FRANCE RHONE-ALPES HAUTE SAVOIE AnnecyFairytale Annecy (pop  51,000), Haute-Savoie's capital, is also home to the jewel of the Savoy Alps-Lac d’Annecy. One of the largest lakes in France, Lac d’Annecy also has the reputation of being the cleanest lake in Europe, as it receives rainwater, spring water and mountain streams, exclusively. However, this sparkling gem wasn’t always so. In the 1950s, Lac d’Annecy almost caused the downfall of the flourishing resort town, due to contamination issues that made the lake an open-air sewer. Thanks to extensive decontamination plans, Annecy has managed to save its prized procession. The gleaming lake is now the town’s pride and joy, enclosed by medieval buildings that stand amidst peaking mountains. Since the eighties, Annecy has also reinvented itself to become a bustling urban centre.


The River Thiou splits into northbound Canal du Vassé and southbound Canal du Thiou, then runs through town with Vieille Ville huddled around it. The town centre lies close to the banks of Lac d’Annecy, identified by the large Centre Bonlieu shopping complex. You can arrive via bus or train, west of town where the stations stand next to each other, along rue de l’Industrie and Place de la Gare.


The old town (Vieille Ville) stands on the lakefront, capturing the essence of Annecy with its picture-perfect 17th century setting. In its centre stands perhaps the most photographed site in Annecy- the Palais de l’Isle [Passage de l’Ile, +33 450338730 €3.60/1.30], a triangular shaped castle protruding into the lake. Built in 1132, the castle was once the residence of the Lord of Annecy. It later served many other functions, from being the headquarters of the Comtes de Généva to serving as the local jail, well into the Second World War. Classified as a National Historic Monument, the castle now functions as a museum and is connected to Champ de Mars (west of the castle) via the arched Ponts des Amours bridge also known as the Lover’s Bridge, as it is believed that those who kiss in the middle of the structure will stay together for life.

Southwest of the palais, up a narrow ramp, stands the forbidding gray-stoned Château d’Annecy [Place du Château +33 450338730 €4.90/2.30]. The castle once functioned as the residence of the Counts of Geneva and was reconstructed several times since its inception in the 12th century. Hence, the castle grounds feature a mix of medieval defensive structures as well as many Renaissance elements. The oldest part of the castle is the Queen’s Tower. Today, château d’Annecy serves as a museum, exhibiting regional artefacts such as Alpine furniture and artworks, as well as the exhibits of the Observatorie Régional des Lacs Alpine (which comprise of the region’s geological and marine life displays).

A physically active visitor might be able to fully experience Annecy, as the town issues an open invitation in summer, to water enthusiasts, bikers and trekkers.

FRANCE RHONE-ALPES HAUTE SAVOIE Annecy BeachAvid swimmers and sunbathers will be happy to know that Annecy has 3 beaches to its name. The public Plage d’Annecy-le-Vieux lies east of Champ de Mars, while the privately-owned Plage Impérial (named as such as it lies in the shadow of the Impérial Palace) is situated further inland. Another public beach, Plage des Marquisats, is situated on the other side of town, south of Vieille Ville (along rue des Marquisats).

The natural waters and lush greenery makes the shores of Lac d’Annecy a good place for a stroll. There are many places in town catering to walking addicts, such as the Jardins de l’Europe (located in Vieille Ville leading to the ascending route along quai Bayreuth and quai de la Tournette) and Champ de Mars. Forêt du Crêt du Maure and Bout du Lac lie further down south, away from the waters- featuring numerous walking trails.

Annecy also comprises of over 46km of cycling tracks around the lake, which are open to rollerbladers as well.

Water sport enthusiasts populate the town between March and October, as this is the ideal period to canoe, kayak, pedal boat and sail in the surrounding waters. The Stade Nautique [31 rue des Marquisats] is the local water sports centre- housing the Canoe-Kayak club, as well as the Sailing Society (equipment rentals are available here).

At the end of February, for about two and half days, Annecy turns Italian (thanks to its nickname- Alpine Venetia, which was given due to its criss-crossing canals). The Venetian Festival features over 250 masked figures participating in a colourful street procession- a must-see for photography buffs. July sees the celebration of Les Noctibules – a night time street parade; while August is the month to set the skies of Lac d’Annecy ablaze with a riot of colours from the grand 80 minute fireworks display of the Fête du Lac. Nearing the end of the year in October, Annecy celebrates Le Retour des Alpages – a traditional Savoyard affair, featuring the region’s food and crafts as well as a folk group and herd parade.


:   1. Tourism Office  2. Train Station  3. Canal du Vassé  4. Canal du Thiou  5. Centre Bonlieu  6. Palais de l’Isle  7. Château d’Annecy  8. Champ de Mars  9. Plage des Marquisats (south-east of map limits) 10. Plage d'Albigny
(east of map limits) 11. Jardins de l’Europe  12. Stade Nautique

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