This is how you do the Chamonix Annecy day trip. The most efficient, that is, the fastest way of getting to Annecy is by the local bus that runs excursion trips, but...more on that below.
There's the train which runs daily and there's always a taxi service.
Truly, the most convenient way to get from Chamonix to Annecy is by bus as the trip takes only 1 hour 45 minutes and goes directly to Annecy. Compare this with the SNCF train service which takes about 2 hours 20 minutes and there is a change of trains.
The downside of the bus trip is the SAT bus operates this run infrequently. In the winter 2013/2014 season, the return excursion bus operates on Tuesdays on these dates:
Click here to check the SAT bus excursion details
The journey takes - 1 hour 45 minutes
Free time in Annecy - 5 hours
Cost for a return trip - 28 e (in 2014)
Pick up - Chamonix Gare/Train Station at 9 am
Return - Chamonxi Gare/ Train Station at 7.30pm
Click here for the out-of-town bus service by AltiBus, but it doesn't have a Chamonix Annecy run.
The SNCF train service is excellent, runs daily but there is a change of trains required at St Germain les Bains.
But, there is no need to pre-book or to book a seat. The ticket can be purchased when you're at Chamonix. Just go to the Le Gare - that's the main train station at Chamonix
Departure Times: 6 departures from 8.14 am
Departs from: Chamonix le Gare
Journey takes: 2 hours 20 minutes
Change trains at: St Gervais les Bains
Cost: 24 e
You'll find that it's like a commuter train full of school kids, young adults going to college, people going to work.
There is no direct train service as it is a special local train that operates in the Chamonix Valley. It plys the valley from Vallorcine at the Swiss border to St Germain les bains. It's here that you have to hop off to get onto the main SNCF train service that services provincial France.
There is always a private taxi service, which will cost about 150 e but of course, this depends on the number of people and the amount of baggage as well.
If you're not skiing at Chamonix or just want a little break from the ski vacation, Annecy is the place to visit. This medieval Savoyard city was once the seat of the local Savoyard princes and where Churchmen and Royalty fled to during the times of the Reformation. It's called the Little Venice of France as the ancient city is built along canals.
The medieval section has been restored beautifully with charming cobbled stone streets, market days showcasing artisan foods
like regional cheeses, sausages, pastries and the like. You'll see
Thiou castle, the local baron's stronghold, winding alleys running
alongside sun lit canals, restored medieval shops with charming wonky
doorways, loads of churches including the prison in the middle of the
lake now a museum.
You can wander the ancient city on a self guided walking tour at no cost or just enjoy lunch at a cafe overlooking the beautiful Lake.
Frankly, Annecy is lovely.