I have been visiting the beautiful city of Annecy since I was a baby as this is where my mum is from. It is situated in the Haute Savoie region and often referred to as ‘The Pearl of the Alps.’ My grandmother lives in a central apartment and had been shielding alone, so when the opportunity arose, we booked flights to keep her company. We decided to stay for two weeks so I was excited to do some exploring and fully embrace Annecy life. I really wanted to showcase some of my favourite moments with you.
The gorgeous, vast Lake Annecy (Lac D’Annecy) is the centre of the Annéciens’ universe. It is peppered with colourful pedalos and speedboats, bobbing on the surface and awaiting tourists. The stunning mountains tower over the water, photo bombing all of my holiday snaps. Throughout the last few years they have added a cycle path which covers the entire circumference of the lake, around 50km. We opted for this mode of transportation a few times during our stay as it is so well made. There are so many cyclists that special bike traffic lights accompany zebra crossings so as to avoid accidents. One of my favourite days out was when my mum and I cycled half way round the lake to the village of Duingt.
Having the bikes meant that we could travel a little further than we would have wanted to on foot. The best part was being able to go fresh water swimming. No, we didn’t need to drive to the sea because luckily the lake is covered in beautiful sandy beaches. The shore is lined with churro vendors, lifeguards and sandcastles so once your eyes are closed, there is no difference to the real deal. In fact, I prefer swimming here because the water isn’t salty or full of jellyfish and I enjoy the novelty of hanging out with ducks. Sometimes we treat ourselves to portions of salty triple-cooked chips drowning in sugary ketchup.
These are three beaches which we frequent the most:
- Plage des Marquisats
- Plage Municipal, Sevrier
- Plage d’Albigny
There is a 4th place that I wanted to give an honourable mention to but didn’t visit this year and it’s Moon Beach. Would you believe that Annecy has its own beach club? They have sun loungers, cocktails and DJs with CO2 cannons which sounds amazing in normal life. However, I didn’t fancy my chances at social distancing so didn’t attend this year. I’m desperate to go back sometime with my friends because their Aperosé event is calling my name and I can picture us clinking glasses at sunset.
If you don’t enjoy the beach and you are more of flowers and grass person, don’t worry. There are plenty of luscious parks which border the lake including Le Jardin D’Europe which we visited a lot. It is a huge green space, covered in trees and benches so I enjoyed coming here to read or people-watch. It was my saving grace for the week that I was recovering from the worst sun burn of my life. Just look how picturesque it is here and check out my photography skills.
You can see the mountain range photo-bombing all of my holiday snaps and we can’t really ignore it. Mont Semnoz is one of the main attractions in the region, through sun and snow. During the Winter, you can go skiing, sledging and snow hiking with special shoes but they have adapted the resort to serve thousands of people in the Summer. We went to the summit by coach to check out the para-gliders, jumping off the runway. This region is world-leading for this kind of sport so there is always a rainbow of parachutes in the sky. You can get a great view of Mont Blanc from here which is worth the trip. Then we took a cable car all the way down to the next level where all the action was happening.
My favourite activity as a child was the Luge D’Été which is this incredible metal sledge ride which runs in Summer and Winter. Unfortunately, the queue was too long and we couldn’t be bothered to wait around. I highly recommend trying it if you come here because it’s super fun to bomb through the mountain on what is essentially a giant roller coaster/slide. They also had a terrifying vertical bike track called Black Mountain and some sort of go-karts called Runix. As my grandmother is in her eighties, we went on a walk instead. She loves foraging for mushrooms so we did this whilst waiting for the coach to pick us up.
We always end up doing a lot of walking on our visits because there is so much to look at. One of the most visited places is a beautiful church, up a large set of stairs and slopes, non-ironically called La Visitation. As well as being somewhere Francis of Sales worked, there are great views of the city below and it’s a good excuse to get your steps in. There are many churches in Annecy including an Italian one where I was baptised and my parents were married.
Almost everyday there is a market in the old town, selling fresh produce from the local farmers. We brought home some flowering broccoli and garlic from one of the stalls, to see if we could make it grow in the garden. So far so good. If you are more into clothes, makeup and home decor, you must visit the market in Place de Romains on Tuesdays. It is my ideal place – cheap secondhand clothes and beauty products where you can haggle and bargain hunt for hours.
If you are more into new clothes, don’t worry! There are lots and lots of boutiques and chain shops in the centre including one of my favourite malls – Courier. It is home to a Sephora, Zara, Fnac (amazing multimedia shop), Jennyfer, Bizzbee, Monoprix plus many more. I also love that they have free Wifi.
As well as shops, there are often exhibitions and events taking place. Covid-19 put a stop to a lot of the usual Summer affairs such as The Festival of the Lake which usually attracts many people around the water for spectacular fireworks. We were able to attend an exhibition on Animated Film commissioned by the castle and a display of modern Annecy related art which I enjoyed very much.
A business which needs its own section is Glacier Des Alpes ice-cream stall. This is without a doubt, the best gelato I have ever tried and they also have a second stand right outside Courier called Le Glacier Carnot. Here are the reasons why they are my number one.
- The most delicious and unique flavours such as Tourment D’Amour cake (my new favourite), licorice and chestnut.
- The marketing/pricing twists has you ordering 2 scoops instead of 1.
- The chantilly cream is complimentary.
- You ALWAYS get a FREE third flavour to “try.”
- The cups and spoons are bio-degradable.
I hope my trip, although tamer than most of my holidays due to obvious reasons, has inspired you to give Annecy a chance, once it is safe to travel again. It really is a magical place.