I have to admit I had never heard of Annecy before my friend suggested it as a holiday location. One of my closest friends lives in California (we met travelling across Europe in 2006, and have since seen each other most years, living with each other in London and even being each other’s bridesmaids!) and had planned a big European trip with her husband and two kids, researching (mainly through blogs!) family friendly destinations and Annecy came up. She suggested it as somewhere to meet up and I thought ‘why not’, it’d be lovely to spend some time with her family without all the sightseeing pressures of London, and Peggy loves hanging out with older kids. We honestly didn’t expect to love it so much! I had a fair few questions whilst we were out there, and although I didn’t plan on doing a blogpost (which is why all these photos are more casual, iPhone snaps!), I thought it might be nice to answer a few of the questions posed, here…
HOW DO YOU GET THERE?
This was the hardest part of the planning of the trip, to be honest. It’s not exactly near an airport – you can fly to Geneva, which is the cheapest way, and then hire a car or travel by train or bus. We flew to Lyon with Easyjet and rented a car as we thought it would be less tricky without the hassle of crossing the border etc and it was *quite* straightforward, if probably not the cheapest or easiest in hindsight (tip: do not book with Europcar!). Someone also mentioned that you can get the Eurostar to Paris and then change to Annecy which might be a great option for cutting down on the carbon footprint, but it was a pricier option.
IS IT REALLY EXPENSIVE TO EAT THERE?
We only ate out for two nights and if I’m being really transparent here, we went to the same restaurant! The town centre itself is beautiful, with hundreds of open-air restaurants set on the three canals but a lot of them seemed French brasserie prices, €20 for a main dish and quite touristy. For the first evening, we arrived late so opted for a basic sourdough pizza place (‘The Little Italy’) as we could share with Peggy (and the pizzas can be ordered by halves and are quite affordable), and the staff were so friendly we booked to go back with our friends the next evening!
But it was so easy not to spend too much. The park by the lake has so much going on – fairground rides, playgrounds, live music etc – one night we just enjoyed walking around the lake and letting the kids play and ate some takeaway sushi. There was a Farmer’s market by my friend’s apartment so she picked some food up for sandwiches one day and we made a picnic by the lake for lunch.
IS IT GOOD FOR KIDS?
Yes. SO good. We’re not quite at the stage where we have to think ‘too’ much about what Peggy needs, as she can’t walk yet and is quite limited with what she can play with, but I would love to bring her back when she’s older!
It is so set up for outdoor activities – renting boats, hiring bikes, swimming in the lake (we swam next to a mother duck with her ducklings!). There is so much to do, plus the ‘beaches’ are grassy banks stretching onto the lake so it’s soft and comfortable for sunbathing, and most spots have a cafe, toilets and showers nearby. We went in July and it wasn’t too busy, and if you cycle or drive, you can keep going until your find a spot to park/rest – we snagged a free parking space by the beach when we went.
There are also lots of local open-air sports centres, we spent one afternoon at a local outdoor paddling pool (Piscine des Marquisats) with slides, a splashpad and a huge pool for adults (just a 15 minute walk from the centre of Annecy) – €5 all day for adults (kids are free), which was great for smaller kids. My friend sent me a link to the water park they found after we had left (a bit further around the lake), which they said was amazing – Plage de Menthon Saint Bernard.
DO YOU NEED TO HIRE A CAR?
The Lake is quite big, it would take around an hour to drive around it and there are some gorgeous little villages and towns to stop off and see but that said, we tried to drive to the beautiful village of Talloires – it came highly recommended and looked stunning as we drove down, but even in early July we couldn’t find a space to park.
You can easily rent bikes to get around, and the bike paths are so well laid out, you don’t need to be an expert (and there are tons of cafes you can stop off at on the way!).
IS IT GOOD FOR COUPLES OR A FRIENDS HOLIDAY, TOO?
Yes – if you like the outdoors (or even just sunbathing!), then this is for you. It’s beautiful, so won’t disappoint, and I even surprised myself with how much I enjoyed cycling around the lake. There are loads of pedalos and rowing boats you can rent, too, not to mention the restaurants which I am sure stay open until after 7:30pm!
There are lots of live music too by the main park in front of the lake, it was Bastille Day when we were there and everyone was preparing for the fireworks at around 11pm.
IS IT MORE THAN A WEEKEND BREAK?
I think a week here would really help the mind relax.
ARE THERE LOADS OF MOSQUITOS AND MIDGES?
We didn’t notice any!
WHERE IS GOOD TO STAY?
Again, we can’t answer this wholly, as we booked an Air Bnb which looked close at first glance (without knowing anything about the town) and it was 30 minute walk via an underpass to the town! If returning, we would stay either in an apartment near the main town by the canals, or perhaps in another, less touristy village along the Lake – maybe Talloires (which has beautiful medieval architecture). There were lots of campsites too, which usually sounds like my worst nightmare but here? I think I could…
I hope that has given you a bit of an idea on Annecy, I’ve never been one for a French holiday (I’m a Spain-lover!) but this has completely changed my mind and we can’t wait to explore more of the area.