5 NOTEWORTHY THINGS ABOUT ANNECY, FRANCE
I’ve come to the conclusion that Annecy should be on your radar of small towns to visit if you’re traveling through the country of France or Switzerland! Located 5 hours southeast of Pairs, and 22 miles from Geneva, Annecy is a tucked away gem worth discovering. The moment I heard about this charming, A-letter French village, full of castles and mountains was known to be one of the most photographed locations in the world, I knew I had to make the trip! So welcome to Annecy! I’m here to guide you though my quick day trip and leave you with five noteworthy things I discovered while here in Annecy, France.
1. ANNECY IS KNOWN FOR MANY NAMES
Nicknamed the Pearl of French Alps, Annecy is positioned between Lake Annecy and the French Alps. Bearing the northern entrance of the cleanest lake in Europe (Lake Annecy), Annecy has a mountainous a backdrop that almost seems close enough to touch. Similar to what most people think of Switzerland and the picture perfect background, Annecy’s location and beauty is postcard worthy. In addition to the lake, the city of Annecy is also famous for its beautiful old town. The cities waterways, canals, and romantic bridges is what gives the city its second nickname —The Venice of the Alps. As the calm waters wind through the city next to cobbled stone banks, Lake Annecy finds itself at the foot of many homes, markets and even castles. A walk down the Rue Royale will be rewarded with prime shopping, dining and people-watching. I assume the city’s European charm mixed together with the mountains and clear water is why Annecy is a sought after French destination boasting two nicknames… but just wait, there’s more!
2. ANNECY’S HISTORY DATES BACK SIX THOUSAND YEARS!
The city of Annecy was built around 4000 B.C. With its ancient European enchantment, it is extremely easy to get mesmerized by the colorful clay buildings as they whisk you through out the cobbled streets. And like many other villages built so long ago, Annecy was once kept between confined walls.
To protect itself from external attacks, Annecy in the Middle Ages had a fortified enclosure. To get in and out of the city, you had to take protected passages and pay a tax. Of these key passages, few remain and the Porte Perrière is one of the examples still standing, only modified a little by the time.
Palais de l’Isle
The city kind of gives off an old town fairytale vibe — almost as if Rapunzel could be locked up in a tower just a few blocks away. And while Annecy is home to many castles, one of the main attractions is The Palais de l’Isle. The Palais de l’Isle is a castle built on an island in the middle of the city dating back to the 12th century and follows the shape of the two branches of the Thiou River. And even though it has never kept any Disney princesses hostage, it did serve as prison before the French Revolution and then again during World War II. So instead of being a home to the elite, this multipurpose castle was used to keep foreign captives jailed and and also served as courthouse for hundreds of years. Today this castle is used as a museum where visitors can take a look inside.
3. IF YOU’RE HUNGRY, TRY A RACLETTE
If you’re looking to put your lips onto something traditional while in Annecy, hop into any local restaurant and order a Raclette. A Raclette is a French delicacy dating back to midlevel times. And while this dish only consist of two simple ingredients, potatoes and cheese, the way it is cooked right on your table in a mini dutch oven was pretty foreign to me. Up top in the oven, potatoes are boiling in water and inside of the oven, thick white cheese slices are and melting in a small frying pan. Once the potatoes are soft and warm you take the melted cheese out and drape it over the cracks of the potato and bite into its sizzling goodness. While it’s only a spin on what I know as a cheesy baked potatoe, the taste of a Raclette is utterly different than what I imagined as I think it has a lot to do with the cheese. Raclette cheese is a Savoyard-type cheese, marketed specifically to be used for this dish — Raclette d´Annecy. After a day of exploring, and a natural food lover I was starving before sitting down to eat, but after only taking a couple of bites, this hearty dish instantly brought me back to life. A few more bites later, I was tired as I found myself slowly entering a food coma. It doesn’t take much to fill up on this hearty dish. Raclette’s are typically sided with various meats, a side salad and pairs great with white wine. To be honest, this is something I would have overlooked on the menu as I almost did and ordered a boring Caesar salad. Thankfully, I was with a French native who recommended me to this dish, but if you’re not with someone who has the “in” on the local food, take my word and try it. My mouth is watering just thinking about it.
4. PONT DES AMOURS
If you are interested in a romantic experience while in Annecy, don’t shy away from Pont des Amours. Pont des Amours is translated to The Bridge of Lovers as it links one of the entrances from Lake Annecy to the canals of the Thiou River. Standing on the bridge, the 360-degree views are that of the French Alps, Lake Annecy, row boats, other vessels, and large green areas to rest. It’s a lovely bridge in a pretty spot. The legend on the bridge tells that if two lovers give a kiss on the deck they will be united for life.
It is often quite crowded with couples taking photos, obviously, but it is a nice bridge to see and walk over.
5. BOOK AT ROOM AT THE IMPERIAL PALACE
While there are many beautiful places to stay inside of Annecy, if you’re looking to feel like a princess (like I always am) check out the Imperial Palace. This hotel sits right off Lake Annecy with spectacular views of nature and castles off in the hills. The road leading up to this hotel will wind you up though the mountains until you land on this palace-like building. The modern amenities, especially the pool and spa and the views from my suite was just the cherry on top. Here are a few pictures from the property.