4 Hours in Annecy

I love Annecy.

When you're eleven days deep in a vacation, totally enthralled by jagged mountains and ancient architecture (all of which snuggle up to Annecy), the allure of the French language, and the buzzing of France’s friendly villages, it's easy to forgo real life.  So, as Winston and I were en route to Grandma and Grandpa’s house, we made the decision to chop up our journey into two days, and spend half of one in the teensy, rustic lake town of Annecy, France.  

Good move, team us.

Annecy is a food town.  This landmark is teeming with some of the best cuisine haunts, a bright blue lake, and a legion of swans.  While we only scored four hours here, we banked on a busy, action-packed afternoon, and sucked up every minute of it. And had time been on our side, we never would have left.  

Don’t skip Annecy on your venture down the southern coast.  Sure, Nice is nice, and Marseilles and Monaco are lively, but if authentic French finds are what you seek, scope out an afternoon in this lake town, trill your days away on a paddle boat, and voila!

Here is our tried and true itinerary for snagging four hours of bliss in Annecy (now you can’t skip it).

1. Feed your inner crepe monster at Le Clocher

Here’s a secret about cheesing in France: the recipes are all dripping with local cheeses, which are handmade, named after local towns (like Emmental, which we drove through in Switzerland), and stuff you’ll never taste again if you live in the USA.  So, we splurged our taste buds at Le Clocher - a cozy, shaded city bite one street over from the canals - on two savory crepes, each folded with local cheese (and arugula and baked tomatoes), and it was heaven.  


2. Paddle a boat on Lake Annecy

If you’re enjoying your lakeside stroll, curve into the first paddle boat stop you see, snag an hourlong rental, and row away on the big, blue lake (so, have your swimsuit at hand).  Even at the glacier’s edge in mid-June, the cold water won’t bite you.  We swam with swans, basked under the Pyrenees mountains, and dove deep in crystal clean waters.  Whatever you do, don’t skimp out on a half-hour paddle.  Choose an hour.  This experience doesn’t break the bank, and time is slippery when you’re sunning in Europe.

3. Stroll the canals

Post dry-off, Winston and I walked the long canals of Annecy, feeding swans, popping into chocolate shops, and eventually munching a pre-dinner ice cream.  The canals are lined with famed menus and shimmering gift shops (love me a good gift shop), and if you go the right direction, you might run into the Pont des Amours, a bridge that breaches the canal where romancers can eternalize their love.  (Careful who you kiss there).  

4. Lunch by the Palais de l’Isle

While there are a number of pricy little joints that line this medieval prison on the canal, we banked on a meal at Ô Savoyard, a cozy little outdoor sitting that stirred up our love of authentic Italian pizza.  The canal is alive with swans, and the medieval structure at its center (once a prison, then a Viscount’s castle, and now a tiny hotel), is worth getting a glimpse.  Enjoy your final loaded cheese-and-bread meal.  It’s worthy every penny.

5. Stop for ice cream

If you’re smart, you’ll save ice cream for after your lunch.  But if you’re smarter, you’ll plan your canal route mischeviously around Alpine Glacier, a charming, wooden ice cream parlor that’s brimming with bright, homespun flavors.  I read somewhere that this was the yummiest ice cream in Annecy, and it did not fail my inner-rating.  What better way to live a European summer life than with true glace, a savory crepe breakfast, and a paddle on the Lac?


And, just like that, four hours have escaped you.  So, as time ticks, and you chug along to Grandma’s house, put all those Annecy memories in the back pocket, and prepare for some beachy bliss on the shores of our next locale, Biarritz.

Bonne journée!