Annecy: The Venice of Savoie?
The old town of Annecy is often lazily referred to as the “Venice of the Savoie” but this is just a frivolous analogy — good enough to let you know that there’s a bridge or two. Yes, the river that cuts a flower-dressed vein through Annecy does conjure images of Venice, but it has its own personality. For a start it’s just so French — streets adorned with iron balconies and impeccably dressed tables, as well as morning baguette deliveries traversing arched bridges by bike. It’s meticulously well kept and the tri-weekly markets turn it into a bustling centre for Savoie locals and mark the town with an aroma of rustic saucisson and native cheeses Tomme and Reblochon de Savoie. But the comparison only falters further, because where Venice’s canals are blurred, impenetrable chasms of dark chartreuse water, Annecy’s are transparent, belonging to one of the cleanest rivers in Europe, and are home to ducks and swans but few boats. Following the river is an ideal way to explore Annecy, unlike the wondrous but nigh-on impossible to navigate maze of canals in Venice. It bends its way through the old town, passing pastel-hued houses covered with flower baskets, and small squares lined with quaint bars and rustic restaurants until it’s eventually split in two by the iconic Palais de l’île. Furthermore, where Venetian bridges might lead to broken palazzi, views of distant factories and gigantic cruise ships making their way through the lagoon, bridges in Annecy lookout to ancient mountains and heated terraces full of fondue pots. And with just a few clicks of a heel, one soon finds that all paths in Annecy lead to the heavenly mountain lake: Lac d'Annecy. In short, there is very little about Annecy that isn’t charming, disarming and beautiful... but it’s almost nothing like Venice.