Travel Minutes: Annecy, France – Gem of the Alps

The perfect place to rest your legs and warm your heart during an Alps snowboarding trip.

Sunset, Mont Blanc

Sunset, Mont Blanc

This past January, I embarked on a solo snowboarding trip to France. First, I hit the slopes at Val Thorens, which is the largest linked ski resort in the world. In fact, you can ski and snowboard over three valleys across five towns. I was riding a minimum of 60 miles a day! For me that was a lot, considering the longest run on my local mountain, Mt. Hood, is fewer than three miles.

After Val Thorens, I went to Chamonix to continue riding the epic French slopes of Mont Blanc.

In between Val Thorens and Chamonix, I was grateful I booked an Airbnb in a small town located in the Alps on a lake, Annecy. Needless to say, my legs were activated after Val Thorens, and Annecy provided the perfect spot for some rest and relaxation before continuing on to Chamonix.

70 degrees, Lac d'Annecy

70 degrees, Lac d’Annecy

The funny thing was I was urged by a friend to skip Annecy. I remember him saying there wasn’t much to do and it was a sleepy little town. This was a misguidance, and I was so pleased I had done enough Instagram research to know Annecy is a photographer’s haven.

Photographer, Lac d'Annecy

Photographer, Lac d’Annecy

Annecy turned out to be one of the most picturesque serene places I have ever visited. What makes it so picturesque? A cobblestone old town, a canal waterway system resembling Venice, the third largest lake in France flanked by alps, pastel colored houses and a castle.  

Annecy, France

Annecy, France

I spent two nights in Annecy and my indulgent days consisted of eating French pastries, croissants and crepes, drinking tea, and walking around the lake and canals photographing the area – repeat. Don’t judge – my caloric intake did not outweigh the amount burned in Val Thorens and Chamonix. I deserved this!

There are some tourist sites in Annecy but I was entirely overwhelmed with the natural setting and beautiful weather that I skipped all of them.

Sailboats, Lac d'Annecy

Sailboats, Lac d’Annecy

Annecy completely stole my heart and I can see why it’s dubbed “The Pearl of the Alps.”  

Swan heart, Lac d'Annecy

Swan heart, Lac d’Annecy

I recommend adding this stop in Southeastern France on your itinerary if you are visiting the Alps in winter or summer. Whether you are boating or simply taking in the scenery, it was undeniably one of the best stops on my French Alps trip.

Thiou River Canal, Annecy

Thiou River Canal, Annecy

Annecy Accessibility and Helpful Travel Tips:

Budget Airport Transfer

Annecy is only 27 miles from the Geneva airport. From the Geneva airport you have a few options as laid out on the Rome 2 Rio transportation site. While in France, I used Rome 2 Rio as a transport resource and was never disappointed. I recommend taking a bus for as little as $15. Although it will likely make a few stops on the way, the buses are comfortable and well-organized.

Budget Inter-Country Transportation

Guess what? Hitchhiking just became safe and reliable! There is an app I would recommend to solo or budget travelers while in France. Yes, even solo women! It’s called BlaBlaCar. It is a rideshare app that provides a very cost-effective alternative to taxis. BlaBlaCar can best be described as a central live database connecting people who need a ride with drivers that are making a journey and would like some extra gas money. Basically, it’s a very organized and disciplined hitchhiking digital platform. Similar to Airbnb, every driver and rider have a profile on the app. You sign up for a journey and meet in a public place to be picked up. There is no money exchanged physically. Instead, a bank transfer is made after the journey is complete. I downloaded BlaBlaCar on my iPhone and used it to make multiple journeys while acquiring friends along the way. Ladies – they have even added a “ladies-only” feature to increase your presumed level of safety.

100 Percent Tip: If snowboarding in France, bring your own snowboard, boots and bindings. Although the rental shops have a vast selection of high-performing skis, the same cannot be said for snowboard rentals.

 For further tips on planning a ski/snowboard trip in the Alps or visiting Annecy, email

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