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Annecy Travel Guide

A serene natural landscape embodying all the traditional charms of the Savoie, Annecy is an enchanting setting to reconnect with nature and refresh the spirit.

About Annecy

Tucked away in southeastern France an hour south of Geneva, the Alpine town of Annecy enjoys a unique position at the northern tip of an impossibly picturesque aquamarine lake overlooking the surrounding snow-capped mountains.

Thanks to a boom in silk manufacturing during the 19th century, Annecy is the largest city in Haute-Savoie. Thankfully, the well-preserved town grew without harm to its idyllic surroundings, and today, it is an ideal hub for experiencing the numerous and varied riches of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region: lush forests, looming peaks, bucolic pastures, crystal clear waters, and traditional Alpine villages that look as if they could have fallen out of a storybook. 

Things to do in Annecy

If you’ve heard of Annecy, you have surely heard of its star attraction. A glacial lake formed 15,000 years ago by melting ice from the Alps, Lac d’Annecy is instantly recognizable by its exceptional turquoise waters and breathtaking mountain panoramas. Dubbed the “purest lake in Europe” (thanks to strict environmental regulations and seven translucent rivers that feed into it from the surrounding peaks), it is one of the largest in France, as well as an internationally admired vacation and water sports destination. It is also the starting point of Le Thiou — the river around which Annecy was built in the Middle Ages — which drifts out of the lake and winds down through the Vieille Ville (Old Town) via three glimmering, flower-lined canals (you may have also heard Annecy called the “Venice of the Alps”), eventually flowing into the Gorges du Fier and emptying into the Rhône. Following its banks offers a pleasant and picturesque walk that gets you right into the Old Town from Cran-Gevrier.

Water Sports

Naturally, there is no shortage of water sports offered here, and if the place you’re staying doesn’t offer a particularly desired hobby, you are sure to find a local company that does. From sailing, rowing, fishing, and scuba diving to water skiing, wakeboarding, and wake surfing, there is an aquatic activity here to tickle anyone’s fancy. And if sun-basking is more your speed, you’ll be happy with the 11 beaches that circle Lac d’Annecy alone.

Col de la Forclaz de Montmin

Arguably the best view in the area. The Col de la Forclaz de Montmin is a twisting mountain pass that stretches nearly 4,000 feet, offering a truly spectacular panorama over the lake and the surrounding mountains. Whether you plan to travel it by car, bicycle, or foot, there are a few different routes that will get you to the top: on the north side, start from either Menthon-St-Bernard or Talloires (the latter of which offers an additional view of the beautiful Ruphy Castle on the Duingt Peninsula), or go for the more challenging southern slope that begins in Vesonne. Regardless of which way you choose, expect plenty of restaurants, souvenir shops, and viewing terraces (keep an eye out for paragliders!).

Hot-air ballooning

What better way to see such a spectacular region than from above? Achieve a bird’s eye view of the Alps with one of the many local companies that offer guided hot air balloon flights. From soaring over the peaks of Mont Blanc and the Aravis and Bauges mountain ranges to descending upon the glittering waters of Lake Annecy, Lake Aiguebelette, and Lake Bourget, it is an extraordinary and unforgettable way to discover the Haute-Savoie.

Visit the old town

Annecy’s renowned Vieille Ville dates all the way back to the Roman era and exploring it is a labyrinthine journey through winding alleyways, cobbled streets, charming architecture, and pastel-painted homes. When you hit the end of Rue Saint-Claire (one of the main streets known for its many arcade restaurants), you’ll find the Porte Perrière and the Porte Saint-Claire — fortified passages that were the original entrances to the city — which mark the edge of the neighborhood. 

Pont des Amours

An emblematic symbol of Annecy. A metal footbridge that connects the Jardins de l’Europe — a large wooded park — to the bustling Pâquier esplanade, the Pont Des Amours is a must-see town landmark for visitors. Stretching over the Canal du Vassé, with its colorful paddle boats, and shaded by centuries-old trees, this photographic bridge presents a sublime view of Lac d’Annecy and the nearby Swan Island. And it lives up to its name: urban legend has it that lovers who meet for a kiss in the middle will be united for life — don’t be surprised to see a bit of PDA!

Palais de l'Ile

A former stronghold, prison, and courthouse designed in the shape of a ship in the middle of the Thiou Canal, the Palais de l’Île is Annecy’s most recognizable façade and an important cultural stop on any tour. Although it was rebuilt several times, the original stone structure dates back to the 12th century, and the building has been listed as a historical monument since 1900. Today, it serves as an art and history museum; enter to view medieval prison cells, courtrooms, and dungeons, as well as see the ancient triangular chapel and turret.


Fondly referred to as “the pearl of the French Alps,” it is a destination for families, couples, solo travelers, leisure seekers, and adrenaline junkies alike… and isn’t hard to see why. Annecy’s myriad luxury resorts, hotels, and chalets — coupled with its distinct proximity to both water and mountains — make it an intensely versatile hotspot that draws tourists like a magnet year-round. 

Where to stay in Annecy

stay at

Le Clos des Sens

A member of Relais et Châteaux – a private club comprising 540 exceptional houses – Clos des Sens prides itself on offering guests tailored luxury experiences. Perched on a hill above Annecy, this discreet 5-star hotel features just 11 rooms, each with a uniquely designed fireplace, a balnéo spa bath, and a lake-view balcony. But the real draw here is the three-starred Michelin chef, Laurent Petit, who proposes a culinary journey shaped as much by the immaculate atmosphere as it is by his incredible food. One of the 170 “Grandes Tables du Monde,” the restaurant’s dishes pay expert homage to the land (the property even has its own herb garden with over 200 varieties) and can be paired with over 1,500 wine references. Foodies, this is your pick!

13 rue Jean Mermoz, 74940 Annecy-le-Vieux


Hotel Imperial Palace

A versatile and majestic Belle Époque hotel makes for a dream vacation on the rippling shores of Lac d’Annecy. An ideal base for discovering the town and its surrounding area, it is a convenient half hour’s drive from the Geneva airport, so you’ll waste no time discovering the establishment’s myriad offerings, which include tailor-made services, a wellness area & spa, three restaurants, a bar, and a decked-out casino. The 4-star hotel features 90 rooms and 14 suites, all with views of the lake’s translucent waters, the snow-covered mountains, or the blooming flower beds of the adjoining “Charles Bosson’’ park. In summer, guests also enjoy an exclusive entrance to Annecy Beach.

Allée de l’Impérial, 74000 Annecy


Black Bass Hotel

“Feet in the water, head in the mountains.” So goes the saying at Black Bass Hotel, one of 9 luxury Maisons across France that make up the prestigious Lavorel Hotels Collection. This 5-star lakeside universe — a grandiose renovated house from the 1970s, featuring 13 plush rooms and 12 suites (all named after the children and grandchildren of founder Jean-Claude Lavorel) — you will have no shortage of things to do; the property features a swim and deck area, a spa, arestaurant & bar and an incredible range of activities: tours of the old town, waterskiing, skiing, boating, biking, paragliding, canyoning and more. A luxury adventure awaits! Opens for the season end of March. 

921 Route d’Albertville, 74320 Sévrier

stay at

La Maison Bleu

A pretty, blue 19th-century treasure hidden between water and mountains. At the lovely La Maison Bleue, visitors will be greeted with a warm welcome, 5-star service and outstanding cuisine in an unbelievable setting on the lake (that includes a private jetty). Rooms are elegant, comfortable, and decorated in a delicate mix of beautiful traditional materials and sumptuous, breezy fabrics. Headed by renowned culinary references Elodie and Yoann Conte, it is not only one of the most beautiful places to stay in the region but one of the most delicious, presenting the two Michelin-starred La Table and La ROC restaurants. 

13 Vieille Route des Pensières, 74290 Veyrier-du-lac


Auberge du Père Bise

A historical chalet turned 5-star hotel, a stay at the Auberge du Père Bise is nothing short of ethereal. Situated on the shimmering lake and surrounded by mountains, its setting alone is an invitation to hike, explore and dive (quite literally) into a world that feels both connected and timeless. Afterward, succumb to serenity at the spa, recharge in one of the luminous rooms or suites, and refuel in your choice of three restaurants: the two Michelin-starred Jean Sulpice; the 1903, with its festive atmosphere and mix of contemporary and traditional cuisine; or the Marius, a bar & terrace set seamlessly into the wondrous natural backdrop. The ideal place to refresh the spirit and reawaken the senses.

303 Route du Port, 74290 Talloires



Hébé Hotel

A charming and sophisticated stay in the city center, the three-starred HÉBÉ Hotel is the perfect place for exploring all of Annecy’s offerings. As near to the Vieille Ville and its canals as it is to the trendy restaurants and shops, the lake, and many of the town’s star attractions, this delightful, family-oriented hotel has everything you need to make you feel at home, including a terrace and an all-day bar that serves breakfast in the morning, snacks throughout the day and aperitifs in the evening.

5 Avenue d’Alery, 74000 Annecy

And it isn’t just the winter wonderland you might be imagining. With a plethora of ski and lake beach resorts, cultural attractions, and different seasonal activities, Annecy is a place whose beauty and offerings are appreciated come sun, rain, sleet, or snow. Whether visiting with friends or family, in a group or alone, there is always something to do, see and enjoy.

Where to Eat in Annecy

eat at

Le Chalet

A mix of traditional and eclectic dishes and authentic décor makes for an interesting meal in an intimate setting. With an interior designed like a real wooden chalet, complete with sheepskins and roaring fireplaces, this Alpine restaurant is the real deal. The robust menu evolves with the seasons, featuring both classic Savoyard specialties and reimagined regional favorites. If you visit in the warmer months, plan to sit on the canal-facing patio for a perfect view of the Palais de I’Île.

1 Quai de l’Evêché, 74000 Annecy


eat at

Le Bilboquet

At Le Bilboquet, the foundations of Savoy cuisine are as strong as the beautifully fortified stone walls. This gourmet restaurant in the heart of Annecy’s Old Town is run by celebrated chef Eric Besson, who has been plating stellar meals with his team there for two decades. Come for the extensive wine list and delicious food (expect more than one set menu option); stay for the affordable prices, exceptional service, and cozy atmosphere. The ultimate place for visitors looking to have a pleasant local experience.

14 Faubourg Sainte-Claire, 74000 Annecy

eat at

Le Balcon du Lac

The one with the view. The terrace is where you want to be at Edelweiss 74, the restaurant of L’Edelweiss Hotel in Talloires-Montmin, where guests are treated to traditional Savoyard cuisine and a stunning panoramic view of Lake Annecy and the mountains. The eatery’s spacious interior is especially great for groups, be it a casual or celebratory affair, and all dishes are crafted with local seasonal products. Come hungry and expect hearty Alpine classics: reblochonnade, tartiflette, raclette, fondue, and more.

5160 F Col de la Forclaz, 74210 Talloires-Montmin

Complement Your Adventure in annecy with our Curated Itineraries

Unlock a deeper exploration of Annecy with our expertly curated itineraries, designed to complement our comprehensive travel guides seamlessly.


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