I love lakes. I love them for their settings, for their water activities, for their unsalted water, for how they provide beautiful scenery to landlocked areas, for their geological history. I grew up surrounded by thousands of lakes in Minnesota, so naturally, lakes are some of my favorite settings. I even have a bucket list of lakes I hope to see someday.
But there’s one lake that beats all other lakes that I’ve visited to date. It’s Lac d’Annecy.
Located an easy 45-minute drive from Geneva, Switzerland, a little over an hour from Grenoble, France, and about two hours from Lyon, France, it is easy to access and well worth carving out a day or more to visit.
Annecy – the lake and the town – has the kind of setting that would be perfect for one of those throwback hand-illustrated posters that evoke images of bygone eras when vacations were spent leisurely paddling canoes and playing croquet in big poofy dresses.
Wandering around Annecy feels like being on a movie set. Towering Alps in the distance, expansive parks along the shoreline, narrow streets bustling with outdoor markets, flower-lined canals cutting through historic buildings. It is quite simply the most picturesque place I have ever visited.
Which is why words won’t do it justice.
Instead, I’ll share a curated selection of the dozens of photos I took during our visit. We didn’t have a set itinerary, except to rent bikes and dip our toes in the lake. That gave us the freedom to wander, take photos, eat gelato, and soak in every moment and breathtaking view of the day.
View from the Jardins de l’Europe inside of town.
We rode bikes around the lake. A must-do in Annecy! I loved my little orange cruiser. (Bikes rented for a half day for €15 through Roule’ Ma Poule.)
Paddle boats, for the leisurely lake-goer.
The million-dollar view. Taken from the bike and walking path that stretches for miles along the lake between Annecy and Annecy-le-Vieux.
How I want to spend my summers.
The Imperial Palace Hotel & Casino in Annecy (it’s not actually a former palace, just looks like one)
The view of Annecy along the last stretch of biking & walking path in Annecy-le-Vieux. From there you bike on roads with many hills. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Beaches and Parks by the Lake
Jardins de l’Europe, right in the middle of town.
Jardins de l’Europe. I call this one “dream sequence” because, come on.
A canal with boats near the Pont des Amours (The Love Bridge). Someday I’ll have a wooden boat.
A girl looks at the lake from Pont des Amours.
A park along the lakeshore and bike path.
Plage d’Albigny in Annecy-le-Vieux, about a five minute bike ride from Annecy.
The final stop on our brief bike tour – a little snack shop across the lake. Admittedly we only biked the equivalent of a 20-25-minute ride, but you can bike around the full lake. You’ll want to rent bikes for a full day if you do that.
Dipping my toes in the water.
I always have my favorite sunscreen handy!
I could stay here forever!
Skirt: Loft (similar style)
Sandals: Steve Madden (similar, in tan)
Hat: Lou Lou Boutiques
Annecy – Ville
Aurélien and Nara (our day trip buddies) strolling in the city.
We happened upon this buzzing street market.
It had everything – vegetables, fruit, cheese, meat, honey and jams, ice cream, prepared food, flowers, you name it.
Painted purple onions.
Historic houses keep watch over the market.
A flower-filled balcony as seen through a medieval arch.
The signature view in Annecy: looking along le Thiou past the Old Jail. Too bad they were refurbishing it, but there were plenty of other beautiful sight lines for pictures.
Cafes line le Thiou river.
Deux boules (two scoops) of honey lavender and cassis ice cream/sorbet. So good!
The view down le Thiou from the other side of the Old Jail.
Perfect reflections in the water.
One of many bright flowers lining the river.
A plant gets some sun.
Again looking down le Thiou. I could have stood there all day. Look at the mountain in the background! What a setting.
Another part of the river further in the city. As always, lined with beautiful greenery and flowers.
A pedestrian street in the main shopping district. I love the overhead lamps!
Are you in love yet?
I could have spent a week here – it’s the perfect place for a retreat, to get away from life and recharge among the breathtaking natural scenery. I will definitely be back!
The following resources provide more information about the history of Annecy and what you can do when you visit.
Have you been to Annecy? Let me know what you thought about it in the comments!