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With its sensational scenery—including the azure waters of Lake Annecy; surrounding snowcapped mountain peaks; and the half-timbered buildings of its medieval, cobblestone Old Town (Vieille Ville)—Annecy may be one of France’s most underrated cities. Known as “the Venice of the Alps” for its many waterways, visiting the 12th-century Palais de l’Île (ringed by the waters of the Thiou River) and the Château d’Annecy are two of the top things to do in Annecy. However, it draws outdoorsy types all year round and becomes particularly festive in the lead-up to Christmas.
Summer is when the lakeside city of Annecy comes alive and is blessed with ample sunshine and temperatures that hit highs around 80°F (27°C). The Fête du Lac, or Lake Festival, at the start of August adds to the energy and as do the ample opportunities to cycle around (or sail on) Lake Annecy and hike and climb the surrounding foothills. The charming Christmas markets and nearby Alpine skiing options mean that winter is also a good time to visit.
Nantes is accessible by mainline trains from Paris via the Nantes Station (Gare de Nantes), and the Nantes Atlantique Airport connects the city to domestic and international destinations. Nantes itself operates a tram system, multiple bus routes, and an airport shuttle. Otherwise, Nantes is eminently walkable (its medieval Bouffay district is best explored on foot), and is also bike-friendly.
Annecy is a popular destination for outdoorsy and athletic types: Its lakeside path is frequented by runners while swimmers take to its waters (and those training for the Triathlon International du Lac d’Annecy do both). To make the most of the region’s splendid scenery, go for a hike in the foothills outside of town: The Mont Veyrier trail is accessed from the center of town and offers a scenic way to break a sweat.
Lake Annecy is Annecy’s biggest claim to fame—indeed, the city and the lake are often thrown together as one. The lake, which is almost 100 square miles (260 kilometers), is the third largest in France. And it’s not just about size, the lake is also thought to be Europe’s clearest....More
The best pastime in Annecy, which feels perpetually on holiday, is to get outside. In summer, everyone is on or in the water, and skiers and snowboarders flock in winter. The city has ancient castles and prisons, warren-like cobbled streets, canals, and architecture that varies from medieval to art deco....More
Annecy is absolutely worth visiting—as evidenced by the number of young Parisians who are moving here. And if the clean, clear waters of Lake Annecy and surrounding mountain peaks aren’t enough to entice you, go for the gastronomic scene. The city has seven Michelin-starred restaurants....More
One or two days is enough for Annecy itself, which is relatively compact; but to enjoy the lake and mountains, spend more time. To relax, stay by the lake shore, but if you prefer alpine sports, look for accommodation up in the hills and count on at least a week....More
No, one day isn’t enough time, but use it to explore the city center. Wander the canals, head to padlock-lined Lover’s Bridge, and visit the medieval castle for views. Don’t miss the 12th-century prison on the canal’s natural rocky island—it incarcerated people as recently as World War II....More
Annecy has plenty of winter to-dos, especially for snow sports enthusiasts. Annecy’s closest ski station, Le Semnoz, is a 25-minute drive from town, with green and blue beginner runs. Chilly temperatures don’t stop Annecians from the water. Each January, hundreds cross the lake in a coldwater stand-up paddleboard race....More
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