bake shops and they’re perfect for packing.
8. Everything Feels Old
This was the view that we had just outside of our little guest house. There are tons of big and little hotels you can stay at, but I highly recommend Hotel du Chateau Annecy for it’s pricing, location, and character. We stumbled upon the it during our second day and instantly loved it. The place feels untouched by the modern age with a traditional reservation system and keys, rather than computerized everything and cold reception. The bed was cozy, the bathroom was modern, and the views were panoramic.
9. And there’s a Castle
If you’re trying to find a castle in Annecy, it can be a little confusing because there are a lot of things that will pop up in your search results. Menthon Saint Bernard is shown above, in the second photo. We drove to it, but unfortunately they were closed.
10. You won’t want to leave
We weren’t excited about leaving, because it was our favorite place in France so far (sorry Paris). The views were great, food was reasonably priced, people were friendly, and I never felt like I was going to be robbed. All winning points of Annecy that will make you want to stay put.
Getting There: For our trip, we booked a last minute flight from Paris to Geneva on an EasyJet flight and spent about $40 USD on a one way ticket. Word of advice, it takes a really long time to get to the Orly Airport (this is the domestic airport). If you don’t want to jog to the gate, plan on taking a taxi instead of using public transportation. We were lucky that we didn’t miss our flight all together.
Renting A Car in Geneva: We all have mixed feelings about Geneva, mainly because everyone we met there was super rude and unfriendly (trust me, we’ve got some stories). Upon landing, we spent about 2 hours in the airport trying to figure out how we’d get to Annecy. After realizing how expensive bus tickets were going to be, and figuring out how much time we would loose in the process, we decided to split a rental a car. Walking up to the Hertz counter was pretty hilarious. The gruff sales associate quoted me $380 Swiss francs for 3 days, which translated to about $430 USD at the time (and didn’t include insurance). I literally laughed out loud upon hearing that price, because in all reality, it sounds like a joke. Being crafty travelers, we found wifi and utilized our kayak app. I ended up finding an automatic SUV that included insurance for $280. That’s definitely not a great price, so my advice it to plan further in advance and find a friend who can drive a stick.
Toll Roads: The drive to Annecy isn’t very long and it’s pretty scenic. We we’re surprised by how much toll roads cost though. I assume the high price is related to crossing the border into another country. I think we paid about 8 euros worth of tolls each segment of the trip (Geneva to Annecy roundtrip is about $16). It isn’t a lot, but you’re going to want to have some cash handy.
The Hostel in Annecy: Honestly, it was really strange and none of the outlets or wifi worked in our room. You can probably find a double occupancy room downtown for the same price if you look around.
(A portion of the photos used above are the property of individual owners, uploaded via flickr. All photos are linked to owner accounts upon clicking.)