The six guiding principles for the exemplary traveler
Exploring every aspect of a destination, getting a taste for all it has to offer, and learning about obscure details are all part of experiencing an area to its fullest when traveling! While on your way to enjoying a fantastic time, respecting certain local ways of doing things plays an important part of any trip…
To truly experience daily life at a destination, immerse yourself in the local state of mind and respect local know-how. Being in Annecy, whether traveling or not, means understanding the social and civic fundamentals that characterize the area, the art of living that forms its core identity.
The traveler’s pact, “Being in Annecy,” condenses the area’s philosophy into six guiding principles for sustainable tourism, instructions for how to blend into a destination that pays careful attention to preserving the lake and the surrounding natural environment.
Since spending quality time in Annecy means learning every aspect about the town, the surrounding area, and locals, we decided to provide you with all that you need to know and then some. Just follow our lead.
Use nature as your guide
The natural environment is Lake Annecy’s primary asset. Wherever you venture, nature plays the lead role and deserves the utmost respect.
There’s water: the lake, considered one of the purest in Europe, with sections of protected shoreline, reed beds where several species of flora and fauna thrive, the Thiou River winding through Old Town, the Fier River Gorge… And the mountains and forests, which provide breathtaking vistas and a multitude of incredible walks and hikes to enjoy, from strenuous adventures to family hikes and more pensive outings.
© Françoise Cavazzana
Best practice: #preserve the natural environment
This might seem like a rather obvious point to make, yet… Stopping for a picnic lunch means taking a few necessary precautions to leave the area as you found it: locate an appropriate spot, making sure that you don’t crush any wild flowers or disturb the local wildlife. Don’t forget that littering always wreaks havoc, especially for the natural environment. Bring a garbage bag with you to clean up after a picnic or any other gathering that involves food or drinks. Even peels and rinds, supposedly biodegradable, take more than six months to disappear.
Best practice: #prepare for a hike ahead of time
As fun as hiking in the mountains can be, it also requires paying careful attention and planning ahead, especially with regard to such important factors as the weather (check the forecast ahead of time), route, vertical gain (or loss) involved, and time required to ensure that you are in proper physical condition to complete the outing. Wearing the right clothes and footwear (hiking boots or sturdy shoes) are important, as are bringing certain essentials with you (water, sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses, as well as a survival blanket and first aid kit). Make sure that your mobile phone is fully charged and that you pack a map of the area. If you decide to hike alone, let someone know where you are going.
For route ideas, download the free ViAnnecy application.
Be a part of history
Annecy and the surrounding area have earned official “Art and History” status. The city has a rich history and centuries-old architectural heritage. While strolling through Old Town, you will likely stumble upon a few medieval relics, such as the two main gates from the city’s former fortifications; Sainte-Claire Gate and Perrière Gate.
The castle, once a residence for the counts of Geneva, now serves as a museum, just like the Palais de l’Ile, also known as the “old prison”, now houses an architectural exposition and interpretive center. Among Annecy’s iconic buildings, both are registered as National Historic Monuments. The medieval town of Alby-sur-Chéran, located just down the road from the city by the lake, also figures among the required sights to see when immersing yourself in the area’s fascinating history.
© Monica Dalmasso
Best practice: #learn more about local heritage and history
Several guided visits, certified by the Ministry of Culture, offer the chance to learn as much as possible about the hidden treasures when exploring Annecy. Local tour guides have many secrets to reveal. Through visits to renowned locations in the area, churches, or stories about major historical figures, just follow the guides; there is no better way to explore Annecy’s mystique and mysteries.
The City Game option offers a fun alternative to learning about local history, and a great way to visit older buildings and the hidden nooks and crannies at your own pace.
There are several ways to move around Annecy without having to use your car. The bus is a great alternative, from regularly scheduled lines to those specifically operating to allow visitors to explore the area’s many sights to see.
Operated by the Compagnie des Bateaux, ride the “Navibus” ferry boat clockwise around Lake Annecy. It stops at the shoreline’s port towns. Service begins mid June.
A network of dedicated bike paths offers visitors (and locals) the opportunity to safely move around by bike or on foot. The Greater Annecy Area now counts more 132 kilometers of bike paths and lanes and has a fleet of electric bikes to rent through one of the many Vélonecy stations around the lake. Cycling is a great active and stress-free way to make the trip to town or to access one of the many beaches.
The “Mobil’été” (summer mobility) and “Mobil’hiver” (winter mobility) programs provide additional support to sustainable transportation alternatives during the high season so that visitors and locals have the option of leaving their cars at home.
© SIBRA – Delphine Castel
Best practice: #travel by bike
132 km of bike paths and lanes, more than 3500 bike rack spaces to lock up your bike, and more opportunities every year for cyclists to safely move around the area. Riding a bike is clearly the most sustainable form of transportation. Head to the Tourism Office to pick up a map of the area’s bike lanes and paths. There are 24 designated and marked itineraries, and if you have the time, energy, and inclination, ride the 42 km all the way around the lake!
For those who need to, there are many locations around the lake where you can rent a bike. For getting around town on a daily basis (commute, errands, etc.), Vélonecy has a fleet of 900 bikes to rent for trips that last less than 60 minutes. Cargo, folding, two-person, electric… you choose!
We have the information you need
A variety of tools are available for you plan your trip ahead of time or even find the exact information you need once you arrive. The website lac-annecy.com is a goldmine of information and allows you to reserve your accommodations, activities, and even purchase tickets for shows that you would like to see. In Annecy, our trip advisors can provide you with information and advice to customize your stay.
Download the ViAnnecy application, a great real-time guidebook for hikes in the area.
Also, remember to ask for the address book to local adventures and escapades. Whether gourmet, festive, athletic, or simply good old-fashioned fun, with the myriad of options available this guidebook will never leave your side. And for photos of the best places to venture, watch replays of our Facebook Live sessions – more than enough information to provide you with a whole host of ideas.
© Gilles Piel
Best practice: #plan for your trip
Before you travel to Annecy, determine the places that you would like to see or tour, or one of the many events you don’t want to miss. The website’s marketplace and the option of reserving activities ahead of time are great ways to make life simple and easy once you arrive.
Practical Tip: to avoid any potential frustration, check ahead of time on parking availability, locations, and rates, and choose your mode of transportation accordingly. There are several alternative, stress-free, cost-effective, and fun ways to get around the area instead of taking your car!
You like to go against the grain
Choosing Annecy as your travel destination was not simply by chance. The exceptional natural landscape serves as the foundation for the city’s identity, charm, and outlook. Respect for the environment, taking the time to take your time, sustainable modes of transportation around the city and lake, we have covered the many different ways to experience the area on its terms.
In addition to the lake, several rivers and ponds offer the chance to cool off in the water. The banks of the Fier River and its steep-walled gorge, the Chéran River, the pearl of the Bauges Mountains, and the ponds in Rumilly and La Balme-de-Sillingy represent just a few of the many places off Annecy’s hustling and busting beaten path where you can swim, walk, or even go fishing.
© Lac Annecy Tourisme
Visiting Annecy and the lake in the off-season is also an option if you want take advantage of everything the area has to offer in a quieter atmosphere. As with the high season, choosing to stroll through Old Town early in the morning or waiting until the sun starts to set to admire the lake’s beauty represent just a couple of the many ways to experience the area at a different pace. And don’t forget to walk along all the roads less traveled: the quaint villages in the Albanais countryside include several beautiful hidden gems to explore that most visitors to the area never have the chance to see.
Best practice: #be safe when playing and #respect the wide variety of activities
Depending on the time of year, swimming in a mountain stream or river can be (very) dangerous. In the event of heavy rains or a considerable rise in water levels, it is best avoid, for example, even just dipping your feet in the eddies of the Fier and Chéran rivers.
In the rivers and ponds, respect all user groups, and make the effort to preserve the calm tranquility when others, for example, are out fishing, or during the season when local bird species are nesting. This applies to ponds like the one in Rumilly, a designated LPO (Bird Protection League) area.
They are locals
Our last guideline in this traveler’s pact: favor local growers and artisans. Annecy and the surrounding area have a distinct culinary identity, including several Michelin-starred restaurants. The area’s farmers markets offer a wide variety of locally grown and produced foods, especially cheeses.
The latter is considered integral to the area’s identity. The local AOP (Protected Designated Origin) certified cheeses are Reblochon, chevrotin, tome des Bauges, and Abondance, all served at restaurants in Annecy and found in most everyone’s picnic basket on any given day.
The fish in the lake, the mountain plants and honeys, the mushrooms gathered in the surrounding forests and prairies offer so many incredible tastes that you can happily enjoy at the area’s outdoor markets and restaurants.
Another local delicacy, this time sweet, are the reed bed inspired “Roseaux du lac” chocolates with a mountain liqueur center.
Pottery, grogs, “parets” (single-ski wood sit-sleds), and other artisanal objects crafted in the area will allow you to take a piece of the mountains with you.
© Françoise Cavazzana
Best practice: #buy local
The best way to meet local producers is to spend time at the weekly farmers markets in the towns and villages throughout the area, often places that you may not have otherwise taken the time to visit.
- © Chloé Gaona
Journalist: Gaëlle Tagliabue
Translation: Darin Reisman