The eastern part of the Rhone Alpes contains some of the most dramatic scenery in France. This beautiful countryside in the Savoie and Haute Savoie departments includes mountains, lakes and verdant valleys.
This area contains a wealth of alpine towns, lake-side towns and villages and a number of spa towns as well as some really stunning scenery.
There is no doubt that a holiday at Lake Annecy offers something for everyone. Annecy itself is a beautiful town which straddles a couple of canals and rivers and sits on the edge of a lake. Its waterside location has earned it the name of ‘Venice of the Alps’. Its narrow streets winding in between the waterways are packed with beautiful and colorful buildings.
One of the highlights of Annecy is the Palais de l’Ile which is surrounded on all sides by the water of the River Thiou. The Palais de l’Ile is one of the most photographed buildings in France.
The lake itself is surrounded by mountains making it one of the most beautiful lakes in Europe. Its clear waters and perfect for swimming or boating. Above Lake Annecy you can often see the colorful wings of the para-gliders circling above and this is a very popular activity in this area with several well organized centers offering the chance to participate. Flights are in tandem with experienced para-gliders making it suitable even for complete beginners.
Dotted around the lake are a number of beautiful villages including Talloires which has a world-wide reputation for its fine dining. If you are looking for a gastronomic holiday this is the place to visit. As well as its stunning lake-side location it has two highly acclaimed restaurants and a number of others that are well worth a visit. A boat service can take you from village to village – a lovely way to explore the lake.
For a change from the lake-side activities take a day trip into the mountains and visit the fabulous and very chic ski resorts of Chamonix and Megeve. Both are traditional alpine towns which, whilst they have grown into popular ski-stations, have retained their traditional town centers and charming alpine buildings.
As well as some fabulous walking for summertime visitors there are a number of cable cars offering lifts up into the mountains including the famous Mont Blanc and from Chamonix you can take a trip to the ‘Sea of Ice’, a permanent glacier.
Another day trip from Lake Annecy is a trip to Lac Lehman, half of which is in France and half is in Switzerland. On the French side of the lake you can visit the lovely spa town of Evian- les-Bains, home to the famous Evian mineral water.
‘Taking the waters’ was very popular and fashionable in the early part of the 20th century and in Evian some wonderful buildings were built at this time including the fabulous ‘Palais Lumiere’. This, along with the stylish casino and the Villa Lumiere faces the lake making a lake-side stroll a must.
Also on the edge of Lac Leman is Yvoire, one of France’s most beautiful villages. With a lake-side setting, a chateau, a charming garden and wonderful alpine-style medieval houses, it is one of our favorites amongst the official “most beautiful villages”.
South of Lake Annecy a trip to Chambery is recommended. It has a wonderful historic center dating back to the 15th and 16th century. Its central square, Place Saint-Leger is a wonderful place to sit outside for a drink or a meal and watch the world go by.
When visiting make sure you see the unusual fountain of the elephants.
All in all the Savoy Alps are one of our favourite regions in France and we can strongly recommend a trip to this stunning area.