Listed as a historic monument by the French Ministry of Culture, Annecy Castle was the residence of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours. Today, it houses the Regional Observatory of the Alpine Lakes and the museum of modern art. From the terrace, you will have a great view over the city and the lake.
Legend says that if two persons kiss on the middle of the bridge, their love will be eternal. Created around 1906 to replace another bridge, Pont des Amours (the Lovers' Bridge) links the European Gardens to the Pâquier park. It offers a really beautiful view: on one side, you can see the lake and on the other side, the old town can be pictured.
The Vieille Ville (literally "Old Town") of Annecy is not very big but worth a walk. The lovely gates and arches, as well as the backdoors to small and secret streets, are definitely to be photographed. Every corner hides surprises and walking around when it is summer is absolutely marvellous.
Around 250 trees, such as a tulip tree, pines and giant sequoia trees, are found in the lovely Gardens of Europe, where you can enjoy a walk by the lake in a sunny afternoon. This romantic English garden, designed by Henri Porreaux in 1863, is a heavenly spot in town where children are free to play from a walking distance to the old town, while you sit on one of the benches in front of the lake.
Dominating the city, this cathedral symbolises the rich religious past of the city and gives an indirect insight of the muted power struggle between Calvinism and Catholism. The Visitation Basilica protects the bodies of Saint Joan of Chantal and Saint Francis of Sales, as well as a 38-ton chime, named Marie-Francoise.
This church was built in the late 14th century and definitely worth a visit. After having seen the lovely garden, take some time to admire its beautiful architecture: you will love the huge marble columns, as well as the stained-glass window's designs. You will find it in the city centre, very close to the Annecy Cathedral.
Every year, the first weekend of August, around 200,000 visitors gather in Annecy to enjoy one of the biggest pyrotechnic shows in Europe, the "Fête du lac", which includes 70 minutes of fireworks in rhythm with music, lights and special effects over the lake. Basically, an unmissable experience.
The Saint-Francis of Sales Church, listed as a historical monument, is located near the Palais de l'Île, across the Thiou river. Even if the facade seems a bit austere, the interior of the church is luxurious: the baroque style exposes its splendour with an organ, paintings and a magnificent altar. This church used to host religious relics, such as the graves of Saint Francis and Saint Joan of Chantal, which were there before being transported to the Visitation Basilica.
The Lac d'Annecy is the second largest lake in France. Take a long walk along it, or rent a bike if you're up for a longer tour, and admire the gorgeous scenery of the Alps. It has been an inspiration for many artists, such as Paul Cézanne, who made beautiful paintings of it. Don't miss the Lake Festival, an amazing fireworks show who takes place every year in August.
The Cathédrale Saint-Pierre is a Roman Catholic cathedral also listed as a national monument by the French government. You cannot miss its organ, built between 1840 and 1842 by Nicolas-Antoine Lété, an organ builder of the French king. A lot of concerts are organised there, especially in summer.
The Venice of the Alps of course deserved its own festival. Every year, between the end of February and the beginning of March, masked persons wander into the city and pose on the streets, parades are organised and fabulous costumes are displayed around the city and along the canals.
Every year, in June, several countries compete to become the best animation film, in several categories. At this festival, which often paves the way to the Oscars and the Palms for animated movies, you can enjoy premieres and benefit from open air showings on the Pâquier lawn.
This museum presents a wide collection of documents concerning the history of animation: it includes drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs, videos and several cinematographic artefacts. The entry to the permanent exhibition is free and the the collection is very interactive, in order to attract children too.
Every year, in July, Annecy rules over the night: during 4 evenings, some 60 representations involving magic, poetry, theatre, street shows and humour which bring laughter and smiles. The Noctibules festival is free of access and children will particularly appreciate some shows which are designed for them.
Perhaps the most popular eatery in Annecy at the moment, Le Semper Fi is a gem that will let you travel straight to the heart of Italy. The restaurant is a favourite for its aperitivo with piadine, cold cuts, Sicilian arancini and other delicacies, along with some great Italian wines, Martini and Spritz. Everything in a lovely ambience that includes a crackling fireplace and a Vespa displayed in a corner.
At the restaurant L'Esquisse, you will find a warm and zen atmosphere, a welcoming and smiling team and some dreamy food and wine that will tickle your taste buds. The chef cultivated a love for harmony and subtlety, and only uses fresh, seasonal ingredients to give you the best experience ever.
The two-Michelin-star chef Laurent Petit and his team offer an audacious and original cuisine, made of fresh local products, in a magical and contemporary dining room. For an even more sensorial experience, have a look at the "cave d'affinage", the refinery cellar, where some of the best French cheeses are conserved.
If you want to taste the real Savoyard cuisine in a rural ambience, then Chez Mamie Lise is the right place for you. This traditional, home-made cuisine exudes typical flavours and offers "tartiflettes", "reblochonnades" and "fondues", all hearty dishes made with local cheese.
This traditional French restaurant sublimates the basics and pays tributes to the classics. Between the numerous specialities, you can enjoy foie gras, oysters, duck, mussels and "tartes tatins". Also, a large wine cellar includes a great selection of the best French labels, from Bourgogne, Savoie, Val de la Loire and Vallée du Rhône.
Located in Veyrier du Lac, a small village next to Annecy, this restaurant was previously owned by the famous chef Marc Veyrat, who then let his assistant taking over the restaurant with an impressive result. This 5-star restaurant uses the products from the mountain, such as flowers, cheese and other flavours of the Alps, to create elegant, delicious and luxury dishes. A warm, elegant atmosphere with a lovely wooden furniture will complete your amazing culinary experience.
Une Autre Histoire is situated close by the highly touristic streets in Annecy and is a popular restaurant among both locals and tourist, due to the high quality food at very reasonable prices. The professional staff serves the French food in a warm and cosy environment.
Don't be repelled by the distance to go to this restaurant: even if it is a bit far from the old town, you won't be disappointed by the excellence of its cuisine. Hold by a young couple who loves fish, especially common dentex, a fish from the Mediterranean Sea, this restaurant uses fresh ingredients to create delicious dishes and has become a trendy place in Annecy.
As the name suggests, this is an Italian restaurant serving pizza and other specialities, and some even claims that it serves the best pizza in town. The chef prepares only uses fresh products, homemade pizza dough and the best ingredients for the topping. It is advisable to book in advance, as the restaurant tends to get really busy.
Bilboquet has a quiet and non-touristy atmosphere, and everything here is done with such attention to detail. The superb food, the great wine list, the ambience and the brilliant service make people come back for more. It is definitely worth a visit, although it might be a bit pricey.
Café Bunna is a tiny spot that you'll fall in love with the moment you walk through the door. Olaf, the owner of this cute cafe, and his wife will please you with an excellent coffee and cappuccino, along with some delicious food, from the French classic croque monsieur to rustic grilled sandwiches, homemade cakes and other kinds of tasty pastries.
World Champion of Pastry in 2005 and "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" (Best Worker in France) in 2007, Philippe Rigollot is a passionate pâtissier who welcomes you to his fantastic boutique and tearoom to offer you a mouth-watering experience. Enjoy the lovely atmosphere of this Parisian-style patisserie, a wonderful place for teatime, and lose yourself in a world of Macarons, chocolates and other exquisite homemade pastries.
This little cafe is particularly popular among locals, who stop for breakfast or just a quick coffee especially on Sunday, when the market takes place. At the buvette (a French term that means a place, usually small, where beverages are sold) you will find simple but delicious breakfast foods such as cheese, cold cuts, baked products and homemade jam.
The perfect address for a cappuccino or a brunch (remarkable is the salmon and mozzarella croque monsieur), this cafe & concept store entices with delicious food and drinks and, most of all, a great location. After your break, pay a visit to the adjacent exclusive boutique: you'll find some great clothes and accessories to add to your collection.
Because of its lovely location, many clients use to call this small cafe a "little paradise" and feel here like at their second home. Friendly staff, good music (some nights, the cafe even hosts live bands just outside), a relaxed atmosphere and excellent food and drinks (particularly appreciated are the speculoos, typical cinnamon biscuits) will let you have a great time here.
The lovely cafe La Bicyclette Rose ("The Pink Bike") is a favourite for its excellent brunch - even considered the best in town - and regular lunches. The friendly owners like to pamper visitors serving a good coffee in adorable cups and tea in cute little teapots, but also offer a large menu which includes several healthy options and delicious desserts (you should definitely try their "crème brûlée").
Café Curt is a must-go both for breakfast and the aperitivo time. A friendly staff serves an excellent breakfast, as well as always new good beers and a selection of cold cuts. Otherwise, if you visit Annecy in winter, you might want to come and try their hot wine to warm you up.
La Queue du Coq is, without any doubt, the best cocktail bar in town. The friendly staff serve an impressive selection of exquisite cocktails and are also happy to share some recipes with guests. Have a great time in a relaxed atmosphere and admire the bartenders preparing their original creations.
Beer O'Clock is an easy-going, tech-savvy bar where, in order to benefit from the numerous brews on offer, you have to buy credit on a magnetic card through a computer device at the counter, then choose a glass and help yourself at the different beer taps. This cool, modern concept let you taste different flavours, and you can always ask for some cold cuts if you get hungry after tasting some craft beers.
Join a party in Gatsby's style at the Fitzgerald Club, a cosy, intimate cabaret bar with a lovey decor and a friendly staff. Magicians, dancers and musicians will keep you entertained in the crazy atmosphere of the Roaring Twenties and, if you feel hungry, you can also order small dishes to accompany your drinks.
A friendly staff awaits you in this gloomy-looking, yet welcoming Irish pub, with its relaxing atmosphere, good rock music, excellent beers and local cheese and cold cuts. Its menu also features great food such as burgers, fish and chips, mussels and stews, as well as several Savoyard specialities.
In the heart of the old town, Le Finn Kelly's is an authentic Irish pub that offers a good selection of beers and eventually organises funny events. It is a great place to start a night out: there you can borrow a table game or play table football, perhaps watching a football or rugby match on screen, and also meet new people, as this is a popular hangout among youngsters.
Annecy can break its bourgeois and quiet image and reveal its wildness at Le Brise Glace, a concert hall mixing well-known bands and open scenes, where small bands and amateurs can have their show. Fresh and young, Le Brise Glace gives you the guarantee to spend a great evening.
This iconic, luxury shopping brand, founded in Paris in the early 1920s, has now many locations worldwide and is also in Annecy. Here, you can find all the finest fashion brands, such as Ralph Lauren, Armani, Burberry, Hermès, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino. It also houses decoration and jewellery stores.
During their honeymoon, right after the end of WWII, Jean-Pierre and Renée Pochat learnt the art of hat manufacturing and took over a hat workshop in Annecy, their hometown, which the Burdin family had run for more than 40 years. Today, in this century-old shop, you can find the most exquisite hat you have ever dreamt. Its large choice and excellent quality make this traditional and authentic boutique a must-go.
Founded in 1935, the Fromagerie Gay has become an institution in Annecy and is the heaven of cheese-lovers. Pierre Gay, the cheese maker who has run his grandparents' store since 1982, was voted "Meilleur Ouvrier de France" (Best Worker in France) in 2011, and now selects and offers only the very best Savoyard cheeses, even the ones that are not the most popular: if you want to taste the exquisite flavours of Reblochon, Chevrotin, Beaufort, Bleu and all the different goat "tommes" (an Alpine cheese), you should definitely pay him a visit.
This lovely shop abounding of treasures is found in the heart of the city, in an old street full of fascinating artisan boutiques selling handicrafts. Here, traditional pottery is beautifully presented to form a colourful ambience, from mugs to pitchers, vases, pots and oven dishes.
This shopping mall includes around 50 shops, from fashion to food, through books and decoration. You will find both French brands and multinational stores, such as H&M or Sephora. Its innovative design and its open glass canopy are also the scene for art exhibitions.
Atelier du Floriste, an astonishing flower boutique in activity since 1996, talented designers will create the most creative and beautiful bouquets to satisfy every desire of yours. Whether you need a bouquet or another kind of creation, at the Atelier du Fleuriste you will get the highest quality work, always in the respect of the environment.
This lovely old bookshop offers the best of French literature, as well as Savoyard humanities and religious books. The wise advice of the staff makes this bookshop a key boutique in Annecy. Moreover, the location of La Procure is interesting if you want to take charming photographs.
France is the country of love, wine and also food. TOC - or "Obsessive Culinary Disorder" - is the boutique where you can give free rein to your passion and find the best accessories to help you. From molecular cuisine to the very basics, the team will know to answer all of your questions.
France can be visited visa-free for up to 90 days by citizens of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Malaysia, Israel, UAE and most countries in America. If you are unsure whether or not you need to apply for a visa, we recommend contacting the embassy or consulate in your country. International (non-Schengen) travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the Schengen zone. Citizens of Schengen countries, instead, can travel without a passport, but must have a valid ID with them during their stay.
No matter what time of the year you decide to visit this city, the "Venice of the Alps" will let you capture the beauty of its history and nature in each season. Many towns close to Annecy house winter sports resorts and open their doors in winter, so if you're interested in coming to the region for skiing on the French side of the Alps, you should definitely choose the cold season. Otherwise, if cold and skiing are not your thing, consider planning your trip in spring: even if summer means the best days in terms of weather (also, the lake is at its warmest), it is also when tourism is at its peak, so you'd do better coming in spring to enjoy the city on foot and admire the beautiful flowers blooming all along the canals. Annecy also has a bustling cultural scene, whose offer covers the whole year. The two main summer events are the Lake Festival (www.lac-annecy.com/fete-et-manifestation/1/209349-fete-du-lac.html), a spectacular pyrotechnic show over the lake, and the International Animation Film Festival (www.annecy.org), held respectively in August and June. If you come in the fall season, don't miss the chance to see the "Déscente des Alpages": every year in October, farmers take their livestock down from the mountains to the streets of the centre, where a number of artisans and farmers display and sell their products, and folk bands play all day. Another popular occurrence is the Venetian Carnival, which is very similar to the one in Venice and takes place between February and March. Finally, also in winter, the iconic Annecy Christmas Market (www.marchedenoelannecy.com) in the old town, held between the end of November and the beginning of January, is a must-see for visitors, who love to stroll along the canals in a magical atmosphere, and enjoy delicious local food or handicrafts.
Annecy is served by Geneva Airport, situated less than 50 kilometres from the city centre. You can reach the airport, or travel from there to Annecy in several ways. The first option is renting a car. There are several car rental companies in the airport where you can rent one, but if you decide to return it to the French sector you may be asked to pay an additional fee (same thing happens if you rent a car in the French sector and you return it to the Swiss one). Some of the companies at the airport are Avis (www.avis.ch), Budget (www.budget.ch), Europcar (www.europcar.ch) and Hertz (www.hertz.ch). Here you find more information about car rental companies: www.gva.ch/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-72. Buses also operate regularly to connect Geneva Airport to Annecy (as well as other French cities and winter sports resorts). If you search for a bus (www.gva.ch/en/Portaldata/1/Resources/fichiers/voyageurs/Cars_lignes_r_guli_res_GeneveAeroport.pdf), you will need to take a Transalis one (line T72), with many departures each day from the airport. Otherwise, you can also take one of the regular trains departing from Geneva-Cornavin Station (in the city centre), which you can reach in 6 minutes with one of the trains departing (5 times per hour) from the airport. SNCF (www.voyages-sncf.com) is the company that manages the railway service.
SIBRA (www.sibra.fr) runs the local transport system and links, with an efficient bus service, the communes of the Grand Annecy. Tickets (www.sibra.fr/voyages-occasionnels) can be purchased from the stations, the tourist information office and in kiosks (www.sibra.fr/points-de-vente), and travel cards are also available in these shops. The Espace SIBRA (21 Rue de la Gare) is the main transport information office, it opens 6 days a week and is close to the SNCF station. The same company also offer a bike rental service, called Vélonecy (www.sibra.fr/velonecy): more than 200 bikes can be rented and used to move around the city in the respect of the environment. You can choose between classic bikes, electric bikes and folding bikes (very quick to set up), and even if renting one daily, weekly or monthly, depending on how much you want to stay in Annecy (more information: www.velonecy.com / [email protected]). An alternative to SIBRA to stroll around Annecy city centre is the rental company Roul'ma Poule (www.annecy-location-velo.com), with two shops (in Annecy and Annecy-le-Vieux). There you can rent not only bikes (classic, electric or tandem bikes), but also rollers (www.annecy-location-velo.com/en/roller-rental-annecy), kayaks (www.annecy-location-velo.com/en/kayak-paddle-rental-annecy-le-vieux) and paddle boards (www.annecy-location-velo.com/en/paddle-boards-rental-annecy-le-vieux), for an amazing tour of the lake. Roul'ma Poule (Annecy) 4 Rue des Marquisats, Annecy +33 4 50 27 86 83 / [email protected] www.facebook.com/RoulMaPouleAnnecy Roul'ma Poule (Annecy-le-Vieux) 47 Avenue du Petit Port, Annecy-le-Vieux +33 4 50 23 31 15 / [email protected]
Taxis can be hailed at stands or along the street, but they can be hard to find, especially on Friday and Saturday evenings. Always make sure that the driver has a regular licence, before hailing one. GIE Taxis d'Annecy +33 4 50 45 05 67 www.taxi-annecy.net [email protected] Bardet Taxi +33 6 75 13 79 28 www.bardet-taxi.com Annecienne de Taxis & Transports +33 6 32 48 32 43 www.annecienne-taxis-transports.fr [email protected] Actuel Taxi 74 +33 6 98 83 75 75 / +33 4 50 08 08 90 www.actueltaxi74.com [email protected]
Stamps are available from kiosks and news agents. For mail overseas, it is advisable to visit a post office. Here you will find more information about the main post office, "La Poste - Annecy Cité du Lac", based at 1 Rue de la Poste: www.laposte.fr/particulier/outils/trouver-un-bureau-de-poste/bureau-detail/annecy-cite-du-lac/13991A.
The pharmacies open until late and are recognisable by a green cross on the front facade. Here you find 3 big pharmacies in Annecy: Pharmacie du Lac +33 4 50 45 26 41 15 Rue de la Préfecture, Annecy www.pharmacie-du-lac-annecy.com Pharmacie Centrale +33 4 50 45 02 19 30 Rue Sommeiller, Annecy www.pharmacie-centrale-annecy.fr Pharmacie du Buisson +33 4 50 23 13 36 18 Clos du Buisson, Annecy-le-Vieux www.pharmaciedubuisson.com