Last Updated on 22/11/2023
In this part about the sights around Annecy, let’s look north and see there the long “home” mountain of Annecy called Semnoz, the gorge du Fier river, Montrottier castle and the Secret garden in the village of Vaulx. More details about each below.
Around the lake Annecy
Around Annecy 1. Mount Sambuy
Around Annecy map
Bus to Semnoz – link.
Let’s start from the nearest point – Semnoz Annecy’s home mountain. You can climb almost from the center – Visitation Church. Quite quickly you can get to a small zoo with ungulates. It is well felt here that the mountain is homely – many people, children walk, cyclists jump, paths are trodden in all directions. The mountain is well-trodden, but not well-groomed – the forest is not very interesting.
This is how the mountain looks from the opposite bank. Visitation Church is visible on the right.
Further it makes sense to reach the viewing point Croix Chuguet. It is too far to go to the top, and most importantly, it is not interesting, since the views are rare, and Croix Chuguet is almost the only worthy place.
View of the city from the Belvedere Grande Jeanne next to the zoo.
A highly simplified map hanging on a mountain. It downplays distances and doesn’t show numerous trails.
This is how you can see the lake from the Croix du Cret.
And so – from Croix Chuguet. This is a small rock with an open view, to which you need to go down a little from the main path.
You can see Menthon castle
And Duingt Castle, where the boats turn around on a circular route.
Further up the mountain there is a cable car, a summer toboggan run, a minicart, local products from mountain farms, an alpine botanical garden, a rope park. The lake itself is poorly visible from the top / not visible, at least from photographs, but they promise a view of Mont Blanc in good weather. In winter, there is a ski lift on the mountain.
Gorge du Fier (les Gorges du Fier)
How to get to gorge du Fier
There are two ways to get there. The first – through the village of Chavanod, the second – through Lovagny.
By bike. For a quiet bike ride, the first way (Chavanod) is much more pleasant – a calm road, few cars (10 km). A higher level road passes through Lovagny, heavy trucks meet there, which is not very pleasant, besides, this road is longer. To make it easier to navigate in Annecy itself, you can take a free map where you take the bike.
By car, on the contrary, it is more convenient to go through Lovagny, so as not to wind along the local road. A large parking lot is located on the side of the castle. It takes 10-15 minutes to walk from there to the gorge. Parking near the entrance to the gorge is small and inconvenient.
By bus. Bus 32 (link) goes to Lovagny and Vaulx. However, its schedule is reminiscent of some ancient times, when people went to the city in the morning to the market, and in the afternoon they went home. Bus 12 (link) runs a little more often, but still it’s not even once an hour, but less often
20 thousand years ago, the glacier that stretched on the site of Lake Annecy began to melt and turn into a lake. The water level was 15 meters higher than now. At that time, the Fier River was formed, which for thousands of years created gorge du Fier in soft rocks.
The gallery for visitors began to be built in 1868. It passes at an altitude of 20-30 meters (the gorge itself is 70 meters deep).
The mouth of the gorge is very narrow, so after especially heavy rains, the water can rise to a level of 26 meters in just a few hours. In the gorge you will see a bar on which the levels of water rise during severe floods are marked, and at a small photo exhibition near the exit you can see photos of how it looked.
Above the gorge you can see two bridges – a modern railway and an old one, from which, according to legend, Lord Pontwer threw a page boy.
About this is a romantic story of love and hatred of a page boy for Lady Diane, who decided to cheat on her bad husband, Lord Montrottier, with Lord Pontverre. The case, of course, ended badly: Lord Pontverre, naturally, got away with it, the boy died, and Lady Diane was locked up on the top floor of the tower for the rest of her life. You can read about this at the stone, which was probably placed by that husband in memory of the page at the place of his death.
Montrottier Castle ( Chateau Montrottier)
On my second trip to Annecy, I was persuaded to visit the castle of Montrottier (link), where that lady Diana, who had no luck with a page, was once locked up. According to the website, it seemed mediocre to me, and it turned out to be so (at least without a special tour of the additional rooms).
The oldest building dates back to the 13th century, others – to the 15th century.
Several rooms, they have a little of this, a little of that.
Several times a day, they conduct tours of the halls with weapons and the oriental collection, for which you need to sign up at the box office. Children are given medieval-style costumes for free. Girls, of course, happily dress up as princesses.
Secret Garden ( Jardins Secrets )
Going even further into the countryside (Vaulx village, bus 32), you can visit the Jardins Secrets.
The Secret garden (Jardins Secrets) can be combined with the gorge, this is a one-day trip. The bike will have to ride on the road. Until the desired pointer appears, focus on the Vaulx pointer.
Oriental-style gardens were created by a married couple at the beginning of the 20th century and initially closed to the public. The visit is usually half accompanied, that is, first they tell you, and then they let you take pictures. But if you say that you do not know French, they will give you an English text and let you go.
The garden is small, but rather curious.
Other sights of the region – #Rhone-Alpes.