Having waited until the very last minute to leave home and get started on our fall trip, we were left with only a couple days to spare for cutesy little Annecy. Having heard many good things about it, we had almost made it there before the Camino del Norte (it lost out to Toulouse) and, once again, almost made it there after the hike (that time losing out to Nuremberg, of all places). But located just a couple hours from the start of the world-famous Tour du Mont Blanc in Les Houches and Walker’s Haute Route in Chamonix, our next stop, this turned out to be the perfect opportunity to explore its picturesque canals and atmospheric old town.
And, as luck would have it, Annecy turned out to be almost exactly what we both hoped and expected. Quaint little canals tightly lined with charming old buildings, Annecy is both a photographer’s dream and perfect for aimless strolling (the first something we aspire to, the second a definite travel specialty of ours). So, we wandered, and we ate, and we wandered, and we took some photos, and we wandered some more. It wouldn’t quite qualify as “training” per se, but I suppose it beat sitting around watching Netflix when it comes to preparing for a grueling 11-day trek. There were castles, and old churches, and kitschy flea markets, and a puzzling number of barber shops.
One notable oddity was the big Saturday Nordic biathlon festival taking place along the shore of the lake. Odd, in that biathlon is a winter sport involving archery and cross-country skiing. Notable, in that it apparently featured many of the world’s best biathletes. I still don’t completely understand it but, I have to say, everybody seemed pretty into it.
The lake itself was actually much larger than we expected, and full to bursting with families looking to take advantage of what could easily turn out to be one of the last hot weekends of the summer. There is a small beach, a long walking path, many pedalos (those goofy little boats you pedal as a team), and even motorboat rentals to basically anyone who asks, a practice that promises some fun chaos, and maybe even some unpredictable crashing. But in such a pretty setting, who would really mind?
Anyway, not much more to say except that Annecy is, as anticipated, a pretty little French town well worth a short, relaxing stop, and one of the most beautiful towns in eastern France. Wander, eat, repeat, as they say.
We took the FlixBus from Paris because it was cheapest (25E), which was comfortable but took close to 7 hours. There are also much faster (3 ½ to 4 hours) and more expensive (60-80E) trains.
The canals of the old town are lined with nice restaurants with atmosphere and ambience, varying from pricey to relatively affordable (we paid around 15E each at a German place close to the lake). If you are looking for someplace cheaper than that you only have to venture slightly outside the old town toward the bus station where you can find several quick taco and kebab shops (both, not combined).
We stayed in a nice little AirBnB in that area and stocked up on breakfast and lunch supplies at the Carrefour grocery store, saving both time and money. There is also a pretty good range of hotels on Booking if that is more your speed.
Finally, from Annecy there are many useful and short connections to nearby attractions like Geneva and Chamonix.