Annecy, Rhone-Alpes: tourism & sightseeing

Photo of Annecy in Haute-Savoie

Visit Annecy (Rhone-Alpes, France)

PHOTO GALLERY MAP & PLACES TO VISIT

Annecy is one of the most popular towns in the Alps, and is an attractive setting with woods, mountains and the Lake d'Annecy close to hand.

The town is found in the Haute-Savoie region of eastern France, on the shores of Lake Annecy, 22 miles south of Geneva. Annecy is situated at the northern end of the lake of Annecy, and is 25 miles NE of Aix les Bains. It occupies a strategic location on routes between Italy, Switzerland and France.

I can't recommend enough a trip to Annecy and Lake Annecy. The lake with its mountain setting is gorgeous, it is surrounded by some pretty villages including Talloires, a real gem, and Annecy itself is a wonderful town - very attractive and as it sits on the edge of a lake you can combine the pleasures of the town with lots of water based activities.

Exploring Annecy

Annecy is a beautiful town and is home to a number of important places and monuments and has also been classified as a Town of Art and History in France:

- The Palais de l'Ile (see photograph above) also called the "old prison", was built in the 12th century. The Palais de l'Ile was a court house and a prison and inside you can see the former prison cells and visit an exhibitition on the architecure and heritage. It is the symbol of the town and is among the most photographed monuments in all of France.

old houses along the canal in Annecy

- The Château d'Annecy (Annecy Castle) was the home of the Counts of Geneva. In the 16th century the castle entrance was fortified with a parapet walkway. The oldest part of the castle is the Tour de la Reine which was built in the 13th century. From the 17th century to the 1940s it was a barracks and today it houses a museum with exhibitions of Art and History of the area.

- The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre built in the 16th century was the cathedral of François de Sales, and is home to a number of artworks and baroque pieces from the 19th century. Outside the cathedral, the 16th century Hotel Lambert was home to Francis de Sales (bishop of Geneva from 1601-1622).

- The bishop's palace, which adjoins the cathedral, was built in the 18th century. Walk over the bridge to the garden of the bishop's palace and along the Quai Madame de Warens to the Rue de la Republique. From the Pont de la Republique you have a lovley view over the Thiou.

The River Thiou is one of the shortest rivers in Europe. It is just 3.5km long most of which is in the canals running through Annecy making it such a beautiful city - the 'Venice of the Alps'.

- The Porte Sainte-Claire gate is one of the gateways into the town and next to it is the Gallo House which has an 18th century facade. From here you can take the Pass. Nemours which climbs steeply to the castle.

- The church of Saint-Maurice has a flamboyant gothic style of the 15th century, and houses some very interesting paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries.

- On the edge of town is the  Basilique de la Visitation built in the 20th century, home of the tomb of François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal - both buried in rich copper sarcophaguses, and offers a magnificent view of the town.

When you have explored Annecy take the Quai Napoleon III to the Jardins de l' Europe. These landscaped gardens  date back to 1863 and are a pleasant place to relax. From here cross the delightful Pont des Amours (Lovers' Bridge). This delicate-looking iron bridge was constructed in 1907. 

From here you can take the lovely walk along the lake edge to the Impérial Palace. This opened in 1913 and was renovated in the 1980s to make a luxury hotel and casino. There is also a public garden and a beach.

One of the nice things about the lake here is the constant activity. Along the lake edges are people jogging, walking, rollerblading or just sat on the grass on the edge of the lake. Wonderfull!

After visiting the city itself be sure to also find time to explore Lake Annecy and the pretty villages around its edges: see the Lake Annecy guide.

You can find more local travel ideas in the Haute-Savoie guide and the Rhone-Alpes guide.

See also:

Map of Annecy and places to visit

Visit near Annecy with France This Way reviews

... or see ALL recommended places to visit in Haute-Savoie

Tourist classifications

Annecy has received the following tourist classifications: listed town of Art and History ; village in bloom (ville fleurie) 4*

Address: Annecy, Haute-Savoie, Rhone-Alpes, 74000, France || GPS: latitude 45.899, longitude 6.1284

Plan your visit to Annecy, Rhone-Alpes

Sightseeing & tourist attractions to visit nearby

  • Mont Veyrier: site of natural beauty (4km)
  • Lac d'Annecy: site of natural beauty (6km)
  • Gorges du Fier: site of natural beauty (7km)
  • Roc de Chere: site of natural beauty (8km)
  • La Roche-sur-Foron: recommended detour (23km)
  • Massif des Bauges: regional natural parc (24km)
  • Col de la Colombière: site of natural beauty (29km)
  • Aix-les-Bains: ville fleurie 4* (29km)
  • Aquarium du Lac du Bourget: aquarium (29km)
  • Albertville: town of art and history (33km)

Market days in Annecy, France

Regular market(s) are held in Annecy each Tuesday all day & Thursday & Sunday & Saturday & Friday. (Markets are held in the morning unless stated.)

The French version of this page is at Annecy (Francais)