Annecy: a picturesque city on an Alpine lake bustles in the summer sun

The Palais de l’Isle in the middle of the Thiou River dates to the 12th century.

I’ve known several people from Annecy, heard about it for years, but had never had the opportunity to visit. With Annecy just under an hour drive away from our house- and cat-sit in Thoiry, now was the perfect time.

The route took us over the Rhône River and through the Haute-Savoie region of France. We arrived on a warm, sunny June holiday (Lundi de Pentecôte) to find Annecy absolutely buzzing with people. Despite the hordes and lack of street parking, we found ample cheap parking in the château parking lot just a short walk up the hill from the city center. I was worried about the crowds at first, but the city absorbed them well and the atmosphere was festive rather than claustrophobic. For lunch, we surprisingly had no wait for an outdoor table in the shade at the café of our choice, Café Bichette. We enjoyed trying award-winning local beers – a blonde for me and a triple for David – from Brasseurs Savoyards.

Busy old town Annecy

Annecy is picture-perfect little city in an idyllic setting on Lac d’Annecy/ Lake Annecy, one of the five Alpine lakes. Only 40-45 min. down the A41 from Geneva, it’s well worth the drive. The old town dates back centuries with its iconic Palais de l’Isle in the middle of the Thiou River dating to the 12th century. (See lead photo and viewed from behind in the photo immediately above.) The Palais was a small castle near where the river and lake meet, then a prison and a courthouse, then a prison again during WWII. It houses a small history museum now and makes for a nice stop.

Boats abound on Lake Annecy on a sunny June day.

We explored the old town at leisure, enjoying the weather, walking along the lake and lakeside park, people- and boat- watching. Motor boats, tour boats and lots and lots of small pedal boats dotted the lake. At the end of our day, we wandered back up the hill to visit Château d’Annecy (Annecy Castle), the former home of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours before before heading back to the parking garage and our car. The château is large and houses both historical items and art depicting the region as well as a display relating to the five alpine lakes, their marine life and the local fishing heritage. Château d’Annecy also offers a view over the old town rooftops, lake and mountains.

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