Annecy – the ‘Venice of the Alps‘, is one of France’s most charming towns found in a picture-perfect setting. The charming old town with its Piedmontese-styled houses lies on the shores of Lake Annecy which is surrounded by the Alps. Below is our selection of 10 things to see in the old town…
Annecy Castle (Château d’Annecy)
The mighty fortress overlooks the roofs of the old town of Annecy. It belonged to a junior branch of the House of Savoie, the lords of Geneva. Built from the 12th to the 16th centuries, it now houses the museum of regional art.
Perrière Bridge (Pont Perrière)
Arguably Annecy’s most famous and photographed site. The bridge spans over one of the Thiou’s waterways which are bordered by colourful old façades with their characteristic Piedmontese touch.
Palais de l’île
This castle is found on a small island at the heart of the old town. Built in the 12th century, the Palais de l’Île was used alternately a courthouse, a mint, and finally a jail. It houses the centre for urban and local patrimony which shows Annecy at different periods.
The charming little pedestrianised street is bordered with old arcaded houses. It serves as the old town’s high street. It is ended by a fortified gate: the Sainte-Claire gate.
The square is surrounded by fine Piedmontese-style houses, including the former town-hall from the 18th century and the Notre-Dame-de-Liesse church. In its centre stands an old fountain.
Saint-François de Sales Church
Between the old town and the gardens bordering the lake, the church devoted to the former bishop of Geneva displays a Baroque façade from the 17th century.
Next to the church of Saint-François de Sales is the 15th century sanctuary of Saint-Maurice built in Gothic style. The architecture of its bell tower is typical of Savoie and has oddly been placed next to the chevet of the church.
European Gardens (Jardins de l’Europe)
The gardens were laid out just after the annexation of Savoie to France in 1863. The park lies on the shores of the deep blue lake and provides beautiful views over the lake and its surrounding mountains – and much closer – to the little Île des Cygnes (Swans’ island) and the mighty fortress of Annecy Castle. It is from the gardens that is found the embarkation point for the lake cruisers.
Lovers’ Bridge (Pont des Amours)
This is obviously the most romantic spot in Annecy: the footbridge is placed where the peaceful Vassé Canal and its small wooden boats join Lake Annecy. The bridge is a fine example of the iron architecture of the Belle Époque.
Imperial Park (Parc de l’Impérial)
Overlooking the lake and to the direction of Annecy-le-Vieux, the Imperial Park features a shady park, the lake’s main beach, and a former luxury hotel built at the Belle Époque which today houses a conference centre and the casino.
Visit the Annecy Tourist Office website here.