Situated in southeastern France framed by the mountains of the Alps, a stunning lake and the Thiou River, Annecy, is the captivating capital of the Haute-Savoie region. Here, visitors will encounter medieval buildings along with warm, and inviting restaurants on the banks of the canal. There is plenty to see from the 12th century Palais de L'île to the perfectly manicured European Gardens and the bustling Old Town Market. Travelers in town in early June will not want to miss the International Animation Festival featuring open-air screenings, exhibitions, and other exciting events.
1.Palais de L'île
© Jérôme Rommé/stock.adobe.com
On an island in the middle of the Thiou canal sits Palais de L’île, a historical landmark dating back to the 12th century that served many purposes over the years from a private home to prison, courthouse and an asylum for the elderly. Today, the building is home to an architecture and heritage center that showcases the history of Annecy and features permanent exhibitions as well as temporary art shows. Walking through the structure is like walking back in time as visitors pass the old courtroom, dungeons, and former chapel, among other areas. The “Palace of the Island” continues to be a picturesque place for travelers to take photos.
3 Passage de l'Île, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-56-49-40-37
2.International Animation Film Festival
The magical world of animation comes to life every June in Annecy. Host to the International Animation Film Festival, the town welcomes travelers from near and far for this themed annual event featuring an awards competition, screenings, an industry conference as well as exhibitions and an open-air screening in Le Pâquier, with the lake and the mountains as a beautiful backdrop. Started in 1960, the festival attracts some of the most talented people in animation from companies such as Pixar, Dreamworks, Disney, as well as up and coming creators. Themes vary each year and one of the most recent ones focused on Japanese animation with special exhibitions, talks and other activities planned around it. Other highlights include meet and greets, film concerts, workshops, premieres of animation in the form of shorts films, features, advertising and so much more.
Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-10-09-00
3.Cruises on the Lake
One way to explore the beauty of Annecy is aboard a boat, and Compagnie des Bateaux Du Lac d’Annecy offers a variety of cruises on the lake. Located at the entrance of the old town, the cruise company has five different vessels to board including the only floating restaurant in town. Travelers who want to take in the stunning scenery should take one of the Discovery Tours, such as the Grand Lake Cruise, where guides share a glimpse into local history and passengers get to see castles, mountain vistas and more during the one- to two-hour experience in the heart of the Alps. For those who want a dining experience, a gourmet cruise aboard the MS Libellule is in order for a leisurely lunch or dinner and dancing.
2 Place aux Bois, Quartier Centre-cill Mairie, 7400, Annecy, Phone: +33-4-50-51-08-40
4.Eglise Saint-Francois de Sales
Dating back to the 17th century, the Eglise Saint-François de Sales is a Catholic church featuring a design similar to that of the Church of the Gesù in Rome. Featuring a simple white facade and Baroque interiors, the church remains a house of worship for the Italian community. Situated not too far away from the Palais de L’Ile across the Thiou River, the historic site previously served as the final resting place of François de Sales, a Bishop of Geneva who spent much time in Annecy and St. Jean de Chantal. Today, the church hosts regular mass service and events.
1 Place Saint-François de Sales, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-06-92
Boasting beautiful views of Lake Annecy, the European Gardens is a public park dating back to 1863. Nature lovers will enjoy exploring the collection of plants and flowers as well as just strolling amongst the giant sequoias. Whether it’s for a lovely picnic during the warmer months, marveling at the Alps mountains in the background, relaxing and people-watching from one of the benches, this is a serene place perfect for all of those leisurely pursuits. As for its location, the gardens are east of the old town on the northern tip of the Lake.
Quai Napoléon III, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-00-33
6.Pont des Amours
Linking the European Gardens to the Pâquier, Pont des Amours, or Lovers’ Bridge is an iron footbridge above the Thiou River that was installed in the early part of the 20th century. Legend has it that couples who kiss in the middle of the bridge are meant to be together forever. Plus, along with being a sweet place for couples to take selfies together, the bridge also offers fantastic views of the Lake and the Ile aux Cygnes as well as the picturesque town of Annecy. Evenings are a splendid time to visit as gorgeous lights illuminate the bridge.
74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-00-33
7.Chalet La Pricaz
© Chalet La Pricaz
Set on La Col de la Forclaz, Chalet La Pricaz has a rich history with early beginnings at the start of the 20th century. Offering panoramic views of Haute-Savoie, Lake Annecy below and on occasion adventurous hang-gliders and paragliders, this family-owned and operated restaurant, open daily for lunch and dinner, boasts quite the envious location. The menu is known for showcasing Savoyard specialties and the most famous dish here is the Peasant Cutlet, veal cooked with cheese, ham and served with oyster mushrooms in cream sauce. Customers also seem to like the raclettes, fondues and the French fries. All dishes are made to order and come in generous portions. During the warmer months, the terrace is open and is the ideal spot for enjoying ice cream while taking in the scenery.
La Forclaz, 74210 Montmin-Talloires, France, Phone +33-4-50-60-72-61
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8.St. Pierre Cathedral
Dating from the 16th century, the St. Pierre Cathedral in the old town of Annecy is a historical and religious site that previously served as a former Franciscan chapel but has operated as a cathedral since 1771. Outside, the Renaissance-style architecture is a departure from more Gothic interiors. Among the highlights that visitors will notice inside are the soaring ceilings, a massive organ from the 19th century and a striking, rose-hued stained-glass window. The cathedral’s altar and pulpit are devoted to St. Francis de Sales.
8 Rue Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Annecy, France
9.Museum Castle of Annecy
© Jenny Thompson/stock.adobe.com
A fine example of how architecture evolved from the 13th to 16th centuries, Annecy Castle is a historical monument and museum, as well as the former residence of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours. During the war, it also served as a barracks until 1947. Now owned by the City of Annecy, the Castle-Museum regularly hosts fascinating exhibitions and events touching on a range of topics from local heritage to medieval sculpture, contemporary art, among other subjects. Architectural enthusiasts will also enjoy exploring the site and seeing notable parts such as the Queen’s Tower, the oldest part of the castle dating back to the 12th century. Travelers who want to discover more about the castle and museum may do so on a guided tour offered by several companies in the area.
1 Place du Château, 7400 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-33-87-30
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10.Old Town Market
Exploring the Old Town Market is a quintessential experience for travelers to France. Although Annecy is home to several markets, this by far is the most popular one and takes place on Rue Saint Claire every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday between 7 a.m. and 1 p.m. A stroll to see what the local vendors are selling at their stalls is always interesting, and shoppers will find fresh, colorful produce, meats, cheese and delicious prepared foods during the week along with flowers on Friday, and textiles and other goods such as clothes, furniture and more on Sunday. For those who want to beat the crowds, it is best to arrive early.
74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-33-87-96
11.L’Auberge de Savoie
© L’Auberge de Savoie
Chef Laurent Jeannot surprises guests with bold, inventive gourmet cuisine beautifully presented at the elegant L’Auberge de Savoie. Warm, welcoming interiors provide and a seasonal terrace with views of the Palais de L’Isle and Annecy Castle, provide a pleasant setting to indulge in the Discovery Menu featuring a choice of amuse bouche, an entree, cheese plate, and dessert. While selections change, a recent menu featured Tartare de Thon Marine Thai, or Thai tuna tartare with wasabi cream and radish) as a starter, Presa de Cochon Cuit a Basse Temperature (Presa de Cochon served with savory shallots and smoked pepper cream), and a delightful Black Chocolate Mousse featuring white chocolate coulter and stracciatella ice cream.
1 Place Saint-François de Sales, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-03-05
© La Ciboulette
Haute cuisine courtesy of Chef Georges Paccard continues to entice guests from all over the world to La Ciboulette. Seasonal creations such as Stuffed Brittany Squid with Iberian chorizo, aubergine caviar and basil and Saddle of Occitan lamb rolled with thyme and paired with gnocchi define the menu and pair well with any one of the 300 references on the restaurant’s extensive wine list including the varietals of Burgundy and Bordeaux. As for the ambiance, well-appointed interiors with a mix of wood and stone wide windows overlooking a pretty courtyard, and the seasonal terrace provide a lovely setting for exquisite meals.
10 Rue Vaugelas - Cour du Pré Carré, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-74-57
© Le Belvédère
Sublime dishes with simple and seasonal flavors are what guests should expect when dining at Le Belvédère, the restaurant run by Vincent and his wife Delphine Lugrin at their intimate inn. Only a two-minute drive from Lake Annecy, the relaxed establishment invites guests on a culinary journey featuring an array of flavors and aromas along with surprising combinations, such as duck with vanilla, or salted mackerel and cauliflower foam. Just as divine as the dishes are the surrounding waterfront views.
Hotel Le Belvédère, 7 Chemin du Belvédère, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-04-90
14.L’Appart du Dix-Sept
A visit to L’Appart du Dix-Sept is similar to being invited to a cool dinner party at a friend’s chic flat. Steps away from Lake Annecy, this vibrant restaurant conceived by Christine Baquet-Porcel and Jean Claude Hatem is well-appointed with distinctive details such as an original color scheme, cozy fireplace, and grand piano. All of these elements add to the intimate ambiance for indulging in dishes inspired by the wonderful flavors from around the world. So whether it’s for lunch, dinner or a late-night drink at the bar, patrons will be presented with a marvelous menu of cutting-edge cuisine such as Hake Ceviche with Chimichurri spices and roasted corn and Fillet of Pink Trout in nori seaweed leaf served with turnip fettuccine and Salicornia sauce, as well as fun desserts that include Chocolate Springs Rolls. Creative cocktails such as the Basil Sensation are perfect with the cheese and charcuterie boards in the evening.
17 Rue du Pâquier, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-59-89
15.Clos des Sens
© Clos des Sens
Three-star Michelin Chef Laurent Petit oversees the menu magnifique at Clos des Sens, a restaurant housed in a luxury hotel of the same name, which translates to “closed senses.” Drawing from his passion for food at a young age, the culinary artist pays homage to “le terroir,” with dazzling dishes inspired by Lake and Earth with interesting shapes, textures, tastes, and aromas featuring fresh fish and local, seasonal produce. As for the scene, the contemporary dining with its fireplace and a crystal garden by artist Aurelie Abedie provides stylish surroundings for the ultimate in sumptuous dining.
13 Rue Jean Mermoz, 74940 Annecy-le-Vieux, France, Phone: +33-4-50-23-07-90
© Le Bilboquet
Set in the heart of the old town of Annecy, Le Bilboquet is tucked away on the first floor of a charming house. Stone walls and beamed ceilings create a cozy ambiance at this restaurant owned and run by Chef Eric Besson, known for his creativity and penchant for renewing his culinary offerings. At the moment, there are several menus, each interesting in its own way with dishes such as the Veal Pointe Aiguillette Rump featuring Prepared Rose Fricassee of Chanterelles and delightful sweets such as the Sarasin Shortbread Pie, Blonde Fruit Caramel, and Raspberries and Vanilla, which end the meal on a happy note. When it comes to wine, the list boasts selections from the major regions of France.
14 Fbg Sainte-Claire, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-45-21-68
Owned and operated by Chef Stephane and wife Magali Dattrino, L’Esquisse takes an artistic approach to its gourmet offerings. Translated to “Sketch,” the restaurant features playful menus with names such as The Noon Time, Greedy Expression, Inspiration and Sensation, all showcasing creative and modern selections that are vibrantly colorful, full of interesting tastes and presented beautifully on the plate from the Foie Gras with Yuzu confit to the meats selected from the Bocquet butcher shop. Although the friendly spot is small in size, it is certainly big on service and flavor.
21 Rue Royale, 74000, Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-33-80-59
© Le Chalet
Housed in a renovated wooden chalet, Le Chalet has a relaxed, rustic feel. Set on the canal banks in Old Town Annecy with direct views of the old prisons and the Chateau de la Visitation from its seasonal summer terrace, the restaurant boasts typical Savoyard fare in a romantic setting. The atmosphere is friendly and the menu is eclectic with an emphasis on seasonal ingredients with tasty selections such as Charolais Beef Tartare and Fondue aux Morilles envisioned by Chef Jean-Francois Rossignol. When it comes to dessert, world pastry champion Philippe Rigollot is in the kitchen creating tantalizing delights such as Vacherin Apricot Ice Cream and Rosemary, among others.
Quai de l'Évêché, 74000 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-51-82-55
© Le Clocher
Housed in a historic building that is more than 400-years-old, Le Clocher, or The Bell Tower, is a mix of old and new with striking stone walls, wooden beamed ceilings contrasting with bold, contemporary decor. Chef Bruno Wlodarczyk puts a modern spin on traditional dishes such as Le Brouchet, an interesting selection featuring crunchy pike mousseline with leeks, new onions and crustacean cream, or the straightforward Le Beouf, grilled and then smoked beef with rosemary and carrots. Along with the main dining room, there is a lively sidebar and terrace with a village feel, perfect for enjoying a meal and a glass of any one of the 400 references on the wine menu.
20 Place Gabriel Fauré, 74940 Annecy, France, Phone: +33-4-50-23-09-90
19 Best Things to Do in Annecy, France
- Palais de L'île, Photo: Jérôme Rommé/stock.adobe.com
- International Animation Film Festival, Photo: jasckal/stock.adobe.com
- Cruises on the Lake, Photo: marandstock18/stock.adobe.com
- Eglise Saint-Francois de Sales, Photo: Keitma/stock.adobe.com
- European Gardens, Photo: Nataliia/stock.adobe.com
- Pont des Amours, Photo: jeafish/stock.adobe.com
- Chalet La Pricaz, Photo: Chalet La Pricaz
- St. Pierre Cathedral, Photo: nevskyphoto/stock.adobe.com
- Museum Castle of Annecy, Photo: Jenny Thompson/stock.adobe.com
- Old Town Market, Photo: marandstock18/stock.adobe.com
- L’Auberge de Savoie, Photo: L’Auberge de Savoie
- La Ciboulette, Photo: La Ciboulette
- Le Belvedere, Photo: Le Belvédère
- L’Appart du Dix-Sept, Photo: Roxana/stock.adobe.com
- Clos des Sens, Photo: Clos des Sens
- Le Bilboquet, Photo: Le Bilboquet
- L’Esquisse, Photo: Rawpixel.com/stock.adobe.com
- Le Chalet, Photo: Le Chalet
- Le Clocher, Photo: Le Clocher
- Cover Photo: smallredgirl/stock.adobe.com