Nestled in the heart of the French Alps, Annecy is a stunning lakeside town that offers an idyllic retreat for British holidaymakers seeking a change of pace and scenery. With its picturesque old town, breathtaking lake and mountain views, and a plethora of activities to suit all tastes, Annecy is a top destination for a memorable getaway. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore how to get to Annecy from the UK, the best things to see and do, and the ideal times to visit this charming French paradise.
Getting to Annecy from the UK
The easiest and most convenient way for British holidaymakers to reach Annecy is by flying into Geneva International Airport in Switzerland. Several airlines, including British Airways, easyJet, and Swiss Air, offer direct flights from major UK airports such as London Heathrow, Gatwick, and Manchester. Once you arrive in Geneva, Annecy is just a 40-minute drive away.
For those who prefer a more leisurely journey, consider taking the train from the UK to Annecy. Start by catching the Eurostar from London St. Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord. From there, transfer to Paris Gare de Lyon and board a high-speed TGV train to Annecy. The entire journey takes approximately 7-8 hours, but it offers a great opportunity to enjoy the picturesque French countryside en route.
Exploring the Best of Annecy: Top Attractions and Activities
Stroll Through the Charming Old Town
One of the highlights of any visit to Annecy is exploring its enchanting old town, often referred to as the “Venice of the Alps”, due to the network of canals that meander through its cobbled streets. Admire the colourful buildings adorned with flower boxes, stop by the quaint shops, and indulge in delicious treats at the numerous cafes, bistros, and ice cream parlours.
Bask in the Beauty of Lake Annecy
Lac d’Annecy, Europe’s cleanest lake, is a stunning centrepiece of the town and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. British holidaymakers can enjoy a range of activities, from swimming and sailing to stand-up paddleboarding and scuba diving. Alternatively, simply relax on the grassy banks, taking in the majestic mountain views that surround the lake.
Discover the Rich History at Annecy Castle
Perched on a hill above the town, Chateau d’Annecy is a must-see historical site. Originally built as a residence for the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours, the castle now houses a museum showcasing local art, sculpture, and natural history. Don’t miss the stunning views of the lake and town from the castle’s walls.
Bike Around the Lake
Annecy boasts a network of bike paths that allow visitors to explore the town and surrounding area at their own pace. One of the most popular routes is the 35 km paved greenway that encircles the lake, passing through picturesque villages like Sevrier, Saint-Jorioz, Duingt, Lathuile, and Doussard.
Indulge in Local Cuisine
French cuisine is renowned for its delicious flavours, and Annecy is no exception. From traditional cheese dishes like raclette and fondue to delicate plates of fine lake fish, the town offers a diverse culinary experience to satisfy all palates. Don’t forget to sample local specialities such as Reblochon cheese and enjoy a glass of crisp Savoie wine.
Experience the Great Outdoors
With its prime location at the base of the French Alps, Annecy is a fantastic destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Embark on a hike through the surrounding mountains, marvel at the region’s waterfalls and gorges, or try more adventurous activities like paragliding, rock climbing, or canyoning.
Attend Local Festivals and Events
Annecy is home to several annual events that showcase the region’s rich culture and traditions. Some of the most popular include the Fête du Lac, a spectacular pyrotechnic show held in August; the Retour des Alpages, a celebration of Alpine heritage in October; and the Venetian Carnival, a colourful display of Venetian masks and costumes in late winter.
Relax on the Beaches
Lake Annecy’s shores are dotted with a variety of beaches, perfect for soaking up the sun and enjoying the refreshing waters. Some of the most popular include Plage d’Albigny, Plage des Marquisats, and Plage de la Brune.
Embark on a Lake Cruise
Take in the breathtaking panoramas of the lake and surrounding mountains aboard a scenic cruise. Options range from leisurely sightseeing tours to more luxurious dinner cruises, providing a unique perspective of the region’s natural beauty.
Visit Nearby Attractions
Annecy’s central location makes it an ideal base for exploring the wider region. Take a day trip to the medieval town of Yvoire on the shores of Lake Geneva, visit the famous Mont Blanc in Chamonix, or explore the charming city of Lyon.
Best Time to Visit Annecy for British Holiday Makers
Spring (March to May)
Spring is a delightful time to visit Annecy, with blooming wildflowers and milder temperatures. However, the weather can be unpredictable, with sporadic snowfall in April. This is a great time to experience Annecy without the summer crowds.
Summer (June to August)
Annecy’s high season sees warm temperatures and an influx of tourists. While the town is bustling and vibrant, it can be challenging to find accommodation unless booked well in advance. This is the perfect time to enjoy outdoor activities and water sports on the lake.
Autumn (September to November)
Autumn is arguably the best time to visit Annecy, as the summer crowds have dissipated and the weather remains pleasant. The Retour des Alpages festival in October is a particular highlight, offering a unique insight into the region’s Alpine heritage.
Annecy is a captivating destination that offers the perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and diverse activities to suit all tastes. Whether you’re seeking a relaxing lakeside retreat or an action-packed adventure, this charming French town is sure to delight British holidaymakers at any time of year. So why wait? Start planning your unforgettable getaway to Annecy today!