If someone were to ask me what was my favorite part of my France trip, visiting Annecy tops the list. There are many day trips you could take from Lyon, and Annecy is probably one of the further ones, though definitely worth the trip. I had been debating between Annecy or Geneva, Switzerland and ultimately chose Annecy because of the village vibe and colorful buildings. I thought that Geneva would be too similar to Lyon as a city, so I’m saving it for next time!
You can get to Annecy by car, train, or bus. Erik and I opted for a combination of train and bus to accommodate convenience of timing more than anything. First, we took a Ouibus from Gare de Lyon-Perrache, the city’s main bus station a little before 10am and the trip was a little over 2 hours. Tickets cost around 40 euros for round trip per person. You go through the French countryside (of course) and there were miles of agriculture and small towns. The bus takes you straight to Annecy’s main train station, and the town is small enough that everything is accessible by foot.
France is definitely well known for each of its cities’ old towns, and Annecy’s did not disappoint. If you’ve seen those picturesque photos all over Pinterest, they’re from Annecy! Annecy’s Old Town is lined with canals with crystal clear water that has melted from the snow from the French Alps. And that’s also why Lake Annecy has super clear water. The skies were a bit overcast so the water reflected an almost murky color, which is just the color of the sediments at the bottom of the canals. The town was still so beautiful though.
Annecy’s most famous building is Le Palais de l’îsle (or Palace l’île), which is a medieval castle and prison in the middle of the canals. It’s now an art and history museum, though we didn’t enter the building.
After wandering through the shops and looking into the restaurants, we decided to stop for lunch at Le Pichet, which didn’t have very many good vegetarian options as we thought, but there were also a lack of other restaurants that had veggie options anyway. Erik got some sort of vegetarian pasta which he noted wasn’t very tasty. On the other hand, I ordered something that was similar to fondue. It was a large bowl of baked cheese with potatoes and bacon underneath. I tried to ask for the bacon to be removed but it wasn’t possible. It was still very good though and filled me up right away with the carbs and fat.
After lunch, we grabbed some gelato and went towards Château d’Annecy. It costs 5 euros per person to enter the grounds and visit the museum. I thought it was pretty interesting to see how medieval life in the castle was like!
At the back of the castle, there are stunning views of the city with Old Town roofs in full view, and Lake Annecy in the distance.
Then, we decided it was time to explore the lake itself. We chose to rent bikes at this shop for 1-2 hours, and rode along the west side of the lake. We stopped to take some beautiful pictures:
After 40 minutes or so, it started to rain! So we had to rush back to town and get under cover since I didn’t have a hood and balancing an umbrella while riding a bike would be silly. We stopped by another gelato and crepe shop for a pre-dinner snack, walked along past Old Town, and down Rue Carnot for some window shopping. We still had a few hours before our train back to Lyon, so it was more wandering around the non-Old Town part of Annecy, and stopping by a bakery for a light dinner.
We took a train back to Lyon at 8pm, and arrived just before 10pm. Trains go to and from Lyon Part-Dieu, so it was a different station than the one we left from that morning. It’s also further away from our Airbnb and so we opted to take an Uber for speed and convenience as we were to do some laundry that night, courtesy of Jean-Pierre 🙂
Overall, Annecy is an amazing day trip that I would gladly go again and ride around the entire Lake Annecy if I could. It’s a must-visit if you’re ever in that area and I could not recommend this cute town enough. Hope you enjoyed reading and the pictures <3