You'll find a self guided Annecy France walking tour the most attractive and cost efficient way to enjoy the sights of medieval Annecy. The best day to visit is on Market Days but be sure to arrive latest mid-morning as the stalls are packed up for the day by lunch time.
How Long Does It Take?
Allow 2 hours for a self guided walking tour, but it can take as long as you like while you drop in to enjoy a tasty bite in any one of the charming restaurants or just to have coffee sitting in the sun.
Get the pamphlet "Annecy Tour Walks" from the tourist office located at Centre Bonlieu directly opposite the tree fringed open parklands the Champ de Mars. The tourist office is a short walk from the Old Town or Vielle Ville
Of these four routes, the first two are my favorites:
Highlights of Annecy France Walking Routes
Old Annecy while it was built along waterways, it was protected by local Savoie Lord who had his base, the chateau or castle on a hill overlooking the town. This mean that while most of the old city is flat, along the canals, the walks will include some steep hill climbs.
This walk takes you from the start at the Tourist office through the charmingly restored medieval sections of the ancient city and ideally, you will have selected market day to visit. Even though you don't need anything from the stalls, it's fun to browse through and enjoy poking through the artisan cheeses and sausages. I bought some artisan nougat and it was the best ever!
Churches seem to feature in medieval cities, no doubt because they were made of stone and survived the centuries. Further Annecy during the time of the Reformation, sheltered fleeing Catholics and entire convents and monasteries were started up again here. While you may not be interested in churches, it is the walk through that I found interesting just to see the little wonky medieval shops still in use today, ducking under archways that makes one think people must've been tiny a thousand years ago.
Palais de I'lle
This building currently houses a museum and is located on a triangular patch in the middle of the Canal Thiou. Be sure to arrive early as it closes for lunch for about 2 hours. For centuries it was a prison and court house.
What I found interesting were the buildings lining the Thiou Canal built right into the waterway. This was how the old town looked before the quays or walkways abutting the buildings were built.
Explore on your Annecy France Walking Tour and see
medieval buildings built right into the canals.
From Quai de l' Eveche, take note of the original water gates.
Place Saint Claire
The Convent order of Poor Clares founded a cotton factory in 1804, at the start of the industrial revolution. Close by here are water gates that used to run the cotton factory's turbines. This building is now restored for modern use, but you'll notice in the front of the cotton factory, a small fountain with the emblem of a weaving shuttle.
Climb up along the town walls
Go along the path from the Cotton Factory up a steep slope, along the outside of the city walls and this leads to the Chateau on the hill. The views over Annecy are marvellous.
The Castle or Chateau
This large chateau in a walled compound at the top of the hill, was built by successive Counts of Geneva who occupied Annecy from the early 13th Century. It is now a museum.
Take time out to stroll in the gardens along the lake, Les Jardins de l'Europe. Summer is the most popular time to visit when most are outdoors enjoying the lakeside activities and being seen on pavement bistros. At July's Les Noctibules festival, there are evening street performers and fireworks at August's Fete du Lac.
Return journey via the Self Guided "Off The Beaten Track"
The return journey wanders through more interesting parts of the ancient city of Annecy France. What I found interesting, is that these buildings have been restored and made modern and habitable, whilst retaining their medieval heritage and architecture.
You'll find mysterious passageways, ancient guild symbols on buildings, ducking under low bridges, evidence of tow ways along the canals and funny little icons in niches.
An Annecy France Walking Tour is unbelievably charming on a sunny day.