Lake Annecy is sourced from mountain streams, and by a deep spring at the Annecy end of the lake which alone provides 30% of the water in the lake. The resulting fresh clean water of Lake Annecy and surrounding scenery is home to activities all year round and attracts many visitors.
Tours of the lake and its villages are available from the Annecy end of the lake. Tours are available on large ferries with a meal included, or faster, smaller tours are also available on small wooden motor boats where the captain might lend his hat to another passenger for a quick steer at the helm. Both feel luxurious.
For something truly local, try the water taxi – a ferry that stops in three of the most popular villages (Talloires, Menthon St Bernard and Veyrier) and leaves from Annecy three to five times a day in summer.
Most of the public beaches around the lake have an entrance fee, but the beach on the Marquisats side of Annecy, just five minutes by foot from the old town, is free.
Visitors will all want to visit Annecy itself but be sure to allow time to explore some of the villages around the lake.
Veyrier du Lac is a small and expensive place to pass time. The beachfront is mostly residential apart from the port, but the area does provide some walks in the direction of the mountains. You can dine in a Michelin 3-star restaurant (La Maisons de Mark Veyrat) or one of the many others dotted through the village.
Menthon St Bernard boasts its very own castle, still privately owned by the Menthon family, and open in summer for tourists to visit and gasp at the glorious views of the lake and mountains. The village has a port, where swimming is free, or a beach which is only free in the evenings.
Paddle boats can be hired from the port, which also has a restaurant, pétanque alleys, lots of parking, and views of the picturesque hotel just along from the port. (The hotel itself allows guests or visitors to dine with lovely views of the lake as the sun sets in summer.)
Talloires is further along the lake away from Annecy. It has some great local shops, a charming port and amazing beachfront views. The port is contained in a small cove with some restaurants and hotels overlooking the water. The walk towards the North end of the port, towards the cliffs, can be romantic in the quieter months when less people are in town.
Villages on the west side of the lake miss a lot of the afternoon sun because of the nearby mountains. The villages are more residential, but still contain accommodation, restaurants and some activities. Unlike the east side of the lake these villages benefit from the dedicated cycle/walk/rollerblade track which continues towards Albertville.
Unsurprisingly, most people only brave the water in summertime, when the temperature of the lake can reach the mid- to high-twenties. (According to locals at least one person, now in her eighties, swims across the lake and back each day of the year, although student divers prefer the comfort of their dry suits in winter.)
Summertime on the lake includes all the usual activities such as water skiing, wakeboarding, sailing, swimming and diving. For safety reasons, kite surfing and wind surfing are only allowed within a certain distance from the shore, to avoid the areas where speed boats and large ferries regularly pass.
As Europe’s cleanest lake, Lake Annecy is a popular summer destination for families, couples and singles alike, with a wide variety of accommodation and villages to stay in.
Although the city of Annecy itself is the largest town, the villages dotted around the lake provide a much more private atmosphere, with those on the east side being generally more expensive and catching the afternoon sun, while those on the west side of the lake provide more campgrounds and less summertime events and activities.
Lake Annecy is also one of the few places in France where paragliders can practice chute failure, allowing them to drop into the water below as part of their training. This takes place a the south end of the lake, where many paragliding schools have landing fields and waiting boats for those who land in the water.
Address: Lac d'Annecy, Haute-Savoie, Rhone-Alpes, France || GPS: latitude 45.89813239, longitude 6.14067
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The French version of this page is at Lake Annecy (Francais)