Europe France

Is Annecy the prettiest town in Europe?

Pastel buildings in Annecy old town, France

A pastel coloured town with a shimmering turquoise lake and mountain backdrop, check. So enchanting that you feel like you’ve stepped into a fairytale storybook, check, check, check! Welcome to Annecy, a ridiculously colourful and charming town in the foothills of the French Alps. You could easily be mistaken for thinking you’re in Venice with its colourful buildings and canals, or in Lucerne or Lake Como with its brilliant lake and surrounding mountains. It’s Annecy’s location that makes for one magical setting, and you just know a Disney princess would happily live here.

Pastel buildings in Annecy old town, France
Pastel buildings in Annecy old town, France
Pastel buildings in Annecy old town, France

Annecy doesn’t have a long list of ‘things to do’. Instead it’s the perfect place for some aimless wandering, and with so many Instagram worthy opportunities around every cobblestone laneway and canal, it will keep you busy for at least a few hours. When you’re tired of looking at flower-lined canals, outdoor cafes and medieval buildings, go back to one of those gelateria’s you saw on the last 5 corners.

Meringues in Annecy cake shop, FrancePastel buildings in Annecy old town, France

The Prison

The most recognizable and photographed landmark in Annecy is the Palais de l’Île. You’d be forgiven for thinking it’s a small, unimpressive castle, but in fact it’s had a varied history, being used as a mint, courthouse and prison over the years. Even the old prison is picturesque in this town. Nowadays it’s used as a local museum, which isn’t nearly as exciting.

Palais de l’Île, AnnecyPastel buildings in Annecy old town, France

Lace Annecy

Once you’ve finished getting lost in the old town, the next thing to do is spend the rest of the day relaxing by one of the lakeside parks or beaches. The water in Lake Annecy is incredibly clear, which is quite fitting given that it’s supposedly the cleanest lake in Europe with the water coming from melted snow in the nearby Alps. I recommend making use of the fantastic cycling and walking tracks or hiring a pedal boat and cruising the lake.

Pastel buildings in Annecy old town, France
Lake Annecy pedal boats, France
Lake Annecy pedal boats, France

Getting There

With Annecy only a 45-minute drive from Geneva airport, I used it as an overnight stop on my way to Lyon. It’s also a perfect stop if you’re traveling between Paris and the French Riviera.

I have Instagram to thank for my discovery of Annecy, and I’m sure tourism will dramatically increase over the next few years as more and more people learn about this colourful town through social media like I did. So do yourself a favour and put Annecy on your list next time you’re in France.

Pastel buildings in Annecy old town, France

What are your other favourite European fairytale towns?

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Leave a comment, they make me smile

  • Reply
    Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki
    February 12, 2016 at 9:07 pm

    This place is so beautiful! I love using Instagram for researching places to visit.

    • Reply
      One World Just Go
      February 13, 2016 at 4:03 pm

      Me too Kaelene! Who needs Lonely Planet when you have Instagram 😉

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