Things to Do & Must-See Attractions in Annecy
Surrounded by the dramatic heights of Massif des Bauges Natural Park, Lake Annecy appeals to leisure travelers and watersport enthusiasts with its clear, turquoise waters,. On its shores, the lush Jardins de l’Europe and Annecy's historic Old Town add to the postcard-worthy scenery.
Soaring dramatically over Annecy’s intact Old Town and set atop a rocky promontory, the Annecy Castle (Chateau d'Annecy) is a fine display of Savoyard defensive architecture as it was the princely residence of the Counts of Geneva between the 13th and 17th centuries; it was later on abandoned and served a military barracks until the end of World War II. Imagine yourself as a brave 14th century knight and try to identify the primitive keep, the gates, and the cellar rooms. Like many other fortresses elsewhere in Europe, the castle was considerably extended and given several upgrades throughout the centuries, both in terms of style and defensive purposes. The furniture, artworks, and accessories nowadays found inside the otherwise bare yet fascinating exhibition area are testament to these changes, and perfectly complemented by sections on contemporary Savoyard art and Lake Annecy’s eventful history.
Most visitors like to enjoy an excursion to Annecy as a half-day tour from close by Geneva, where they can dwelve in the city’s rich history and wander its colorful canal-side streets. Another option would be to hop on a full day tour of both Geneva and Annecy, which includes a scenic cruise on the turquoise waters of Lake Geneva.
Welcoming visitors to Annecy’s Old Town, the 12th-century Island Palace (Palais de l’Île) sits right in the middle of Canal du Thiou on a prow-shaped islet between colorful canal-side streets. Over the years, the landmark building has served as a courthouse, mint, prison, military barrack, and ducal residence.
The Semnoz is one of the most famous mountains of the Bauges range in Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in eastern France; it reaches 1,699 meters high. The most popular place on Semnoz is a barren area called Crêt-du- Chatillon –a rarity on what is an otherwise heavily forested summit– which offers sprawling views of not just the permanently snow-capped mountain range but also the picturesque city of Annecy and its eponymous turquoise lake below. Rumor has it that its name comes from the ancient roman word for salmon, due to the peak’s fish-like shape. The summit is open year-round; it’s a very popular hiking destination in the warmer months (summer bobsleigh, via ferrata, mountain biking, and karting are also available); on the other hand, it’s morphs into a full-on Alpine skiing center come wintertime with four different stations catering to a diverse clientele, from thrilling downhill slopes to peaceful cross-country skiing trails – all of this, just 20 minutes from beautiful Annecy.
It is possible to book an exhilarating downhill 4-hour mountain bike tour of Semnoz fromAnnecy, which is led by a professional and knowledgeable guide who will not hesitate topoint out noteworthy landmarks or take visitors to their secret viewpoints.
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