My friend came to visit me for the weekend so after spending a day exploring Geneva, we decided to go and discover somewhere different. I had heard so many beautiful things about Annecy and my friends had actually visited it the previous week and said it was a must. So we looked at blabla car and saw some very cheap prices for Annecy (4 Euros per head) so we booked it and headed over for the day. It took approximately one hour and a half, and we arrived around 14.00.
As we walked to the first café we could see we were mesmerized by it’s beauty. The Annecy Lake is surrounded by gigantic green mountains and there is a river passing through the little village separating the most beautiful buildings. The town is bursting with color, life and history.
History of Annecy:
Annecy has a lot of history due to its position between Geneva and Italy. In 1AD this was a Roman colony. Throughout the middle ages it was part of the holy Roman Germanic Empire. In 1400 it became part of Savoy territory, who rebuilt this town after a devastating fire. In 1860 it became French territory due to a treaty signed between Napoleon III and Camillo Benso (count of Cavour). Due to it's historical past, Annecy now has a medieval touch to its beautiful architecture, which makes it a very special town. It almost gives a fairytale impression.
What to visit in Annecy:
Walking around the lake, sitting in the European Gardens is a must. Just sit and take in this spectacular view. Also do not forget to see the city town hall Hotel de Ville if you are there. It is a very impressive building that was built in 1855. If it is a beautiful warm day you can rent a bicycle for a nice tour along the lake or instead a paddleboat for a tour across the lake.
Pont des Amours.
We went for a walk towards the lake and the Pont Des Amours. The Pont des Amours is a very well known bridge known for its myth that if two lovers kiss on the bridge then they will stay together forever. This is a real sweet concept but the bridge itself is a beautiful thing to see purely for its view over the lake and the mountains in the background.
Palais de L’isle.
One of the first things you will see as you enter Annecy center is the Palais de L’isle. It is one of the oldest buildings in Annecy, built in 1132. Now it is a local museum but In it’s history, this building is known to have been the home to the Lord of Annecy, a prison, a courthouse and the administrative quarters of the Counts of Geneva. It is a very symbolic landmark of Annecy worth to be seen.
Our first stop in Annecy was to go and see the famous Chateaux D'Annecy, where you will be treated to an incredible view over this town. Now the chateaux has been bought by the town and turned into a museum, which now contains an art exhibition, a permanent furniture exhibition and an armory room. Furthermore there was a second exhibition that contained the history of fishing and of aquatic life in Annecy Lake, which I found a lot more interesting due to its uniqueness and its interactivity.
St. Peters Cathedral.
On your way down to the center, you must not forget to see St. Peters Cathedral, which was build in the 16thcentury. This used to be a temple but became a Roman Catholic cathedral in 1822. This is another important landmark of Annecy that must be visited.
Walk down the River.
We then took a stroll back down to the center of the village crossing the little bridges and exploring small back streets. Annecy is also called the "Venice of the Alps" due to its similarities to the one and only Venezia. As you walk down the river, tou are surrounded by beautiful pastel coloured houses and sweet little cafés. In fact we started feeling slightly peckish around 16.00 so we found a cute crêperie called Bar La Sapiniere, we sat outside (the fur throws attracted us) and decided to have a crepe break. I had bananas and honey on mine whilst my friend went for the more classic nutella. If you are looking for a place to sit down and just admire the surroundings i recommend this place as the pricing is very adeguate and the crêpes were divine.
Basilica of the Visitation.
After the crêpe we thought it would be a good idea to discover a couple of more historical things before returning to Geneva. So we walked towards the Basilica of the Visitation. This is an impressive church built between the end of 1800’s and the beginning of 1900’s. It is a spectacular, gothic styled church.
St. Francois de Sales Church.
This church on the other hand is a very interesting building that was built as early as 1614, and during the French Revolution it served the purpose of being used as barracks and later as a workshop. However in the nineteenth century it was converted into an Italian Church.
After visiting all these beautiful monuments and architectual gems, we took some beautiful pictures and headed back towards the station where we were to catch the coach back to Geneva. The coach is also a very quick and efficient way of transport if you have the option, but unfortunately there aren’t many options within actual Geneva.
We used Flixbus : https://www.flixbus.com
All in all, I was very impressed with Annecy, as were many people I know who have been there, so if you do find you have a spare day, I would highly recommend you take the day out and explore this beauty.
How to reach Annecy:
Depending on where you are there are various ways of reaching Annecy. The easiest (and closest) being travelling by plane to Geneva and then taking a connecting bus, train or blab la car.
Once you’re in Geneva you can take the train from Gare Cornavin to Aix-les-Bains-le-Revard (direction Grenoble) and from here change for Annecy. Another route is passing through Annemasse. For the timetable check on the website: https://www.sbb.ch/en/home.html
You can always take Flixbus, which you catch from Place Dorcière in Geneva and it will take you to Annecy bus station in 50 minutes. I find this option a lot easier and cheaper as you do not have to change anywhere and the tickets can cost as cheap as 5 Euros one way. www.flixbus.com
Finally you can try taking blabla car, which is a quick and cheap option however there are not always cars available.
Finally you can fly to Lyon, which is 125 km from Annecy, and a connecting train & coach will take you to Annecy.
You can take Ouibus from Gare Lyon-Perrache and in 1H45 you will arrive in Annecy Gare. Tickets are priced at 9 Euros. To reserve your ticket book here: http://fr.ouibus.com/fr
You can also take a direct train from Lyon Part Dieu and in 2H approximately you will reach Annecy. Prices are around 20 Euros.
You can also arrive to Paris however this is a longer and more expensive option. From Paris Gare de Lyon you take a 4H train to Annecy changing once in Lyon. Tickets cost between 70-110 Euros. For more information on the trip, consult the website: https://www.voyages-sncf.com/train/trajet/paris/annecy
I would not recommend the bus because the trip is a 20H journey.
What is the best time to go?
I would suggest in spring or summer. The village is beautiful and filled with outdoor-seated cafés; there is nothing better than sitting in a beautiful village under the sun with a cold, refreshing drink.
If you do prefer going in the winter however, the cafés do have fur blankets and outdoor heaters; and a hot chocolate followed by a nutella crêpe is life.