Image Property of Alex Brown via Wikimedia Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Lake Annecy, France
For those of you who are not familiar with Annecy, it sits at the northern end of Lake Annecy, and is approximately 150 kilometers east of Lyon, France and 42.5 kilometers south of Geneva, Switzerland.
During research for our 2013 European Trip, we knew that we were going to drive from Carcassonne to Munich (1,175 kilometers) and that the amount of driving time was much more than we wanted to endure in a single day.
So we started looking at locales that would be good to break the trip into two drives, and we decided on Lake Annecy. In part because we found some interesting places to visit there, and in part because of it's proximity to Chamonix and Mont Blanc. Once we realized how beautiful the Lake Annecy area was, we decided to increase our overall timeline in Europe so that we could spend 5 days in Annecy.
From Carcassonne we got to Annecy around dinner time (560 kilometer drive), and once again, our Tom-Tom navigation device (an old school stand-alone navigation device that was popular before true mapping Applications became a reality on cellphones and laptops) that we had named "Suzette", was able to navigate us through city streets that would have been difficult without assistance. We were bound for the Annecy Adagio Centre, and given the number of one way streets and round-abouts, a Tom-Tom (or some type of mapping system) is a very necessary tool to have!
Lake Annecy Quick Facts / Where is it? Map
- Max length: 14.6 kilometers (9.1 miles)
- Max width: 3.2 kilometers (2.0 miles)
- Surface area: 27.59 square kilometers (10.65 square miles)
- Average depth: 41 meters (135 feet)
- Max depth: 82 meters (269 feet)
- Water volume: 1,124.5 million cubic metres (911,600 acre feet)
- Overview: It is the third largest lake in France, after the Lac du Bourget and Lac de Grand-Lieu, if the French part of Lake Geneva (which is shared between Switzerland and France) is excluded. It is known as "Europe's cleanest lake" because of strict environmental regulations introduced in the 1960s. It is a popular tourist destination known for its swimming and water sports.
- Miscellaneous: The lake was formed about 18,000 years ago, at the time the large alpine glaciers melted. It is fed by many small rivers from the surrounding mountains (Ire, Eau morte, Laudon, Bornette and Biolon), and from a powerful underwater source, the Boubioz, which enters at a depth of 82 meters.
Click here to go to the Lake Annecy Wikipedia Page from where the above information came from. Or you could click here to go to the Lake Annecy Tourism Page.
Getting to the Aparthotel Adagio Annecy Centre
Getting to Annecy was straight forward until we had to exit the French A-41, onto the D3508, then the D1501 and then right onto the Avenue des Hirondelles. At the big traffic circle, we then exited left onto Avenue de Bouvard which eventually brought us to our final traffic circle where we found Place Marie Curie on our right which included the Aparthotel Adagio Annecy Centre where we had reservations.
After we checked into the hotel, we found that they had underground parking below Place Marie Curie, which allowed us to keep the rental car in a safe area until we needed it.
Sounds a bit complicated doesn't it? By road, it is only 16 kilometers from the A-41 to the hotel, but with traffic circles and construction on the Avenue de Bouvard plus never having been to Annecy before, it did create a bit of tension. Without our Tom-Tom device as well as a paper map, we probably would have gotten lost!
Gorges du Fier
This was our first "day trip" from Annecy, and it was propelled by our trip research. This is an amazing gorge, with the River du Fier rushing through the rocks below. It is only 12.1 kilometers from Annecy, however, the route is all rural two lane roads that twist & turn frequently. Very pretty area, but impossible to transit at any speed - you should plan your drive accordingly.
Our route from our Annecy Hotel to the Gorges du Fier; Route de Chavaroche to Route de Bellville to Route de Chavaroche. As this route involves multiple round-a-bouts, it is suggested that your "navigator" have a map Application up & running!
The Fier gorges are a remarkable natural curiosity of France, a very deep and narrow gorge that can be visited through a gateway attached to the rock face, arranged in the middle of the 19th century. This gorge was cut by the mighty Fier torrent in the town of Lovagny, some 11 kilometers west of Annecy.
The catwalk is solidly attached to the rocky sides of the gorge, perhaps 50 feet above the river
below. There is barely enough room for a person to walk forward, with wider areas to allow
people to return to the starting point.
Click here to visit their website.
Le Thiou River
Look at these beautiful central Annecy scenes! Annecy has been called the "Venice of the Alps"; the winding cobblestone streets lined by pastel houses and bright flower boxes will make you fall in love with this small French town.
The Thiou River is considered to be the shortest river in France with its 3.5 km of length and
forming a maze of canals in Annecy, that contribute to the beauty of the "Venice of the Alps".
NOTE: Image # 1 is the property of Dmitry A. Mottl via Wiki, and image # 2 is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
The Gardens of Europe
After lunch, we had gone to the park to play some frisbee, and decided afterwards to hike around the park on the Quai Napoleon III. This image is from the north side of the park near the Pont des Amours.
Beyond the mountains on the eastern side of Lake Annecy, is the
Chamonix Valley area of France - which includes Mont Blanc.
NOTE: Image # 2 is the property of Florian Pépellin via Wikipedia. Image # 1 is the property of Just Traveling Thru, LLC.
Plage du Plant
Lake Annecy is surrounded by a number of small public beach/park areas, providing a nice place to go for a quick swim and a picnic at lunch time. The lake and the town were so scenic and interesting, everything exceeded our expectations.
The Lake Annecy water was so blue that I thought we were in the Caribbean. You can swim in the water from anywhere around the lake, as there are multiple beaches. I had never imagined such a place, it was beautiful and we were glad to have taken the time to explore here.
The above pictures were taken at Plage du plant as we drove down the eastern side of the lake on French Route D909A headed towards Chateau Menthon Saint-Bernard.
Palais de l'Isle
This is a 12th century castle on an island in the River Thiou in Annecy. It mostly served as a prison and courthouse until the French Revolution and was again used a prison during World War II. The Palais de l'Ile was classified as a Historical Monument in 1900, and today houses a local history museum.
The castle was built between the 12th and 16th centuries. It served as the residence of the Counts of
Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours. Several times the victim of fires, the castle was abandoned
in the 17th century and later repaired to serve as a barracks until 1947. The town of Annecy acquired
the castle in 1953, restored it with the help of Monuments historiques and installed a museum there.
Since 1993, the Tower and the Logis Perrière have housed an observatory (l'Observatoire régional des lacs alpins).
Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard
We took image # 1 (left side) while we were on the boat tour around the Lake, and as the boat
crew provided some amount of narration as to what we were seeing, this is how we found out
what this chateau was all about. The chateau buildings (center right of image #1) are all original, and were built between
the 13th and 19th centuries.
Click here to visit their website.
Image # 2 (right side) is the view you get as you drive up the hill to reach the Chateau parking lot, we
missed taking our own picture because we were busy navigating! You have to admit
that it is a stunning example of a Chateau.
NOTE: Image # 2 (right side) is the property of CMIvisavoy via Wikimedia.
Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard Quick History Lesson: The Château de Menthon is a medieval castle located in the commune of Menthon-Saint-Bernard, 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) south of Annecy in the Haute-Savoie department of France. Standing on a 200 metres (660 feet) tall rock, its stone towers loom over Lake Annecy, the Roc de Chère National Nature Reserve, and Menthon-Saint-Bernard. Since 1989, it has been listed as a monument historique by the French Ministry of Culture.
Bernard of Menthon (St Bernard), the patron saint of skiers, was born in this castle in the 11th century (1008). He later founded the hospice at the Great St. Bernard Pass Abbey in the high mountains. It is at that Abbey where the St. Bernard dog breed originates from.Click here to view the Wikipedia Page where the above information came from.
The next day after our Chamonix adventure, we decided to explore the area around Lake Annecy, specifically the areas on the east side of the Lake. We had discovered that the Lake Annecy boat tour would take us to an area that looked like it might be good for hiking.
One of the things we wanted to accomplish on the Lake Annecy boat tour, was to disembark
at the Talloires pier and trek up to the
Cascade d'Angon (Waterfalls of Angon). When we researched the hike, it seemed very doable at a distance of just under 3 kilometers and approximately 45 minutes from the Talloires pier - and - the images of the waterfall
Click here for a Map of the Area.
That first image displays what the trail was like; very rocky and a continously steep ascent. As one of our party did not have on good hiking shoes, plus it was very hot that day, we decided to come back down the trail (after getting to the halfway point) to reboard the boat tour at the Angon pier (3rd picture). The end result was that we got there "too quickly" (next boat wasn't due for 2.5 hours) and we were all hungry and since the Restaurant L'Aquarama was immediately next to the pier, we decided to have lunch there.
Lunch was very good, you might want to give this place a try if you are ever in this area of France.
As the boat tour progressed, it began to be clearer & clearer what a beautiful area Lake Annecy was! The first image above is Chateau de Duingt as the tour boat approached. Image 3 shows how everyone huddled out of the sun, because it was still a very hot day! And image 2 shows the tour boat slowing to tie up at the small village near Chateau de Duingt.
Boat Tour Headed back to Annecy
As the tour boat continued north back to Annecy, the views of the lake and shoreline
continued to inspire everyone onboard to take a lot of pictures!
When the tour boat stopped in the village of Duingt, we were able to see the Roc de Chère National Nature Reserve on the other side of the lake.
Drive to Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard
The next day after our water taxi tour of Lake Annecy, we drove back to visit the Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard because visitors are allowed. This image is looking down at Lake Annecy from the parking area of the chateau.
Train Overpass outside Chamonix
This bridge overpass, on the French A40 back to Annecy from
Chamonix, looks very Roman doesn't it? Its appearance was meant to look
that way. This particular bridge is for trains coming into Chamonix.
Click here for the Wiki page listing various Roman constructions. And just as an added point to ponder, the Romans invented concrete to solve the issue of building piers & docks that would endure longer even though the construction took place "in the water".
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