For most Americans, a trip to France involves Paris, of course. Perhaps they also venture down to Provence or the Southern coastal towns such as Nice. But there’s so much more to France.
Earlier this year, I had the absolute pleasure to visit the small French city of Annecy. Prior to recently, I hadn’t ever even heard of Annecy, but we had a friend (from Europe) who had lived here in California for a while and had returned to Europe when he got a job in Annecy. We thought it would be nice to work a few days’ visit with him and his family into our trip to France, and so we found ourselves venturing to a town I really didn’t know much about.
When I told other Americans I was visiting Annecy, they didn’t know much about it either, but when I told my French tutor about my upcoming Annecy excursion, he gushed with how much he loves it there and how beautiful it is (my French tutor is originally from Paris).
I looked up a few things before we left, but I mostly decided to let our friends who are now locals be our guides during our stay, and they didn’t disappoint with the things they took us to see and do. I wanted to do a write-up on some of the amazing, beautiful things one can see and do in Annecy so I can hopefully inspire you to visit as well!
This absolutely breathtaking slot canyon is only about 10 kilometers from Annecy, and is also one of the easiest slot canyons to explore, due to a footbridge built throughout the canyon, so this natural wonder is easy to explore no matter your age or fitness level (we had a child in our group, and I saw a lady wearing stilettos walking the footbridge, though we did question why she would choose to wear those shoes in a place such as this). To get there, the easiest way would be to have a car, but if you’re not planning on renting one, you can get there by public transportation (with a 2 kilometer walk as well). Information is on their site. This beauty is definitely not to be missed!
Lake Annecy is one of the most beautiful lakes I’ve ever seen. It has amazingly crystal clear waters (apparently some of the cleanest and clearest in all of Europe) and a dramatic backdrop of the Alps towering in the background. Go in the springtime, and you’ll still see snow caps on the mountains in the distance while you lounge in the sun. It was magical.
This absolutely enchanting medieval beauty is known as “the Venice of the Alps”. It’s an absolutely beautiful, enchanting place to stroll around and has such a chill, laid-back vibe that you’ll find yourself delighted in just wandering the streets. Make sure to stop frequently for a drink or a snack at an outdoor cafe or at one of the city’s many gelato stands for a sweet treat.
This magnificent castle is only a short drive away from Annecy and really isn’t to be missed. the grounds and the surrounding areas of this beautiful chateau are also spectacular, and there’s even a little hiking trail into the woods adjacent to the castle grounds that is worth doing. In order to see the inside of the castle, you need to do a guided tour. Admission is 9,50 € per adult (discounts for children). The tour takes about an hour. I did the French guided tour, but they also do tours in English…just inquire with them for times.
A good place to go after you visit the chateau is La Ferme De La Charbonniere, a small, family-owned farm that is very close to the castle. Stop by to pick up some of their amazing, fresh cheeses made right on site, and if you’re there at the right time, I highly, HIGHLY recommend you stay for dinner in their restaurant. If your French isn’t very good, make sure to download the French language onto your Google translate app before you go because our server didn’t really speak much English. This place was absolutely packed with locals, and it was the BEST dinner I’ve had in a long time. I opted for the raclette dinner, which is amazing raclette cheese that you grill on a little burner and then pour out over potatoes. Eat it alongside fresh charcuterie, cornichons, baguette (I skipped the baguette because gluten), salad, and of course wine. The dinner also came with a sampling of their other cheeses as well as fresh ice cream for dessert. What a night! I still salivate when I think about that dinner.
Bonus: you might get to meet this furry beast while you’re there:
Gluten Free Eats
Since this is a subject constantly on my mind (celiacs get hungry, too), I of course wanted to share a little bit on the things I ate here. I included this in my post about eating gluten free in France in general, but for your ease…here’s the Annecy info again:
The first place you absolutely must visit while in Annecy is Liber’Tart. It’s an entirely gluten free dedicated bakery. I stocked up on some bread and some very yummy treats (including another tarte au citron because I love them so much) here and it didn’t disappoint! Another place we tried and loved is Aux Crêperies Bretonnes La Bolée, in the old town area. The gluten free options were clearly marked on the menu and I was able to enjoy a delicious, gluten free buckwheat crepe full of cheese and tomatoes…yum!
We packed food with us a lot in Annecy as well as we had our friend’s kitchen, which was nice. The grocery stores always had some sans gluten bread available, so I was able to make plenty of sandwiches for picnics and have bread with my breakfast as well.
Annecy is an outdoor-lovers paradise. There are bike trails around the lake and people out jogging, kayaking, and generally enjoying the beautiful great outdoors. The town itself has a much more relaxed, laid-back vibe than, say, Paris, and there are events for sports enthusiasts all year round. Activities like marathons, triathlons, hiking, kayaking, paragliding, rock climbing, and more are popular here, and in the winter, skiing in the Alps is very close by. I found myself to be enchanted with this beautiful, healthy, gorgeous little city and can’t wait until the day when I come back for another visit. If you’re going to be visiting France, Switzerland, or Northern Italy, you really should see if you can get to Annecy, even if it’s just for a few days. This beautiful little city will not disappoint.
Have you been to Annecy? Have any tips I didn’t share that you think are worth sharing? I would love to hear them!