Annecy, the alpine capital of Haute Savoie, is the jewel of the Savoy alps. It’s famous for its mint-blue lake, medieval architecture, timeworn cobbled streets lined with buildings whose sherbert coloured shutters make visitors sigh with pleasure. Small bridges criss cross canals, the watery arteries of the city which give it its nickname ‘Venice of the Alps’.
It’s also surrounded by glorious countryside and mountains and villages steeped in history. Here are a few of the must see places near Annecy…
Doussard (in the Faverges-Seythenex commune) is like stepping into the past. A picturesque bridge over a bubbling river, houses that look like they’ve popped out of a fairy tale, flowers everywhere (top photo). You’ll remember that you’re in the 21st century when you look up on sunny days though, there’s a landing pad here for the dare devil paragliders who have launched themselves from the Col de la Forclaz! You’ll also find there the Bout du Lac nature reserve.
Visit the 1000 year old Chateau de Menthon-Saint-Bernard overlooking Lake Annecy. A saint was born in this castle and his descendants still live here.
Take a detour to Thones, just 20km from Annecy (about 30mins by bus) this buzzing, vibrant mountain town has oodles of charm. A visit here will give you a flavour of village life half way between the city and the resorts of the Aravis Massif, the Annecy mountains. Go on a Saturday to enjoy the market and if you’re lucky enough to be there when the food festival is on, first weekend of September – you’re in for a serious treat. Tourist office: www.thonescoeurdesvallees.com
Make for Manigod, 5km from Thones. A fairy-tale pretty mountain village with the most astonishing views over the Aravis mountains and glorious countryside. Read more on Manigod. Tourist office: en.manigod.com
Faverges just 25km from Annecy is a fascinating little town with a wonderful Wednesday morning market. The town is in a glacial valley which gave birth to Lake Annecy. In the summer the area holds a Festival des Cabanes, arty cabins dotted throughout the exquisite countryside, on the edge of lakes, alongside waterfalls, up mountains. Take a treasure hunt tour to see them all.
Climb the 13th century tower of the Chateau de Faverges. Visit the excellent Archaeological museum Viuz-Faverges with its fascinating collection of Roman artefacts from the local area. Next door, don’t miss the fabulous wall mural and the 12th century Church of Saint John the Baptist. In the crypt are the remains of a 1st century building and it’s an extraordinary experience to visit such an ancient room. Close by, the 13th century Keep of the Lords of Faverges features a 31m tall tower from which there are outstanding views over the countryside. Book a guided tour to visit the Keep and discover 2,500 years of history in the area: archeoviuz.fr
Discover the grotto and waterfall of Seythenex at the food of the Bauges Massif. And book a guided tour of the area known as Faverges-Seythenex which takes in several of the most beautiful villages in the area. Pop to the tourist office in Faverges for what’s on when you’re there: Place Marcel Piquand. Read more about Faverges here
More on Annecy
Cycling around Lake Annecy – lakeside villages, castles and stunning countryside
For inspiration and loads of ideas for what to see and do in and around Annecy Mountains head here: www.annecymountains.com