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‘’Now I have been happy. Now I have lived.’’ 18th century French philosopher and writer Jean Jacques Rousseau on seeing Lake Annecy. If there was a contest for France’s most beautiful city, I’m pretty sure Annecy would be at the top of the list. Its charms are, quite simply, irresistible. At the heart of it is a crystal clear lake, and, surrounded by majestic mountains, you’re never far from nature here. Winding canals cross its historic cobbled streets and flow under picturesque bridges, past ancient churches and ancient buildings. There are beautiful beaches French riviera style, activities galore, fabulous restaurants and great museums. Annecy’s old town Annecy is used to having superlatives thrown at it “one of the most beautiful towns in France” – tick. “One of most floral cities in France” – tick. European capital of outdoor sports – tick. The light in Annecy is like nowhere else, it has a purity that I’ve never seen anywhere before. The city is quite ridiculously photogenic and there are sites galore to make you sigh. Canals, bridges and little cobbled streets. Terraced cafes, beautiful old buildings and a medieval castle. Les Jardins de l’Europe, an elegant park on the edge of the lake. And of course the famous Palais d’Île, a former prison and probably the most iconic site in the city. And all this with a backdrop of snow peaked mountains.
What not to miss in Annecy This is a city that’s made for flaneurs – that French word which has no real equivalent in English but is often translated as to wander. It means so much more. It means to wander in a leisurely way, to soak up the ambiance, to see the sights – Annecy is a flaneur’s dream town. And, it is the best way to get to know this place, simply wander, get lost in its flower-filled streets, take a break at a café, enjoy a leisurely lunch, walk some more, stop for aperitifs, walk some more, relax over dinner and fall in love with this pretty city. Get up early to see the Pont d’Amour at its best. There is a myth that says that if two lovers kiss on the bridge, they will stay together forever. That aside, you have the most beautiful views over the lake and into the city as the water flows gently under the bridge. Watch the sun come up and light up the water, it’s rays spiking over the tree lined quays, stroking the rooftops of the city and through the stained glass windows of the 14th century church of Saint-Maurice, the oldest in Annecy. You can’t miss the 12th century Palais de L’Île in the middle of the Thiou Canal which has recently undergone a restoration. It is now an interesting museum you can visit to discover its history as a fort, prison, school… Climb a small mountain to reach the medieval Château d’Annecy, now a museum and exhibition venue. There are marvellous views over the town from the castle ramparts.
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