Annecy is a like one of those fairytale towns where princesses live in castles and Prince Charming rides his white horse on the cobblestone streets. Very old, very adorable and most definitely very French!
I visited this cute town in the Haute Savoie region a month ago after my hiking trip to the Alps and it was a nice change to the peace and quiet of the mountains. Annecy is definitely a town that attracts a fair number of visitors, both foreign and French, so it seems like a very lively town -especially at dinner time when the restaurants in the old town are packed full. Finding vegan food without any prior research wasn’t exactly easy but luckily there was a cool Asian fusion place with delicious tofu stir fry. Not very French, but this country is not exactly known for its vegan friendly cuisine.
Since we’re already on the food topic I have to say that I have not seen as many gelato stalls anywhere (not even in Italy for heaven’s sake!) as I did along the narrow streets of Annecy. It was unbelievable, no matter which way you looked or which corner you turned there was always a gelato stand in sight. They all advertised local fresh gelato too and pardon my ignorance but I had no idea that this area was somehow famous for its gelato? So of course when I was exploring and taking photos I could not resist the friendly smiles of the gelato vendors but just had to get a fresh strawberry sorbet. While gelato is of course made of milk their fruity cousins sorbets are just that -fruit and juice based and absolutely yummy! So worry not aspiring vegans, you do not have to give up these kinds of treats because where there is gelato there is also sorbet.
For a relatively small town Annecy has a lot going for it. Not only is it a town with rich history (yes I know, which French town isn’t?) and has beautiful pastel colour buildings but there is also the edge of the Alps on the background with a blue shimmering lake between the town and the mountains. Sounds like a picture perfect set up, doesn’t it? And as if that wasn’t enough, there are also some canals that at times create an eerily Venice-like look. And it just so happens that despite being a tourist cliché, Venice is one of my favourite cities in Europe.
Not unlike Venice, Annecy lake offers a lot of romantic activities like going on a dinner cruise at sunset or renting a small row boat (or their modern yet still outdated alternative, pedal boats) and watching the sun go down behind the hills. The white swans swimming around the boats are just another little detail Annecy got right!
I would love to explore more French towns like this one and I dream of doing a vineyard tour somewhere in France going from a charming little town to another. If you are in the Haute Savoie area I highly recommend visiting Annecy, even if it is only briefly. Geneva is only 30km away and Chamonix around 100km to the east so it is quite easy to add Annecy to the itinerary. As long as there is no train strike going on!
Would you or have you visited Annecy? Or do you have any recommendations on other cute little French towns worth visiting?