Annecy - France
From the train station in Strasbourg, with a change in Lion we got to Chambery followed by a bus, we got to Annecy. It is a pleasant scenic ride of the french countryside and particularly beautiful landscape of the Alps as we approached Annecy.
Annecy is a little town below the Alps surrounded with mountains and a beautiful lake that once have been a glacier. This is where lake Annecy feeds into the Thiou River. It is very popular place for visits and holidays, especially for the higher class. It is known as the pearl of the French Alps.
This charming town is known for its Vieille Ville (old town), with its cobbled streets, winding canals and pastel-colored houses. Overlooking the city, the medieval Château d’Annecy, once home to the Counts of Geneva, and hides a museum with regional artifacts such as Alpine furniture and religious art, plus a natural history exhibit.
The old town is not very big but it differs from part to part. During our visit in July the town was so crowded with tourists, that it’s hard to pass in certain sections. Along the promenade there are a lot of restaurants almost all of them fully occupied as the sun sets. The smell of different cheeses cooked in various ways is dominant as you try to make your way.
A walk along the canals is very romantic especially at night.
Pier and park
Near the pier where the boat tours start their journey there is a little park. It is nice place to rest, walk or give your kids a chance to play at the playground. The park is full of different types of statues and activities. The wooden boxes that look like loud speakers are actually sound amplifiers. Just aim it at people having a conversation and put your ear inside to listen in on their conversation.
In front of the Town Hall / Hotel De Ville there is an interesting fountain of an open pink lotus with a moving leaves, great for selfies.
What we appreciated the most were the drinking water fountains that are placed at almost every corner around the old city. It is safe to drink the water.
If you want to visit a beach, you can find one within walking distance at the south east side of the city, after the marina, Plage Des Marquisats. It has natural tree shadows and little grass field for sunbathing, and overall is a very tranquille place whether you are bathing, or just enjoying the view. The waterfront is rocky and the water is a bit cold for our taste, but it was refreshing during the hot days in July.
There is another beach at Imperial Palace which is private beach with a day ticket but with more activities included, such as a paddling pool, a water slide, beach volleyball courts, badminton, ping-pong tables and more.
You can also visit the castle, which is located in the middle of the city. There is an entrance fee but it is a nice place to waste your time on a rainy day.
Lake Annecy Boat Tour
The boat tours around the lake run frequently and for one hour you can enjoy watching over the little villages around the lake and the splendid view of the mountains. Besides the regular 1 or 2 hour tours, there are more luxurious tours, like the ones with included dinner, which may be more romantic for couples. You get to see and learn about the various villas / castles / churches around the castle, with a spectacular view of the French alps.
You can also ride a bike around the lake and visit the little villages at your pace. You can rent different type of bikes and even with a toddler carriage from the few vendors that rent bikes.
Saint Blaise Church
Activities around Annecy
Annecy is a heaven for adventure sports. Canyoning, rafting, hydro speed, scuba diving, climbing, bungee jumping, sailing, paragliding…even a private helicopter ride. But it very difficult to do this things without a car because the meeting points are far from the city.
They have regular buses to the villages and you with a little research of the bus lines you can find how to get there, but be aware that during the weekends (especially Sunday) they are not so frequent or the lines are changed.
In France Sunday is a day for rest, so most of the stores and supermarkets don’t work or they close early. We found two supermarkets that were working, one near the train station, and one further towards the exit of the town (halal store, only for food, not alcohol). The restaurants that work on Sunday are closed on Monday.
Every last Saturday of the month there is a flea market at the old city with various antique objects, furniture, books, dishes etc. Obviously Saturdays are the days for shopping so the little streets are filled with stalks offering clothes, shoes, accessories, souvenirs, food etc. There are nice shops around the old city and few small malls. Prices vary from shop to shop.
The locals here are friendly and helpful. And they adore pets, especially dogs. You can take your dog almost everywhere. At the train we had two dogs and one cat traveling with us.
The days passed by very quickly and now we are packing for our next destination, Northern Italy…