France: 8 essential things to do in Annecy and around the lake

by Destination(s) Europe
Published: Last Updated on

📌 Read in / Lire en : Français (French)

If you want to find yourself a moment of peace while enjoying the attractions of a city, then take a trip to Annecy. This pearl of Haute-Savoie, in the east of France, has become one of the most popular tourist destinations for French people. Europeans are not insensitive to its charms, either. Annecy is not lacking in natural and cultural riches, and a fascinating history. This jewel of the Alps has plenty of activities in store for you to try out and magnificent landscapes to capture. To help you once there, here are eight essential things to do in Annecy and its surrounding region.

🏔️ In the Austrian Alps. Another popular destination in this beautiful mountain range is Salzburg. See our essential list of things to see in this beautiful region.

🗒️ What you need to know before your trip to Annecy

Before starting our list of things to do in Annecy, here are some tips for your next trip.

What is the most beautiful shore of Lake Annecy?

We start with a tricky question because, let’s face it, there are few places around Lake Annecy that are not worth a visit. We love the beach of Talloires on the east bank, which has a view of the mountains and endless entertainment to offer. But if you want to enjoy a sublime landscape, the more southern beach of Angon is for you. Although there is a charge for it in high season (to ensure your safety), it is the best place to swim as its water is so clear.

Where to go to see Lake Annecy from above

There are several breathtaking viewpoints around Lake Annecy. We love the view offered by Mont Veyrier, which culminates at more than 1200 meters above sea level, and above all value its accessibility. To the east of the lake, the Roc de Chère also offers a beautiful view, especially of the Château Duingt. Finally, another essential place to see Lake Annecy from above is the Col de la Forclaz. It is an exceptional place to contemplate the expanse of the water below.

Which hotel should you choose in Annecy?

Due to the beauties of the region, the prices of hotels around Lake Annecy are not cheap. Luxury establishments follow one another, with a strong emphasis on the well-being of visitors. In this vein, you have Les Tresoms, Lake and Spa Resort, a magnificent establishment, colourful and equipped with a spa and a magnificent panorama from the room or the outdoor swimming pool.

At more affordable rates and with all the convenience of the brand, you can also opt for the Best Western Hotel International, right in the centre of Annecy. Unlike the first hotel, you won’t have your feet in the water, but you can still take advantage of the establishment’s designer spa, and all for a hundred euros a night.

Finally, if you want an unforgettable stay in Annecy, have a look at the Imperial Palace! A caring staff, a magnificent view of the lake, a spa, and a casino, all in a high-standing building with large, tastefully decorated rooms. A touch of luxury with a price tag to match.

If the view from your room is what counts for you, here’s our selection of hotels with a breathtaking view of Lake Annecy.

🛎️ Further north. If you’re making a detour to Geneva, don’t miss our exclusive selection of hotels on the shores of Lake Geneva. A luxurious rest guaranteed!

🔝 Eight essential things to do in Annecy

So much for the practical side, here are what we believe to be the eight essential things to do in Annecy.

Walk and swim in Lake Annecy

We cannot mention Annecy without mentioning its famous lake. It is the main tourist attraction of the city. The translucent waters of the lake reflecting the Alps that surround it. This is the first thing you should look for after you put down your suitcase, especially since the magnificent setting of this lake lends itself to many activities.

First of all, a bike ride. This practice is rooted in the habits of travellers and locals alike. You will find several rental points around the lake, and you can do the complete tour by following the greenway, about 33 kilometres of cycle paths. You can then enjoy many viewpoints and find small, somewhat isolated beaches where you can get away from the crowds, even in the summer.

The calm and clarity of the waters of Lake Annecy also invite you for a swim. Put some freshness in the summer heat by taking a dip at one of the dozen beaches offered by this lake:

  • Albigny beach
  • Angon beach (our favourite)
  • Duingt beach
  • Talloires beach (the liveliest)
  • Marquisats beach
  • Imperial beach
  • The beaches of Veyrier-du-Lac
  • Menthon-Saint-Bernard beach
  • Doussard beach
  • Saint-Jorioz beach
  • Sevrier beach

Apart from swimming, you can indulge in water activities such as water-skiing (Club Servier Annecy , Skiwake74 , etc.), wakeboarding, or diving.

Paragliding in Annecy

In addition to cycling, you also have the possibility of discovering Annecy in a different way by paragliding. This will give you a unique view of the lake and the surrounding Alps. Moreover, Annecy regularly hosts the world championship of this discipline. It is therefore not for nothing that it is the most visited site in Europe by paragliding enthusiasts and the most popular activity in the area.

Boat trip in Annecy and cruise on the lake

As we have just said, Lake Annecy offers many activities, and the boat trips are among the most popular. There is no shortage of boat rental companies and various choices of boats are available to you, from pedal boats to motorboats that can be driven without a licence. You even have the option of a mini-cruise on Annecy’s famous “Dragonfly” boat-restaurant, to enjoy all the natural attractions offered by the lake and a good meal.

The old town of Annecy and its canals

Among all the things to do in Annecy, visiting the old town and its canals is a must. This is one of the best ways to soak up the cultural and historical heritage of the city’s glorious past.

Indeed, this city’s nickname, the “Venice of the Alps“, is thanks to its historic district and the Thiou canal which crosses it. You can walk through its cobbled streets and arcades and follow the canal along the Louis-Lachenal promenade which will take you through pretty passages lined with trees. You can also take the opportunity to take beautiful photos and do some shopping.

A restaurant outing

Getting to know Annecy also means discovering its local gastronomic specialities. And what better way to do it than by eating in one of the excellent restaurants that abound in the old town? There are also “tourist” restaurants, as they are known, serving both typical Savoyard dishes and more refined dishes, of quite decent quality here too. We like Les Cimes, which is value for money, or even, if you want to really treat yourself, the Michelin-starred Restaurant Vincent Favre Félix.

Les Cimes | 19 Avenue du Rhone, Annecy

Restaurant Vincent Favre Felix | 15 Abbey Road, Annecy-le-Vieux

Attend the Lake Festival

The Annecy Lake Festival is a pyrotechnic show rich in sound and light. It is one of the most important shows in the area, a real local tradition. It takes place every year on the first Saturday of August.

The fires are drawn from Lake Annecy and bleachers are erected nearby so that everyone can enjoy them. There is a charge for the show, but that doesn’t stop tourists and locals alike from flocking every year to party, listen to music, dance and admire the sights. (official site)

Explore the Gorges du Fier

This is a short walk to a natural site about ten kilometres west of Annecy (official site). The Fier gorges are the result of the erosion of the rock by water, which has created a large canyon more than 25 meters high. These gorges are a special natural site, and the bravest among you can cross them along the secure footbridges that run along the bed of the torrent.

Visit villages around Annecy

If you want to withdraw a little from the centre of Annecy to discover the hidden treasures of the area, we advise you pay a visit to one of these charming villages:

  • Annecy-le-Vieux : Different from old Annecy which corresponds to the old town, this village is home to Albigny beach and the restaurant Le clos des sens, which has three stars in the Michelin guide.
  • Veyrier-du-Lac (official site): Located 5km at the foot of Mount Veyrier, this is a popular place for its hiking trails which offer a superb views of Lake Annecy.

Well, we hope that this selection of things to do in Annecy, France, has helped you prepare for your trip. Any other suggestions? Share them in comments below.

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