Searching for a fabulous French day trip whose beauty will take your breath away? How does spending 24 hours in the village nicknamed the “Pearl of the French Alps” or “Venice of the Alps” sound? Cobblestone streets, twisting canals and a crystalline lake comprise our favorite Alpine village. Look no further than 24 hours in the stunning, Savoyard gem of Annecy, France.
Despite being a French city, Annecy is actually most quickly accessed from the neighboring Swiss city of Geneva. Annecy can be reached in two hours via scenic train ride, or cut the travel time in half by renting a car. Annecy is also a wonderful day trip from Lyon; at only an hour and 40 minutes by car, you’ll reach your destination in no time.
When in France, do as the French do and get your breakfast at the local boulangerie. We recommend the boulangerie Tres Alp’ain, centrally located in the vielle ville. Grab some croissants, pains au chocolat or a simple baguette — but don’t forget a petit cafe. You’ll need the espresso for your day of walking.
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After late-morning breakfast, wander over to the Lac d’Annecy for some afternoon fun; it’s actually the third-largest lake in all of France. Better yet, Annecy’s famous lake is actually known for being the cleanest in all of Europe. Marvel at the crystalline waters and stunning mountain range backdrop. Weather permitting, rent a paddle boat or some water skis and push your way through the crisp, translucent water for yourself. Too cold for water activities? Not a problem — bring your favorite book or journal along and relax on one of the many wooden benches studded along the lake.
Hope you arrived to Annecy hungry. The city’s food scene is most renowned for one thing: cheese, cheese and more cheese. Head to O Savoyard for a gooey, gastronomical experience. Share a fondue savoyarde traditionelle for two or savor a tartiflette for one. Either way, cheese wines. White wine lovers, pair your dish with a glass of local Jacquere; red wine aficionados, Mondeuse is for you — especially if you love Pinot Noir.
Pont des Amours – Jardins de l’Europe
Food coma? We thought so. Walk off (some) of that lunch with a stroll over the romantic Pont des Amours for a scenic view of the lake. Marvel at the rows of quiet canoes swaying in the gentle waters, imagining all the lovers who found themselves on the footbridge before you. Head over to Jardins de l’Europe afterward for a tranquil walk among the 600 trees — the perfect spot for a peaceful afternoon snooze.
Who said a little educational excursion didn’t belong on your dreamy alpine day? Work those glutes on the inclined walk up to Chateau d’Annecy, a medieval castle in the heart of the village. Find the Musée du Film d’Animation attached to the castle, with rotating expositions on all things animation. There’s a regular standing collection of archives as well.
Thirsty? We thought so. Head to Captain Pub or Beer O’Clock for a sudsy, pre-dinner aperitif. Snag one of the outdoor tables at Captain Pub for optimal people-watching and canal-side sipping. With so many beers on tap, it’s definitely hard to choose, though as always, we recommend going local. Mont Blanc La Blanche is a perfect start to your evening apéro. Prefer a strong, triple-malt amber instead? La Rousse is the one for you.
End the day on a high note with a fantastically filling Savoyard meal. Head to Auberge du Lyonnais for impeccable canal-side seating. Start the evening with a local bottle of wine — again, we recommend a Mondeuse-based red, and cheers your way into one of the best dinner’s of your life. Reblochon cheese is a Savoy speciality not to be missed, whether fried up croquette-style on your salad or served up on a stinky cheese plate. If you passed on fondue at lunch, there’s no better time than now to profit from the melty goodness of this alpine specialty. Wash it down with a Gateau de Savoie and roll your way back to your quaint hotel room to recover from your self-imposed cheese coma.
Where to Stay
For basic accommodations, Hotel de Savoie provides all of your basic needs while centrally located. For more luxurious accommodations, look to the four-star palatial Hotel Imperial Palace, or Lofts & Lakes for a relaxing, spa experience.