Where should we go? One of the amazing things about living in France is having the world at your fingertips. C’mon, thousands of noteworthy destinations within a stone’s throw. And add in having your college pal living in France with you? That means many girls’ weekends to be had. So when my friend Tori and I decided we wanted to take another weekend trip, we started spitballing ideas and landed on Annecy, a town of 125,000 in eastern France. Personally, I don’t think you can go wrong with any destination in France, so when Tori made this suggestion, I said sure, let’s go. And friends, I fell in love with this lake-mountain town with the bluest water and amazing bikeability. With these 8 things to do in Annecy, you’re sure to swoon over this destination, too.
If you even remotely enjoy biking, Annecy aims to please. I like biking but am not terribly confident when it’s on busy, car-jammed roads. In Annecy, there are plenty of biking only paths, and Tori and I made use of the free bikes that came with our Airbnb rental, which was delightful as well. You can bike along the lake’s edge and throughout the town.
There were zero Uber options, and the taxi service we called was outrageously expxensive. You definitely can do Annecy without a car as the town isn’t terribly large, but we were bummed that we couldn’t explore the mountains and gorges more. Consider renting a car, but it’s also entirely possible to enjoy Annecy by foot and bike.
If you know me, you know I’m a big castle girl. Heck, my French friend invited me to stay in his castle for a weekend, so I know a thing or two. Lucky for me and other castle aficianados, Annecy is home to a castle-museum combo. Musée-Château Annecy served as a home for the Counts of Geneva until the end of the 14th century. Today, you can wander the castle halls that have since been filled with artwork and artifacts. Unfortunately, Tori and I had only an hour to explore before it closed, but it was worth the walk up the hill. Because we were under age 26, our tickets were only 3 euros. Pas mal. The village and lake views from the castle are splendid.
Annecy is also home to some darling boutiques worth browsing. Tori and I spent quite some time at a boutique called Le Grenier, where we both left with pieces we loved. I found a leopard maxi skirt and had to immediately wear it out that night. This boutique is located on Rue de l’Ile along with many other fun shops to peruse.
What’s better than looking at the bluest lake on a sunny day? Getting out on it. Tori and I rented paddle boards for 15 euros an hour right along the shore, and it was magnificent. Photos cannot describe how awe-inspiring this nook of France is, sincerely. If paddle boarding isn’t your thing, there are a plethora of options and shops right along the shore that will be happy to offer you their services.
Le Pont des Amours
I feel like every major French city has some type of bridge devoted to lovers, and Annecy is no exception with its Pont des Amours. Head on over to Le Pont des Amours to peek at the locks and get a beautiful lake view.
In love with La France profonde and its classic touches reminiscent of Beauty and the Beast? Take a stroll through Annecy’s markets of fresh produce, cheese, clothes, olives, tapenades, jewelry, antiques — there is truly something for everyone to browse. Head over to Old Town near Église Saint François and follow the canal. Here’s what markets are open when.
Brasserie Saint Maurice
Tori and I strolled in all casual and asked for a table for 2 at Brasserie Saint Maurice. The host told us we were lucky because that’s all they had left since we hadn’t made reservations. And what a luck of the draw because not only was the ambience so summery and tranquil but also the food was fantastic. Tori and I planned to do a fancy dinner of drinks, apéro and meals, but after ordering the charcuterie and cheese board — which was an art form itself — we didn’t have room for a meal. I’ve had some meh charcuterie, but this one will reign at the top of my list as one of the best planches I’ve ever tasted.
Le Palais des Glaces
If you know me, you know I’m always down for ice cream. I have a lot of ice cream experience under my belt and have high standards. I tried multiple ice cream shops in Annecy, but I’m only sharing Le Palais des Glaces because it truly blew me out of the park. Their homemade Snickers flavor made me drool, and the ice cream presentation is top-notch.
I still cannot get over Annecy. As much as I love France, I’ve visited places where I’ve said to myself, Meh, I don’t need to come back. But Annecy enchanted me and beckons for another visit. Save this post for the best things to do in Annecy, France.
Craving more French lake vibes? Here’s my guide to Les Gorges du Verdon.