Annecy is a historic, picturesque city in the Haute-Savoie department of the Auvergne-Rhone-Alps region of France. It lies just 559,5 kilometers south-east of Paris, on the northern tip of the famous Lac D'Annecy (Lake Annecy). Thus being a mere 35 kilometers south of Geneva. Exhibiting beautiful old cobble stone streets and unique pastel coloured buildings it is no wonder why the city is most famously known as the Vielle Ville (old city). It was only just recently, in the late 19th century, that the city became a world famous tourist destination due to its renovated castle, beautiful lake, multiple winter resorts and fine arts museum that opened in 1956. The city is also well-known for the river Thiou that forms canals through the town parallel to the walkways. The canals, in addition to the rustic cobble stone streets, colourful buildings and wonderful floral displays make Annecy one of the most photographed cities in Europe, as it provides a real 'post-card' image to its inhabitants and visitors. Most recently( in 2015) Annecy was awarded the Fleur d'or (Golden Flower) by the Conseil National des Villes et Villages Fleuris. This is the most distinguished award a French municipality can receive. Its an indication of how green the city is with regards to preserving its natural flora.
Things to do & Places to see in Annecy, France
1. Le Château d'Annecy
Le Château d'Annecy or the castle of Annecy is one of the oldest attractions in the city. Domineering over the old French city, the chateau was originally built to house the many counts of Geneva around the 12th century and did so for almost five centuries. However it was later abandoned as a residence and used as a barracks between the 17th century and 1940. In 1953 it was bought by the town and was turned into a museum. There is part of the castle that exhibits furniture from through the centuries, paintings and sculptures dating back as far as from the 15th century. There is also an observatory found in the tower and Logis Perriere that holds an entire exhibition dedicated to the Lac D'Annecy. It informs the visitor all about the lake including information on its first inhabitants, aquariums that display indigenous fish, a detailed model of the lake and the mountains that surround it, information on the indigenous birds as well as the evolution of boats on the lake. The castle itself features a magnificent view of the city from its terraces.
2. Festival International du Film d'Animation d'Annecy (Annecy International Animated Film Festival)
Whilst Annecy is most famously known for its old Chateau that overlooks the city, the Festival International du film d'Animation d'Annecy steals the title of the most contemporary attraction. The AIAFF is a competition between animated films that are created in many different, interesting medias. Such as cut-out papers, animated drawings and modeling clay. The competition was created in 1960 and originally took place every two years, in the beginning of June, in Annecy. However since 1998, the festival has become an annual occurrence. Overall it consists of different categories ranging between; Films made for the internet, Films produced for television and advertising, Feature films, Student films and Short films. The festival itself is usually set out in an open cinema with the surrounding mountains as a magnificent backdrop.
Conveniently set in the summer season of France, the festival is truly inspiring to its attendees. It is always filled with a diverse range of animations that can be extremely moving. As a tourist in France this attraction is definitely one that should not be missed. The festival is split up into venues around Annecy; Pathe, Bonlieu, Pierre Lamy, MJC Novel and La Turbine and thus you can buy tickets for that specific venue as it is all fragmented. The tickets are not extremely pricey ranging between 5,50 to 7 Euro per venue.
3. Pont des Amours
Pont des Amours is a bridge in Annecy that links the Jardins de l'Europe to Pacquier whilst crossing the river Thiou that runs into the city from the lake. It was originally built in 1845 using wooden materials but was later reconstructed using iron in 1907. Pont des Amours offers an enchanting view of the Lac d'Annecy and is known as the bridge of lovers. The bridge gets its name from the legend surrounding it that states that any couple who kiss whilst standing on the bridge will be together forever. It is definitely a must see whilst in Annecy as it provides a romantic view of the lake and its surroundings.
4. Palais de l'Île
The Palais de l'Île or Island palace is a destination in Annecy that requires an obligatory visit. Situated in a canal in the heart of Annecy, the palais de I'Île splits the river thiou into two. As one of the most photographed destinations in France, the Palais de l'Île was built in in the 12th century on a rocky island. It was originally used as a prison in 1325 but was used 30 years later as a coin mint. It returned to its original purpose of a prison though in the 16th century. Today it is used as a museum, demonstrating its own past with examples of the prison and mint on display to the public. The brilliant palace is often referred to as a ship, due to its shape it looks as though it is advancing through the water of the Thiou.
How do I get there
When traveling from Paris to Annecy there are a range of options as to how you get there. There is the option to fly from Paris (Charles de Gualle) to Lyon-Saint-Exupery airport. It lies just 84 kilometers away from Annecy and costs on average 150 Euro one way, taking just over an hour. There is also the option of hiring a car and driving yourself. This however takes quite long. Of course the most popular is the TGV train. The speed train that travels around 200 mph can cost you between 39-57 Euros for one way. In total taking around four hours. This method of traveling allows you to see the countryside of France in comfort without worry.