Picnicking around Lake Annecy has never tasted so good
If there ever was a type of meal that goes with summer, it’s a picnic! Whether on a hike, walk, leisurely excursion, or any other well-deserved break, a picnic offers the perfect opportunity to enjoy a leisurely meal outdoors.
It simply goes without saying that picnicking is a worthy option on any sunny summer day, and the more you picnic, the more you might as well eat in style. Set your sights on the vistas and must-visit places in the area.
Here are a few highly-recommended suggestions of where to bring your blanket and basket for an unforgettable picnic around Lake Annecy. And we promise that there’s something for everyone.
Mt. Veyrier/Mt. Baron for the active picnicker
For the first spot, we recommend that you plan for an early (or even very early) start to truly appreciate this amazing hike. While technically easy, it does ascend 900 vertical meters and you will likely cross paths with more trail runners than you can count!
Any active visitor or local will love this excursion. Make sure that you wear appropriate, sturdy shoes, a hat, and bring all the other necessary gear for this hike that takes you high above the lake. But first, remember to prepare the perfect picnic. To keep it light, we recommend that you stop in the morning or the night before at bakery Pan & Gatô.
© Gilles Piel / View on Mt. Veyrier/Mt. Baron
Salivate at the breads, cakes, salads, sandwiches, quiches, and so many other delicious choices made with the greatest skill and care imaginable. Enjoy one of their original beet wraps or a classic ham-butter-pickle sandwich. The latter is made with Maison Marc pickles, Vexin French mustard, Maison Baud ham, and Bresse butter, and each one of these ingredients contributes to the unique flavor. And for dessert (there’s always room for dessert, right?), take your pick among the, vanilla, pecan, lemon, and chocolate-vanilla cakes, the scrumptious-looking cookies, or the venerable Savoie Cake, all so eye-catching and mouth watering!
Now, ready for your hike, head to the “Petit Port” (small port) on Chavoires Avenue in Annecy-le-Vieux. The hike starts on a stone-covered path that takes a steep beeline straight into the forest. Follow the signs to Pré Vernet and then Mont-Veyrier. After stopping once or twice (or even three times) to enjoy the scenery, once on the official summit of Mt. Veyrier marvel at the breathtaking views of Lake Annecy, whose northern end looks as much like a blue lagoon as anywhere in the Alps. Sublime to say the least!
Either on top of Mt. Veyrier, or just a few minutes further along the ridgeline to the top of Mt. Baron, located at almost the same elevation, gaze at the surrounding landscapes, and enjoy the view straight down to the lake. Both are ideal spots to take off your backpack and open your picnic basket.
Return to your starting point the same way you came up. Once back down, take a well-earned dip in the lake to cool off, you’ve earned it.
- Tip: start early in the morning to take advantage of the cooler temperatures.
A picnic for your thoughts at Col de la Forclaz Pass
Easy to plan at the last minute, a picnic at Col de la Forclaz Pass is more than worth its weight in gold, especially in the evening for the fantastic sunsets.
Getting there is easy. Drive along the lake towards Talloires and then head towards Col de la Forclaz Pass where you can park your car. To enjoy the views from a bit higher up, walk for fifteen or so minutes on a well marked trail to the paragliding takeoff area which offers an incredibly amazing view of Lake Annecy. As the sun begins to set, the view becomes even more spectacular.
© Philippe Royer / Sunset from La Forclaz
For a truly out-of-this-world experience, order a picnic meal from none other than legendary chef Jean Sulpice! A thought-provoking picnic for sure, as well as gourmet like no other! Place your order online by 18:00 (6pm) the night before your excursion.
The award-winning chef makes picnic meals that include a sandwich, a salad made with seasonal vegetables and fruit, the pastry of the day, and a bottle of water. You can also order just a sandwich. Choose from taramasalata made with vendace (fish) eggs and cucumbers, beef tenderloin with an arugula pesto, or fowl with an herb spread.
Everything you need to experience a truly wonderful evening!
- Tip: schedule your trip around sunset.
© Franck Juery / Picnic by Auberge du Père Bise – Jean Sulpice
A pastoral picnic on Mt. Semnoz
Cross the lake to the west shore, and head to the top of Mt. Semnoz. The incredibly beautiful, wide-open summit plateau is easily accessible by car or by taking one of the summer’s free bus lines.
Before heading to higher elevations, stop at the Crèmerie des Marchés cheese shop in the Pommaries neighborhood in Annecy-le-Vieux. The shop offers a variety of mouth-watering cheeses as well as salt-cured meats and other tasty specialties such as pickled vegetables and vegetable spreads from “Conserverie des Alpes,” many choices to make the ideal picnic meal. You can order online beforehand and pick up your picnic basket or ask the shop to deliver it the night before your outing.
© Gilles Piel / Panorama from Mt. Semnoz
The 1700m summit offers one of the most spectacular places in the area to picnic, with a 360° view of the surrounding mountains and valleys, including the peaks looming high above Lake Annecy – Parmelan, Dents de Lanfon, Tournette – as well as the Aravis Mountains, the Mt. Blanc Range, and the rest of the Bauges Mountains. On the clearest of days, you can see the Vanoise and Ecrins ranges far off in the distance. The panoramic interpretive sign at the top of Mt. Semnoz (referred to as “Crêt de Chatillon”) provides a detailed explanation of the surrounding environment.
Among the alpine pastures, you should have no trouble finding a great spot to picnic. And if you still need a slice of cheese or two (or three) for your adventure, the farms located on the summit plateau of Mt. Semnoz welcome visitors and would be happy to teach you about their profession and how they make their cheeses. Ask for Emilie at Combe des Villards pastures / GAEC Les Noisetiers, she knows the secrets to making Abondance cheese, but may not reveal all of them.
- Tip: hop on one of the summer bus shuttles and explore the Mt. Semnoz summit plateau on a mountain bike (Line S4).
A refreshing picnic along the Fier River
Whether along the Fier River Plain on your way to the Aravis Mountains, below Argonay, or in the Fier River Gorge (one of the must-visit places in the area), the Fier River offers a myriad of places to picnic and enjoy the river’s refreshing environment.
Today’s adventure takes us to the Fier River Plain (“Plaine du Fier”), but before reaching our final destination, let’s stop at the Fournil de Mon Père bakery on Route de Thônes road in Annecy-le-Vieux. This family-owned bakery, founded in 1944, makes outstanding artisanal breads and regional pastries. We highly recommend the White Pearl sandwich (voted the best sandwich in France in 2016) made with local ham, honey, fresh goat cheese, and fig preserves. Just like the “Rose des Aravis,” a savory puff pastry made with local ham, sautéed onions, Abondance cheese béchamel sauce, and walnuts. Are you hungry yet?
© OT Thônes / Mountain bike outing in the Plaine du Fier
Now we’re off toward the mountains to explore the Fier River Plain, a sensitive natural area that extends from the town of Alex to La Balme-de-Thuy by way of Dingy-St-Clair. Enjoy the well-constructed, marked trails along the Fier River on foot, on a bike, and even on horseback! Families with strollers can also enjoy an excursion with ease.
Either one of the 14km long or 10km long excursions offer the opportunity to explore the diverse natural environment along the river’s edge and to find the perfect place to picnic. From footbridges to small secluded beaches, take full advantage of the peace and quiet for a truly relaxing picnic experience.
Once you find the ideal spot, if you’re game, cool off by taking quick dip in the river before you eat.
- Tip: a wilder adventure along the Chéran River. The 2.5-hour walk starts at Pont de l’Abîme Bridge. Picnic along the river.
- © Philippe Royer
Journalist : Gaëlle Tagliabue
Translation: Darin Reisman