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Nov 2019 - Annecy: The Pearl of the Alps

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

350km from Avignon, Annecy is a fairly small city on a 35km long lake about 35km south of Geneva. It's called the Pearl of the Alps so that's two pearls (Menton the other) we visited in a few weeks. It's also called Venice of the Alps.

Lake Annecy - the cleanest in Europe

It can't be hard to like a place with such nicknames and it wasn't. The weather was certainly getting colder (5-8c days) but it is here that we discovered the first of many Christmas Markets and Gluhwein (mulled wine). Nothing like a steaming hot Gluhwein to warm the soul.

Annecy Christmas Market choices
Some type of cheese and potato dish in the vat

Another well located, well appointed Airbnb on the 6th floor of an apartment complex. The elevator had a max capacity of 2 people. Oh, another thing about every single Airbnb place, they're all decked out with IKEA furniture.

Anyway, Annecy was a beautiful town with quaint old quarters along canals and a castle perched up on a hill above town. It is very reminiscent of Colmar and has a real Alpine / Swiss / wealthy person vibe. The lake it sits on is stunning with absolutely crystal clear water reflecting the Alps including Mont Blanc. It's the cleanest lake in Europe.

Medieval canal housing in Annecy
Medieval Annecy
Charming Annecy
Cafe performance

Highlight here was not Annecy but driving to the Col des Aravis, a famous mountain pass often used in the Tour de France. It was warm enough to get there without snow chains and the views were just disgustingly good, up towering rock mountains and across valleys to Mont Blanc, Europe's highest mountain. We did a 'trek' (walk without proper gear) up to about 2,000m through a snowy path that provided plenty of frolicking and snow balls in the face. A day to remember that was.

Col des Aravis
Contrasts at Col des Aravis
The hike with no gear for it

And so the drive north continued... did I mention it was cooling down.... it was!

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