Day trip to Annecy, France

From Chamonix, there are several ways to get back to Geneva. Of course the same transportation options apply as described in the How to get there section of my arrival blog. But if you have a day to spare and would like to pack more into your return journey, I recommend a day trip to Annecy – a picturesque lake town in the French Alps. Plus, the cost is almost the same as the non-stop option 😉 If you have the time, that is.

First: How to get there?

Two bus companies serve the Chamonix to Annecy route. They are:

Flixbus (1hr 35min) – one per day, departs Chamonix Sud Bus Station at 7:15am, fare around €8

BlaBlaCar (1hr 15min) – six departures per day, fares between €10-13

Second: Where to store luggage?

While there are no lockers at the Gare d’Annecy (Annecy train station), which is conveniently located adjescent to the bus station. there are self-service lockers at the Centre Bonlieu (entrance on the “Forum Expo” side) – about 8 minutes walk from the bus/train station – just outside the Tourist Information office. Use “Forum exposition Bonlieu” in google maps. Detailed instructions are posted here at the TI website as well as on the machine with English option. The rate is 1€ per hour for a minimum of 2 hours.

Also, right across the train station, there’s a grocer called Vival, several people mentioned that they had left their luggages with them. I personally prefer the self-service locker for privacy and security.

Third: Where to have lunch?

Being the largest city in the Haute-Savoie department, Annecy has many dining options to choose from. I enjoyed my lunch at the Michelin Bib Gourmand restaurant Cozna.

Here I had: a glass of Rosé from Côte de Thongue, tomate gazpacho with pine nuts, pork tenderloin with cauliflower purée, and cherry clafoutis with yogurt ice cream. You just can’t go wrong with food in France!

Fourth: What to do?

Walk along the canal and the cobbled streets in the old town;

The fortified Palais de l’île was formerly a residence of Lord Annecy.  Later, it became a prison, as well as an administrative building, a court, a mint, and an archive. Classified as a historical monument in 1900, it now offers the most instagramable view of the Old Town.

Climb up to the castle if you so desire;

The Château d’Annecy was built by the Counts of Geneva who lived there from 1219. It was bought by Savoy in 1401, became the residence of the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours in the 16th century. During the Spanish occupation at the end of the 17th century it served as a barracks . In 1952 many homeless people took shelter in the castle, until the commune of Annecy bought it and restored it the following year. Today it houses the Castle-Museum and the Regional Observatory of the Alpine Lakes.

Be awed by the colour of the water;

Take a cruise on Lake Annecy;

Picnic at the Jardins de l’Europe;

In the Middle Ages, this park was home to “health huts” where the infected people stayed during epidemics. It was acquired by bankers from Lombardy in the 14th century and later by the Nemours family in the 17th century, In the 19th century, the town hall launched a competition to design the garden thus gave it the British style it is known for today.

Hire a boat for some fun time on the lake;

Or simply settle down on a bench by the lake and enjoy people watching;

Whatever you do, don’t forget to make a stop on the iconic Pont des Amours, with Lake Annecy and the mountain backdrop on one side, and the tree-lined Canal du Vassé on the other;

In front of the city hall, the giant Breathing Lotus Flower – designed by Korean artist Choi Jeong Hwa -reminds us to live in the fleeting moment of life.

A symbol of purity in Asian cultures, the petals move gently in a rhythm of their own, reminiscent of breathing or a beating heart.

Back in the old town, if church is your thing, there are several to visit, the Notre Dame de Liesse for one;

And the St. Peter’s Cathedral, where I learned about a young saint named Anne de Guigné (25 April 1911 – 14 January 1922).

Born in Annecy-le-Vieux, Anne was a jealous and proud girl untill the age of 4. However, on July 22nd 1915, upon learning the news of her father’s death, Anne became a changed person. She was no longer rude, studied hard and became very religious. She was declared Venerable on 3 March 1990 by Pope John Paul II.

This concludes my detour in Annecy on my way back to Geneva.

Fifth: Annecy to Geneva

There are buses and trains from Annecy to Geneva. The trains take about 1.5 hours (with a change, if heading to the Geneva Airport). Buses take about an hour to the Geneva Central Bus Station, from where it’s a short walk to the Cornavin railway station, where you can a board a train to the airport. I took the budget Flixbus to the Geneva Central Bus Station, for the cost of €5.

And with that, my total cost from Chamonix to Annecy then Geneva was €15, less than half of what I paid for the ride from Geneva Airport to Chamonix. Even if it’s the same, I enjoyed one more day seeing another city in the French Alps.

Coming up next: Geneva, Switzerland

17 thoughts on “Day trip to Annecy, France

  1. Annecy is STUNNING: I’ve gone twice, once in the dead of winter and another in a warmer, temperate fall. Either season, the city is a beautiful place with a mesmerizing, turquoise lake and a charming Old Town to wander around in. And being near the Alps certainly doesn’t hurt!

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