WHEN imagining that quintessential French holiday, Paris immediately comes to mind. However take a look beyond the beguiling City of Lights, and you will find France is a country full of many beautiful places waiting to be explored. And the city of Annecy, about 5 hours drive south of Paris is just one of those places you should experience.
Nestled at the southern tip of the azure waters of Lake Annecy, and framed by the majestic peaks of the Haute-Savoie region, Annecy is a bewitching city that embraces the true French provincial way of life.
In the city’s heart, the medieval village houses countless cafes nestled among pastel coloured buildings that line cobbled-stoned streets. Aperitifs can be sipped while watching resident white swans glide across near-still waters of ancient canals that sweep beneath centuries-old footbridges.
Annecy is also home to one of France’s most photographed monuments, the twelfth-century, Palais de l’Isle. Built in 1132, this ancient building sits in the centre of Thiou, the city’s most famous canal.The distinctive Palais de l’Isle, once the primary residence of the Lord of Annecy, became a jail from the Middle Ages until 1865. Classified as a Historical Monument in 1900, today it houses a local history museum and is a willing model for both amateur and professional photographers the world over.
For market lovers, the medieval village in the old town quarter comes alive three days a week. Here you can forage among stalls loaded with local produce and a mouthwatering array of cheeses, wine and freshly baked breads.
Although Annecy is said to be one of the most expensive places in France, a visit to this picturesque place won’t necessarily break the bank. Affordable accommodation can be found in Gites, rooms or fully self-contained apartments in local homes. They are a great way to experience the local culture and the helpful staff in the Tourism office located in the centre of town can assist with bookings.
Annecy is a city that caters to all seasons. In summer, kayaking, canoeing, cycling, hiking or recreational swimming can be enjoyed. Or for skiing buffs, Annecy is a great base during the winter months.The Olympic city of Albertville, or resorts such as Chamonix and the ultra-chic Megeve are only a short drive away. Along the way you can soak up the charm of provincial life by visiting the many charming villages and castles that dot the landscape.
Regardless of when you visit, you are sure to be embraced by the charm and beauty of this magical French city.