|Driving Around Lake Annecy, France
|Large enough to be dramatic, and small enough to drive around in a few hours!
The town of Annecy is charming and has plenty to do, but it's also fun to get out of town for a bit. You can easily drive around the lake in about half a day, including stops. The lake is only about 20 kilometers (12 miles) long, and a complete circle of the lake is about 40 kilometers (25 miles).
Along the way you'll pass some small towns, some boat docks and sailing points, some châteaux, and lots of interesting views of the lake and the mountain.
We started down the east side of the lake, with our first stop at Veyrier-du-Lac. The Plage De La Brune has two small crescent-shaped beaches, and we were also entertained by several crew boats passing by.
The tiny town of Menthon-Saint-Bernard is dominated by the Château Menthon, on a hill overlooking the town and the lake. Guided visits are offered from May through September; check locally for specific times.
Fun fact: Saint-Bernard, said to have been born in the château in 1008, worked to help travelers safely cross the dangerous Alps. His name graced the dogs who rescued people lost in snow and storms while crossing the Alps (15th - 18th centuries).
Talloires is a larger town, and quite posh, with a number of three- and four-star hotels and some elegant restaurants. We enjoyed lunch at the small Café de la Place, on a winding street in the town. Talloires is also home to the Tufts University European Center.
The lake front of Talloires has a small sailing beach and a swimming beach, and places for kayaking and paddleboarding. Like many beaches in France, it is a shingle (pebble) beach. From the beach you can enjoy lovely views of the Château Duingt on the other side of the lake.
The town at the bottom of the lake is aptly called Bout-du-Lac. The Réserve Naturelle du Bout-du-Lac (nature reserve) near the town that is known for its beauty and wildlife.
As you head up the west side of the lake you'll come to the small town of Duingt, with its lakeside château. Although the château is private, you can get some nice pictures of it from the village. Duingt is at the narrowest point of the lake, and you will also enjoy nice views across the lake to Talloires.
Next town is the small Sevrier, best known for its church that sits on a rise by the water.
In addition to these spots, which are right on the lake, if you have the time you might also want to consider some excursions away from the lake, such as the Ermitage de St-Germain, a 19th century chapel and pilgrimage site overlooking Talloires; or the Col de la Forclaz, which offers wonderful views.
A more ambitious excursion would be to the Montagne de Semnoz, a popular hiking area with more wonderful views.
We enjoyed our drive around the lake, taking about five hours (including a leisurely lunch) to enjoy the different small towns and the various views. If you don't have a car or would rather not drive, then consider taking a one- or two-hour boat trip on the lake.