Annecy France is just a couple of hours by train from Chamonix Mont Blanc.
It is one of the loveliest French towns and deservedly earns it’s nickname “The Little Venice of France”.
This is a well preserved medieval town, built directly into canals, that is fed by Lake Annecy. It really is just like Venice, with charming buildings that rise straight up from the canals and lovely cobbled winding streets that wend their way through the ancient city.
Medieval Annecy - Built on Waterways
Things To Do
The first thing to do is visit the open air market before they pack up at lunch time. The markets are located on the cobbled ancient streets around the old city. If you head for the direction of the Palais de I’lle, you’ll be sure to come across the markets. They’re spread out over several streets in this area of the medieval city.
Annecy France Market Day
Annecy is wonderfully charming. The ancient buildings are built right on the canals with quays allowing pedestrian traffic over the water. You can’t help but be charmed by the lovely little arched stone bridges.
There is the ancient prison right bam smack in the middle of this beautiful setting and this is now converted into a museum. The historical buildings are all very well restored.
Market Day Annecy France
One thing to note – the museums close strictly at lunch time, so plan your walk around town so that you
• get to enjoy the markets,
• have lunch,
• a lovely self-guided walk around town,
• explore the parks by the lake,
• and you’ll be in time for the afternoon sessions of the museums,
• to get you back to the station in time for your return journey home.
A Potted History
There’s evidence of human occupation on the lakeside as far back as Neolithic times (4000 BC). Annecy was favoured by the Romans as it was on a major route from Rome into Gaul.
Its importance was heightened when it became an important administrative and judicial centre for the Savoys in the 1500’s.
In the Reformation in Geneva, the deposed bishop decided to settle in Annecy. The town grew in importance as it became an important Catholic refuge. The terms used in the official guide book describes it as “Annecy had become small Catholic citadel facing Protestant Geneva”. That must've been really something in those days.
The Poor Clares set up a thriving cotton and textile mill at Annecy. It’s still there at Place Sainte-Claire.
At the highest point in the old city is the Chateau. It now houses an art gallery, amongst other displays. This was built by the Counts of Geneva who lived here from the 1200’s and was annexed by the Savoys in the 16th Century.
Annecy, France: Self Guided Walks
The self guided walks are informative and clearly identifies ancient landmarks still evident around the buildings in town.
I found the most interesting walks in medieval Annecy were the
• walks of the Old Town and its Churches
• walk “Off the Beaten Path”
• walks around the Canals.
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