Quai de l'Île, Annecy © French Moments
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Last Updated: 29 January 2022


Here is our selection of 10 Things to see in Annecy, the ‘Venice of the Alps‘. This is one of France’s most charming towns found in a picture-perfect setting. The charming old town of Annecy with its Piedmontese-styled houses lies on the shores of Lake Annecy which is surrounded by the Alps.

The Castle

Castle of Annecy, Place du Château © French Moments
Castle of Annecy, Place du Château © French Moments

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)

Pont de la Halle Annecy © French Moments
Pont Perrière from Pont de la Halle © French Moments

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

Annecy in December © French Moments
From Quai de l’Ile, Annecy in December © French Moments

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.


Rue Sainte-Claire

Porte du Sépulcre © French Moments
Porte du Sépulcre © French Moments

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.


Place Notre-Dame

Notre-Dame de Liesse Annecy © French Moments
Notre-Dame de Liesse, Annecy © French Moments

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

Church of Saint-François-de-Sales Annecy © French Moments
Church of Saint-François-de-Sales © French Moments

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.


Saint-Maurice Church

Church of Saint-Maurice, Annecy © French Moments
Church of Saint-Maurice, Annecy © French Moments

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.


Jardins de l’Europe

Jardins de l'Europe Annecy © French Moments
Jardins de l’Europe, Annecy © French Moments

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.


Pont des Amours

Canal du Vassé and Pont des Amours, Annecy © French Moments
Canal du Vassé and Pont des Amours, Annecy © French Moments

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.


Parc de l’Impérial

Parc de l'Impérial in Autumn © French Moments
Parc de l’Impérial in Autumn © French Moments

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.


There is a lot more to discover in Annecy and its surroundings. The lake offers some of the most enchanting vistas in the French AlpsDuingtTalloiresMenthon-Saint-Bernard and many more.

Visit the Annecy Tourist Office website here.

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About the author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. He has a background teaching French, Economics and Current Affairs, and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations, and a degree of Economics and Management. Pierre is the author of Discovery Courses and books about France.

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