Ten Things to Do in Annecy On a Weekend Break

Annecy City Guide: What to Do On A Weekend Break in the “Venice of the French Alps”

 

Charming, gourmet, trendy and popular among tourists (2.5 million a year), Annecy, the so-called “Venice of the French Alps,” is aptly named: a dream destination for city-breakers just 150 km from Lyon. Here’s ten tips to make the best of your time in Annecy.

 

By Kevin Bonnaud

 

What to see and visit in Annecy

 

Annecy’s Top Landmarks

Annecy’s iconic medieval castle-museum overhanging the old town is a good way to start a walking tour to learn more about the city’s artistic and natural heritage.

View of the Annecy's castle

The Château d’Annecy is a restored castle from the 15th century which dominates the city. (c) Royer

Visitors can then make a detour towards the Animated Film Museum (free) before going down to the Palais de l’Ile former prison which forms a tiny island right in the middle of the Thiou river.

Travelers from Lyon feel a little bit home with paved streets and squares, countless churches and traboule-like passageways.

The Morens bridge in Annecy

Morens bridge in the old district of Annecy. (c) G. Charvin

The Morens bridge provides views of the famous canal and its flower-lined quay. The canal is bordered by colored houses leading to Lake Annecy and its waterfront promenade and parks.

 

A Boat Tour on Annecy Lake

There is nothing like a boat tour to admire the beautiful landscapes around Annecy, from the clear waters of the 27 km² natural lake to the Aravis and Bauges mountain massifs.

Lake of Annecy

Discover the Lake of Annecy by boat ©Philippe Royer

The Annecy Lake Boat Company proposes a series of cruises with (or without) short stops allowing passengers to discover, for instance, Talloires’ beautiful bay.

If you’re looking for a more authentic experience, you can try out a 10-seat
old-fashioned wooden boat. The small but chic vessels depart from the Vassé canal next to the Lover’s Bridge (Pont des Amours).

 

Art By Friends, Annecy’s Urban Art Gallery

Art By Friends (14, Avenue du Rhône) is one of the unconventional and vibrant cultural places street art enthusiasts look for when they visit or move to a new city.

Art by Friends gallery in Annecy

Art by Friends cultural center in Annecy

It’s an exhibition center where local, national and international artists live, work and share their passion with the public through live and sometimes improvised performances: wall painting, drawing, screen and stencil printing, pyrography, and ceramics.

There are regular exhibits, previews and private viewings, workshops, and concerts.
Visitors can buy some of the works in the gallery’s gift shop or have a drink at the bar.

 

 

Annecy’s Food and Drink

 

Coffee Break & Tea Time

Try the strong and robust coffees from Brumes’ café (2, Passage des Bains) made by experienced baristas who use a round blend with hints of cacao and different brewing processes for sensitive palates (filter, aeropress).

Inside Brume's Café in Annecy

Enjoy a good coffee at Brume’s Café in Annecy (c) Local Birds

This 2-year-old coffee shop with its aesthetic Scandinavian-like décor is a treasure nestled in a hidden passageway, and a definite Annecy must-see.

If you consider yourself more of a tea person, try the Ataya tea bar (19, Rue Someiller) for organic teas and infusions in a relaxing atmosphere.

 

Happy Hour with great wines and local beers

La Cave (8, Rue du Pâquier) has just been named France’s best wine bar by Terre de Vins magazine for its wide-ranging and bold wine list, promoting well-known estate vineyards as well as young and local wine growers.

Biodynamic wines are not a trend here, but a conscious choice. Food accompaniments are gourmet, local and seasonal with fresh alpine fishes like arctic char, cauliflower and other veggie dishes rarely seen in wine bars. The venue is cozy with its outdoor terrace and red ochre walls.

For local craft beer instead, be sure to stop by the Ouistiti à Roulettes bar (31 rue sommeiller).

 

Enjoy French Alps specialties in a local Upper (Floor) restaurant

The Annecy old town is full of local and popular restaurants where foodies can taste French Alps specialties mostly made of cheese, cold cuts or potatoes.

L'Etage restaurant in Annecy

Local dishes at L’Etage restaurant in Annecy

L’Etage (13, Rue du Pâquier) is a traditional restaurant serving local dishes such as cheese fondues with mushrooms ceps or truffles (menus : 20 / 37 Euros.): a food feast in a 17th century wealthy apartment with beautiful woodwork and exposed stone walls.

But the restaurant access isn’t so traditional. To reach the food, customers enter the bar and climb to stone stairs of a traboule before entering the dining room. Original and a good bet for a good meal.

 

Blind Cheese Tastings

Gourmet visitors can smell and taste Reblochon, Beaufort, Tome and other Savoy cheeses from Pierre Gay, a cheesemaker awarded with the title of Meilleur Ouvrier de France in 2011 (an artisanal distinction for the French worker of the year).

The blind tasting includes cold cuts, pastries and local wines.

Alain Michel cheese refiner in Annecy

Alain Michel, cheese refiner from La Crémerie du Lac.

Cheese lovers also have the chance to visit a cheese cellar in a secret location around the castle guided by Alain Michel, cheese refiner from La Crémerie du Lac.

These unforgettable experiences are put together by The Local Bird, a group of professional and passionate insiders proposing food tours, photo treasure hunts and free-diving courses.

 

Annecy souvenirs

 

Bring local treats home

The temptation is high to fill your bag with local food souvenirs. Go to Au Fidèle Berger bakery to buy Annecy’s famous chocolate bells or Annecy Reeds (Roseaux d’Annecy) filled with local liquors.

Annecy's chocolate bells

Famous chocolate bells from Annecy

Many French Alps specialties can be found at La Fermette grocery store on the Morens’ bridge.
If you want some fresh and original ideas for your next “French apero”, make a quick stop at La Marmotte qui sirotte, a brand-new apero shop.

 

Get Your Opinel’s pocket Knife in the Brand’s First Shop

The legendary small knife maker has recently opened its first own shop in Annecy (22 Rue Filaterie).

Opinel knife shop in Annecy

Opinel shop in Annecy (c) Semaphore

Visitors can get the famous, multi-function Opinel pocket knife, considered one the world best designed objects because of its robustness, ease-of-use, and swivel locking ferrule.

The Chambery-based company sells 5 million knives every year in 70 countries: a four-generation success story started in 1890.

 

Decorative Items and Lifestyle Shopping

Le Boutik Hotel (2 rue des Marquisats) is a charming hotel with great views of the lake.

Boutik Hotel in Annecy

Le Boutik Hotel in Annecy (c) Dugied

It’s also a store where guests can buy (almost) anything they see on display in the rooms and public areas from decorative objects to bedding: a sort of showroom where customers test and visualize before buying. The shop is also open to clients not staying at the hotel.

If you are interested in decorative accessories, jewels and other trendy lifestyle items, you should also go to Blossom, (4 Passage Gruffaz) another concept store which is also a tattoo parlor.

 

How to get to Annecy from Lyon

By car – 1h30 – A43 freeway to Chambery, then A41 freeway to Geneva.
By train – 2 hours from Part Dieu station.

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