Located in South-Eastern France, Annecy seeks to be a marvellous secret that people-in-the-know carefully guard for themselves.
Less than an hour from Geneva, Switzerland, Annecy makes a fantastic day trip or weekend away.
Built around an ice-blue coloured lake, lined by the towering French Alps, there are few places we’ve visited as breathtakingly beautiful as this little town. Add into the mix a stunning old-town and a range of exciting activities just waiting for you and you’re onto a winner by any account.
Things to See and Do in Annecy
Soak Up Lake Annecy
The focal point of the own, Lake Annecy is certainly one of its highlights. Whether you take a dip, hire a paddle boat, join a lake cruise or just wander around enjoying the scenery, the lake is a beautiful place to be.
If you have more time, bikes are also available for hire and doing so makes for a fantastic day, so we were told.
Explore the Old-Town
With its beautiful canals (there’s a reason it’s known as the Venice of France), overflowing flower planters and stunning classic French buildings, the old town will welcome you to while away the hours. Keep your eyes peeled for Anncey’s old church that sits abridging two canals – it’s gorgeous and a perfect photo op.
Whilst you’re wandering, be sure to grab an icecream to cool down. I’m not sure why old town Annecy has so many gelato shops but I wouldn’t for a second complain! Do as we did and enjoy a tasty treat in the mid-afternoon sun.
Take to the Sky
Whether you’re looking for a massive adrenaline rush or something a bit more sedate, Annecy provides the perfect backdrop for your adventure. Both skydiving and paragliding is on offer in the area and though we didn’t have time to head out, we saw parachuters coming down and couldn’t help but look on longingly!
Check Out Gorges Du Fier
Just 10 kilometres out of town, Gorge du Fier welcomes visitors looking to immerse themselves in nature. With a beautiful walking track that snakes throughout the gorge, it’s a great place to unwind and see a different side of the French Alps.
Getting From Geneva to Annecy
With the town sitting approximately 45 minutes from Geneva, visitors are spoilt for choice in regards to transport options. Some of course are better than others though so consider all your options before deciding upon one.
We elected to take the FlixBus there and used the ride-sharing site, BlaBla Car on the way back.
Jumping onboard with the new sharing culture, we decided to try BlaBla car and came away with nothing but positive things to say. The premise is simple – people make journeys everyday with empty seats in their cars. BlaBla cars connects those with space to spare with people seeking a ride. It’s kind of like a safe, pre-planned hitchhiking website.
Online you’re able to check the reviews left from previous BlaBla’s to determine if you’re happy to ride with that driver and when you do decide on one, the funds are held until you’ve been picked up at the agreed time and place and delivered safely to your final destination.
Not only was our BlaBla Car ride cheaper than any of the other options, it got us home faster (in about 40 minutes) and offered more time options.
We looked into this option briefly as we do love the flexibility that having a rental car offers. It didn’t take long to rule this out though thanks to the sky-high prices of rental cars in Switzerland. If you’re bringing a rental in from elsewhere or have your own car then driving to Annecy would be a convenient option but not one worth pursuing just for the sake of this trip.
FlixBus is a bus company found throughout much of Europe. They offer reasonably priced tickets and a reliable service and for this reason, they’re one of our favourite modes of transport on the continent. The journey through FlixBus takes approximately 50 minutes.
Shuttle buses run frequently between Geneva airport and Annecy but due to the number of stops they make, they can take substantially more time than the FlixBus – depending on the number of stops your timetabled service will make, it could take upwards of two hours to complete the journey.
Though Geneva is well connected by rail, there is not a direct service between the two locations. This means that although it is possible to train, you’ll end up detouring via a different centre to do so. The high cost of this service and additional travel time clearly made it a no-go for us.
How Long Do I Need in Annecy?
This, of course, depends on just how much you want to do there.
We had planned on spending a night or two in Annecy but due to accommodation prices skyrocketing, we made the decision to base ourselves in Geneva and make a day trip across the border. We arrived into town at midday and left again at 5.30pm – though we could have happily stayed on in the city, we’d enjoyed our afternoon and felt OK about leaving.
I wouldn’t say we were excited to move on though – Annecy’s the kind of place it would be all too easy to visit and just stay put!
If you have more time than us, we’d definitely suggest booking a few nights in. The town’s relatively small but there’s a great deal to do in the area. Alternatively, just relax, eat your fill and enjoy the local shops – whatever you choose, it won’t be a challenge to fill your time there.
We had an amazing visit to this lovely little French town. It took us entirely by surprise and certainly left us wanting more of France.
Without doubt, we’ll be back to this part of the world!