Annecy, France is a small French city with a delightful old town center that is alluring and attractive for visitors, both French and foreign. Even if you only have two days, you will have time to try all the great things to do in Annecy, like taste the food France is known for, tour the adorable Renaissance town, and sample a few of the many things Annecy is known for, including canal-walks, award-winning cheese, and the stunning Lake Annecy.
The Best Bits
Where is Annecy, France
Annecy is located in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France on the northern tip of Lake Annecy in the French Alps. The lake is so beautiful that it inspired the great Paul Cezanne to paint his famous, Le Lac Bleu.
The town Annecy itself is heaven: a canal filled, Renaissance village with some of the best ice cream in France at the Glacier des Alpes. Just wait until you see it in person. It will inspire you too!
How to Get to Annecy
If you’re flying, I recommend flying into Geneva and either renting a car to drive yourself to Annecy, or taking a taxi.
Annecy is only 30 kilometers by car from the Geneva airport. It will take about 45 minutes to drive it, unless it’s a heavy traffic day.
If you’re planning on just staying in Annecy and not venturing out to other areas, you won’t need a car, so it’s more luxurious to take a taxi from Geneva Airport. The City Taxi Annecy goes directly from the airport to Annecy in 1 hour 35 minutes.
5 Best Things to Do in Annecy
Annecy tourism is busy summer and winter. If you arrive in the summer, you will witness both tourists and the French flocking to this adorable town to take part in all of Annecy’s activities – both indoor and out.
Hang Out Around the Lake
Lake Annecy is the star here. You could spend your entire time in Annecy enjoying the lake, participating in all the activities. Rent a paddleboard or a paddle boat. Go out sailing or wakeboarding.
You can take a public boat tour that lasts an hour to explore the opposite side of the lake and back. Or you can just sit by the water in the massive gardens and read that book you’ve had on the shelf for so long. It is hard to resist the urge to jump off the dock and go swimming.
Long Luxurious Lunch on Lake Annecy
Another great way to soak up the beauty of the lake is by indulging in a long lunch at Auberge di Pere Bise, sipping Rosé Champagne on the terrace overlooking Lake Annecy. Bliss, total bliss.
If you choose the lunch tasting menu, expect to spend a few hours on a roller-coaster ride of flavors, thanks to Chef Jean Sulpice, your captain for the afternoon. He acquired two Michelin stars at his eponymous restaurant in Val Thorens, before moving south to this sunny spot. Did I say he was the youngest chef in history to receive those stars at the age of 26? You will be in good hands as you dig into an eight-course meal.
To get to the restaurant, you will need to arrange for a boat ride from the village to the restaurant, a short hop across the lake. The restaurant is attached to the hotel, and the concierge there can help you arrange a boat ride.
Tour the Old Town
Annecy has one of the sweetest towns of France. It’s called the Venice of France and is filled with narrow passages and canals. Get lost in the labyrinth and find yourself back in front of the lake.
There are a few museums to be visited: the Palais de l’Ile, Chateau d’Annecy and its Museum.
You should give yourself ample time to stroll around, so you can go into all the little shops and eat all the wonderful food. Step into the bakeries and choose a pastry, try a few cheese samples, or linger for some of the best ice cream at the Glacier des Alpes you’ll find anywhere in France.
The Annecy farmers market is only open from Tuesday to Saturday. If you happen to be there on those days, you must wander through the stalls of fresh foods and wares. The real treat happens on Sunday when the Annecy Market is open and includes textiles and other local items. It is truly one of the best markets in Europe, not only because of the idyllic backdrop.
Eating in Annecy
Eating (and drinking) is an artform in Annecy, so it gets its own section. There are dozens of restaurants, bars and food stalls you can stop in for a complete meal or just to grab a snack. The real joy of Annecy is the cheese dishes, which you should absolutely seek out while you’re there. Make sure you visit Pierre Gay’s shop – he is an award-winner and has the best cheese cave in town.
In winter and summer, you can find Tartiflette, Raclette, and Fondue, all the Savoie specialties, on almost every menu in town. It is difficult to find a place that’s off the tourist path, which typically means low-quality and high prices, but it is possible to find a hidden gem. What’s the best way to do find great food? Ask your hotel or any local you come upon where they like to eat or check out my piece on the wines of Savoie Mont Blanc.
I suggest taking the Private Walking Tour of Annecy’s Historical Center which is two hours and you can see everything you wish. If you are a bit more energetic, there is a 2-Hour Segway Tour. If you are staying in Geneva and just want to come down for the day, there is also a Half-Day Trip from Geneva.
Annecy Weather & When to Visit Annecy
Annecy has fairly predictable weather, with four distinct seasons. The temperature is mild in the spring and fall, and can rise to 35 in the summer or -2 in the winter. Snow is typical in the winter months, as Annecy is located at the foot of the Alps.
The busiest time of year in Annecy is summer – July and August see large number of tourists. If you want to avoid the rush and experience the best climate in Annecy, April or May and September or October are the best months to visit.
Where to Stay in Annecy
Here are a few luxury hotels I can recommend in Annecy. They have that perfect combination of style, service and attention to detail that I demand. Check the prices on the links below:
- Auberge du Pere Bise – home to Jean Suplice’s restaurant and a divine Relais & Chateaux property in its own right!
- Le Cottage Bise – Also part of the complex of Jean Suplice’s restaurant but a little more casual, this “cottage” is as luxury as it gets
- Imperial Palace – The most famous hotel in the town of Annecy – follow in the footsteps of all the great celebs who stayed here!
Or book one you prefer on Booking.com.
Best Bits to leave you with
With so many things to do in Annecy, you won’t have any trouble filling two days or even a week experiencing all the fun things to do in Annecy! It’s a beautiful location and very much worthy of a short holiday.