5 Reasons You Should Visit Lake Annecy

STORY BY Megan Hughes 23rd June 2018

An incredibly beautiful lake surrounded by wonderful mountain vistas, it’s a picture-perfect summer destination. However, there is much more to Lake Annecy than its eye-catching beauty, and for active holidaymakers who love the great outdoors, here are five reasons you should definitely give Lake Annecy a visit.

1. Watersports

Lake Annecy is the perfect destination for anyone who loves water sports or wants to give them a go for the first time. From wake-boarding to water-skiing and wake-surfing, the water is often fairly flat and warm, and it’s much more pleasant to fall over in than salt water! Early morning or later evening are the best times to get out on the water, as this tends to be when the lake is smoothest and there are fewer other boats on the water.

The water can reach around 24°C in summer, which makes it a much more appealing place to dip your toe into water sports (excuse the pun) than some of the more chilly lakes in the UK. With many businesses around the lakeside offering tuition and hire of equipment, water sports are easily accessible. If you want to take things a bit more easy, why not give paddle boarding a go? It’s a great way to explore the lake and a really fun way to spend an afternoon!

2. Paragliding

For a different view of the water, visit the famous “Col de la Forclaz” – a must-visit take-off destination for paragliding fans. Offering a bird’s-eye view of the stunning turquoise water and surrounding mountains, paragliding here is an experience you are sure to remember forever. Take a tandem flight with an instructor, who will control the glide and will also be able to point out places of interest and interesting facts about the area. Of course, this is weather dependent – so keep an eye on the forecast!

3. The “Venice of the Alps”

The town of Annecy has a rich history, and upon visiting, it is clear to see why it is often referred to as the “Venice of the Alps”. The canals, lined with beautiful coloured houses, flower boxes and wrought iron railings, are truly delightful to explore. Then, take a walk up to the museum at the castle, Château d’Annecy, to learn more about the history of the area. The Observatory here includes aquariums displaying local fish, information on the mountain environment, fishing equipment and local wildlife.

In the midday heat, cool down with an ice cream in the lovely walled medieval town and explore the many shops and markets, before stopping for a drink at Café des Ducs overlooking the Palais de l’Ile, the unique former prison building. The bridge here (Pont Perrière) offers a prime photo opportunity, with the stunning blue waters of the Thiou River diverging at the Palais de l’Ile. Time for dinner? There are many restaurants along the waterside here which offer traditional Savoyarde cuisine and a lively atmosphere against a beautiful backdrop.

4. Fête du Lac

Once a year, on the first weekend of August, Lake Annecy plays host to an incredible display of pyrotechnics as they celebrate the “Fete du Lac”.

The fireworks often last for over an hour, and each year the celebration has a different theme, with music accompanying the firework display. Developed from the “Venetian” feast that took place in 1860 to honour Napoleon III, the event has become an annual celebration of the lake. Now, almost 200,000 spectators watch the festival unfold, from either the shore or from the water itself. Last year, I was lucky enough to be able to view the event from the lake, on one of the hundreds of boats that take to the water to enjoy the spectacle from a different angle. It really is a unique and powerful experience bobbing around with hundreds of others, all sharing in this magical celebration. The theme for 2018 is “Around the World” and will take the audience on a journey across the earth, celebrating all that this magnificent world of ours has to offer.

5. Cycling

Lake Annecy has a multitude of cycling opportunities, for both amateurs as well as keen athletes, with well-kept cycle paths, a variety of hill climbs and flat paths, and stunning surrounding views.

The magnificent views of the lake from Col de la Forclaz are even more rewarding at the end of a long ride. You can cycle up here, but it’s pretty steep (with stretches between 12 to 13%), so make sure you’re prepared! You can also loop around the lake via Col de la Forclaz if you want more of a challenge than the busy, flatter lakeside path. For those that enjoy steeper terrain, you can also take the route up to the highest point in the area at Le Semnoz, which featured as part of the Tour de France back in 2013.

If you prefer something slightly less strenuous, there is a particularly enjoyable gentle cycle path that travels pretty much all the way to Albertville along old railway lines. Or, for a longer route, you can take the path between Annecy and Grenoble, which covers around 133km and takes you through some incredible scenic landscapes. There are many train stations along the route as well, which means that if you do feel too tired to complete the whole route, you have an easy way back!

The most relaxing two-wheel experience is the car-free cycling track that runs the whole way around the lake. This offers an opportunity for less confident cyclists to appreciate the beauty of the area for themselves in a safe and stress-free way. While it’s mostly flat, there are a couple of hills on the Talloires side to be aware of. It’s enough to work up a sweat and definitely enough to warrant that ice cream halfway round.

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