Capital of the Haute-Savoie, Annecy is a city of Art with a magnificent architectural harmony. Walking around Annecy old town is a real delight. With its charming canals, its flower-bedecked banks, its small delightful bridges and its beautiful houses with colourful facades, Annecy carries really well its nickname of Savoyard Venice. How pleasant it is to stroll along its canals or walk around the lovely narrow pedestrian streets!
In the heart of the old town, the Île palace, a former prison and the Palais de Justice (law courts), is today home to the Annecy History museum. Near this symbolic building of the 12th century, the Sainte-Claire street is also an unmissable place during the visit for its beautiful arcaded houses. Towering over the town, the museum-castle, former residence of the counts of Geneva and the dukes of Genevois-Nemours, is dedicated to archaeology, ethnology, art, history and alpine lakes.
To complete this beautiful visit, there's nothing like a walk on the edge of the magnificent Annecy lake. Not to be missed! The Europe gardens, the Amours bridge spanning the Vassé canal, the Albigny avenue lined with plane trees and the Champ de Mars are magnificent sites great for relaxation. For the best way to discover the lake and surrounding mountains, visitors can take a trip on tourist boats or hire pedalos and small motor boats.
Pearl of the French Alps or Venice of the Alps, laudatory denominations are not lacking to name Annecy. The capital of Haute Savoie, the metropolis is famous for its lake and the majesty of its places. Encircled by the sumptuous massifs of the Bauges and the Bornes, the city is at the point of entry of the cluse of the lake. The landscape alternates plains and wooded hills, massifs bristling with conifers and the lake bordered by an extraordinary nature. It is in this magnificent setting that the city extends mainly on the plains.
Perched at 446 meters above sea level, the lake of Annecy is the second largest natural lake in France and the first lake in Europe for the purity of its waters.
Gallo-Roman city of importance, Annecy is already called the Rome of the Alps during its strong positions in the Catholic Reformation. It became the residence of the Counts of Geneva in the twelfth century and was definitively French on March 24, 1860 at the time of the annexation of Savoy by France. A history rich in twists and turns, a strong culture and an exceptional natural environment make Annecy an exceptional place. A multitude of activities and leisure are at your fingertips.
Among the attractions of Annecy, the lake is undoubtedly one of the most popular natural curiosities. Several beaches, sand or grass, will allow you to enjoy the sweet season. Kids and adults alike will find it fun to play beach volleyball or play a game of wild game of bowls. There is also a picnic area. At night, a night club opens its doors to dance until the end of the night in this magical setting. But the lake of Annecy also allows nautical activities from the calm to the most sensational. You can rent pedal boats or go wakeboarding. Three marinas and mooring area are available where you can enjoy the sailing. Finally, many walks around the lake are on the program.
To discover this magnificent landscape from another point of view, you can embark on a catamaran, on old wooden boats or on a private boat for an unforgettable cruise on the lake. The immense expanse of water is also discovered by the air in gyrocopter, in balloon or in ULM.
But Annecy is also a city of art and culture. Starting with its listed castle of the Historic Monuments. A house of the famous Counts of Geneva, the impeccably preserved building now houses a museum and ephemeral exhibitions. The imposing building combines a defensive style of impregnable fortress with the refined charm of the buildings of the Île-de-France. The visit continues through the old prisons of the Palais de l'Isle. Initially a toll zone on the Thiou, the building quickly became a prison, an asylum or a court, to today house the splendid exhibitions of the Center of Interpretation of Architecture and Heritage. In addition to the collections on display, you can visit the waterfront cells, the chapel and several rooms at various destinations.
During your walks in Annecy, you will be led to discover many old houses that have retained all their character like the Gallo house of Italian influence of the eighteenth century or the Hotel de Sales, residence of the Princes of the House of Savoy. The religious heritage is not to be outdone with the cathedral Saint-Pierre dating from the sixteenth century. Built in the old Annecy, the building is Renaissance-style exterior and Gothic style inside. Among other remarkable wood sculptures, you can admire an organ more than 7 meters high, classified to the Historic Monuments.
The market of old Annecy is a tradition that has been perpetuated since the Middle Ages. It is therefore every Wednesday that you will meet in the streets of old Annecy with local producers.
During February, you can participate in the Venetian Carnival of Annecy. No noise or drumming, more than 350 people wearing masks and Venetian costumes silently parading in the streets of Annecy and pose for the photographers. This event in tribute to the Carnival of Venice came quite naturally because Annecy was nicknamed the Venice of the Alps. An event not to be missed!
In early June, moviegoers will not miss the international animated film festival. This is the occasion for about 125,000 spectators to discover the animated films, cartoons, Chinese shadows or papier-mâché of 7,000 professionals gathered for the occasion.
It is during 4 days during July that the Noctibules of Annecy take place. Artists from all walks of life come together in various venues to produce crazy, quirky and funny shows for everyone's enjoyment. Jugglers, stuntmen and urban poets among others are on the program of these days dedicated to art.
The first Saturday of August, it is a pyrotechnic event of great renown that awaits you on the shores of the lake of Annecy: the feast of the lake. For two good hours you can witness a striking mix of music and fireworks. An unforgettable show not to be missed!
On the second Saturday of October, the "Retour des Alpages" is the opportunity to spend a day at the rhythm of the animals. Typically Savoyard dishes, a parade of animals and local crafts are the must-see attractions of this picturesque day with the charm of yesteryear.
Since the Middle Ages, the fair of the Saint-André is held the first Tuesday of December. There are not less than 5.5 kilometers of stands and 1100 local and regional producers who await you for this exceptional day.