A Daytrip to Annecy
11th July 2018 | French Alps
Transfers from Geneva to The French Alps are part and parcel of a ski holiday for a lot of people, whether driving or being driven. During that drive, you may often have driven, albeit slowly, through Annecy. Recognisable by the lake that gleams into view from the road, no matter what the weather, Annecy is a delight on the eyes during the transfer towards your final destination.
For many people, they have driven through Annecy countless times over many years, but never had the chance to stop, always desperate to get onto the slopes. The beauty of summer, is having the time to stop at those destinations you’d always wanted to.
Annecy is about an hour from Geneva airport, and about an hour and a half from The 3 Valleys, slightly further from Val d’Isere. This makes it really accessible, whether using it as a stop-over en route from the airport, or as a daytrip.
Annecy lake is the 3rd largest lake in France, and the town is often described as the Venice of the Alps. Expect quaint little streets and traditional French shops and restaurants which are a delight to wander around. The choice of activities is endless, and there is something to suit every party. In the summer, Annecy is a very popular holiday and daytrip location, and you’ll see people doing all sorts of sports from water sports, to roller blading and cycling. The whole of the lake is surrounded by little towns and villages, mountains and hills calling out to the explorer. This summer, Annecy has already seen 15,000 people descend on the town for the Etape du Tour bike race, and this Monday 16 July sees the Tour de France have a rest day, before departing from there on Tuesday. It is a popular destination that can handle big events.
There are lots of events that happen in and around Annecy throughout the year, including sporting events and national fetes, but I’m going to focus on day trips for this blog which can be undertaken whenever it suits your travelling schedule.
Cycling around the lake is not a feat to be taken lightly. If you set off with the romantic idea of hiring a tandem and cycling around the beautiful lake, then after about 20km you may lose all sense of romance. When you realise you’ve got another 20km to go and you’re faced with a fairly steep hill on the north easterly side of the lake, the tandem may be a moment of regret! Cycling around the lake is a fabulous day activity, and there are plenty of hire shops located around the lake. There is a cycle path that goes around most of the lake, but be aware if you’re attempting some or all of the cycle with children that there are still sections where you will be cycling on the road. The paths are in planning, and they’re slowly completing it. Take food and water, and look out for little boulangeries to stop at and grab a warm quiche to keep you going. There are some lovely little spots where you can park your bikes against a tree and dangle your feet over the water for a little break. To avoid the worst of the hill, I’d recommend going clockwise!
If cycling isn’t your thing, then head into the hills for a hike. The most famous hike is Mount Semnoz, at the top of which you’ll be rewarded by 360 degree views of the lake. This hike has lots of fairly mellow routes suitable for all of the family. On the east side there is also Mount Veyrier, a steeper option and about a 4 hour hike to the summit, but with equally astounding views.
If you fancy discovering the main heart of Annecy, stroll around the shops but be sure to visit the old town. The entrance to the labyrinth of cobbled streets is by the road and connected to the lake so you can’t miss it. With beautiful architecture and lots of shops to browse in this is a must. There are, of course, the chain shops and some lovely boutiques if you’re looking for something new to wear for the evening or onto the beach.
Where the lake melts into a river and passes into the old village, you can’t miss the Palais de l’Île, the oldest building in Annecy. Now a small museum (but better experienced from outside), it is the most popular photograph stop as the building is the exact width of the island it is placed upon. Built in the 12th century, this building was once a prison and is definitely worth being placed in the photo album from your trip.
To relax afterwards, head to one of the beaches. Swim in the lake, paddle board or even take out a pedalo. Temperatures in the summer range from late twenties to even getting as high as 40 degrees! So pack your water bottles and some change for a well needed ice cream.
For an elegant evening with a difference, hop on board a river cruise. These are a great way of seeing the lake in all its glory. If you’re in a big group or looking for a party with a difference, hire one out for an evening you won’t forget. A lovely evening activity if you have a night in Annecy.