Perhaps one of the most common tidbits I heard from family and friends who had previously visited Switzerland and France before our arrival was, “oh you’re going to LOVE Lake Annecy.”
However, we arrived in subzero temperatures, so we had to wait a bit to enjoy it for ourselves! From Geneva, it also isn’t practically accessible by train or ferry, and without a car, it was a bit trickier to get there.
It’s only about a 40 minute drive from Geneva, so without a car, we decided to take the FlixBus, which departs just over the Mont Blanc bridge. If you plan in advance, you can get tickets for around $40 roundtrip for two. We had an easy drive and did not need our passports! Traveling between Switzerland and France in this region just feels like crossing state lines. I’ve tried to write that five different ways and it comes out more ostentatious in each iteration, hope you know I do hear myself and that I know it’s crazy.
Many, many places call themselves the “Venice of the North” (including our visit to fairytale Bruges, and our upcoming return visit to Amsterdam) but Annecy, with it’s crowded back streets that snaked throughout town and admittedly, thousands of tourists (including us!) sucking down gelatos in 95 degree heat….
has felt the most “truly Venice” to us. We are still in the midst of a multi-week epic heat wave here and you may know that Europe is not at all into air conditioning. We inherited one rolling AC unit that gets our bedroom to a tolerable temperature before we go to sleep, but other than that it’s been tough sledding. These gorgeous views made things much easier!
Upon arrival, we walked up the cobblestone streets to the castle, Chateau d’Annecy that was built in the late 12th through 16th centuries and once home to the Counts of Geneva. Today there are many exhibits within the restored walls – everything from archaeology to commercial fishing. I’m a museum girl but truthfully, it was not our cup of tea. But there were some really beautiful views of Lake Annecy and the nearby mountains from the top of the Chateau gardens.
The iconic photo op in Annecy is the bridge that overlooks the old prison, the Palais de L’Isle, currently also home to an modern art exhibit, hence the “origami.”
All along the waterways the streets are lined with restaurant after restaurant, and although it was way too hot to even consider this, we had heard rave reviews of the raclette and tartiflette (a local specialty made with potato, cheese, bacon and onion) at Le Freti. So, we gave in to the temptation! The service and the food were simply delicious and it was nice to get out of the sun for awhile.
We spent our afternoon enjoying the shade in the park and just sitting amongst the picnickers, the families, and the romantics. It was hot but lovely to revel in the views of the lake and the Alps – had it been cooler we would have joined the boaters on a cruise!
When we finally had to head home, our bus was over an hour late with zero communication. I guess I am just a train girl through and through!
We can’t wait to return to Annecy when it is less crowded and much cooler! I have also heard there is a really sensational nearby hike near Le Semnoz that I’d love to try.
We return to France this weekend- heading to Nice and Monaco (just an hour flight) for a refreshing weekend weekend by the water! But mostly for my husband to live out his James Bond dreams at the Monte Carlo.