Savoy Venice – Annecy attractions

Last Updated on 25/04/2023

Annecy, like many cities with canals, is called the second Venice, in this case adding “Savoy”. You can spend a day on beautiful Annecy old town. Menton castle, gorge du Fier, secret gardens, Mount Sambuy – another three days. If you want to relax and swim in the lake, you can spend 10 days not boring. It’s quite expensive though, in my opinion. More available with car. But as a base for regular trips to Chamonix, Annecy is not suitable even with a car – too far away. Just one visit to get to know.

Annecy. Around the lake
Annecy. Menthon castle
Sambuy mountain
Du Fier gorge, Montrottier castle, Secret garden

How to get to Annecy

By public transport Annecy can be reached either by direct high-speed train from Paris (4 hours) or via Lyon (2 hours + 2 hours). Lyon is quite worthy to spend at least a few hours on it.

By car from Germany: Swiss vignette plus 7 euros for the section from Geneva to Annecy. With crowded roads around Bern and Lausanne, the entire stretch from Mulhouse took 5 hours by car.

The letter P on the map below is free parking. The rest are paid. But in open-air paid parking lots there is a free period in the evening after 19 and in the afternoon around 12-14 hours. Those parking lots around the Visitation Church are at a decent height above the level of the old city and the lake.

A little history

A settlement on this site arose already in the Bronze Age.
The Romans built the city of Boutae. But in the 5th c. they were forced out by the barbarians to the hills, to the site of the village of Annecy-le-Vieux.

In the Middle Ages, a castle was built on the slopes of Mount Semnoz to protect the new village, respectively Annecy-le-Neuf. The walls were built in the 11th-13th centuries. Then the towers around the city and the palace for the counts of Geneva were built.

In 1394 the city passed from the counts of Geneva into the possession of the dukes of Savoy. It was even the capital of the duchy in the second half of the 15th – the first half of the 16th century.

During the French Revolution, Annecy came under French rule for a time. With the restoration of the monarchy, it returned to the House of the Dukes of Savoy and was again annexed to France in 1860.


Annecy is a big city, which actually consists of two: Annecy itself with the historical part and Annecy-le-Vieux, where there are also old houses, but still not the kind that ask for a camera. The railroad passes between the cities. The streets in both parts are cut in a very peculiar way, so entering the city and moving around it every time was not an easy task. Walking distance from the free beach in Annecy-le-Vieux to the city center 30-40 minutes.

There are a lot of people who have a rest in August. There are fewer people in July.

The map below shows the main major stores. In general, Leclerc and Auchan are better in terms of selection and often also prices than Carrefour. Each of these supermarkts has their own gas stations. There are many other shops around Auchan.

annecy beaches / annecy strände
enlarge Map data ©OpenStreetMap

Beaches in Annecy

Both free beaches in the city are crowded. The bottom is gray sand or small pebbles, grass on the shore. From the right corner of the lake to the next village there is a wooden deck, from which they also bathe, but it is a bit high to jump off. At the end of green line on the map there are the stairs. The water in the lake is very clean everywhere (it seems to be even drinking).

On the photo there are the end point of the green line. From here you can also climb the popular Mont Veyrier – Mont Baron route.

Annecy attractions

The Annecy old town is clearly visible on the map – the red roofs clearly mark the boundaries. I give a map, but in reality it is not needed.

Annecy Altstadt / Annecy old town
enlarge Map data ©OpenStreetMap

The main museums

  • in a small fortress in the middle of the river Palais de l’Ile
  • and in a large fortress on a hill.

Both museums, according to the description, seemed to me not so interesting. Both fortresses house the museum of the region.

The Palais de l’Ile was built in the 12th century and first served as the residence of the lord of Annecy. But after a couple of centuries, it was retrained into a judicial building, a prison and a mint.

The second fortress was built and rebuilt after fires from the 12th to the 16th century, served at first as a residence for the counts and their governors, but from the 17th century it was a barracks.

Of the interesting there are also the Church of Saint-Maurice (12-15 centuries) and the church of the 11th century Notre-Dame-de-Liesse.

But it is especially pleasant in Annecy just to walk along the old streets, under the uneven arches of houses, along the lake through the park, along the bridge over the river Thiou flowing from the lake, which, of course, is called the Lovers’ Bridge.

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In the evening, amateur artists perform on the square, and the people, roasted on the beach, fill the numerous cafes by the canals.

If you happen to be in the city on a Tuesday, Friday or Sunday, don’t forget to get up early and head to the old city. There is a market where you can find vegetables and fruits and local cheeses, bread and other products.

Church of the Visitation (La Visitation)

The church was built in the 19th century for the Convent of the Visitants – the monastic order of the visitation of the Virgin Mary, which was created in Annecy and has its base here. The church contains the relics of the saints who formed the order, so it is a pilgrimage.

The church is located on a hill above the city. From here you can go to the nearest, “home” mount of Annecy – Semnoz.

What to visit around Annecy

The lake and the surrounding mountains at Annecy – more about them in the following parts:
Around lake Annecy
Menthon castle
Mount Sambuy and around
Gorge du Fier river gorge and around

All topics on the region – #Rhone-Alpes.

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