Two years ago when I visited Switzerland, I was debating between Colmar and Annecy, both of colorful French towns which are close to the Swiss border…….Colmar near Basel on the North while Annecy near Geneva on the South. After showing pictures of both to Jason and we could only choose one, we chose Colmar. Since our wonderful visit to Colmar, I always wanted to visit Annecy so I can compare the two. Well with my extended Italy vacation, I routed a loop up to France to visit Annecy then down to the French Riveria 🙂
The drive from Orta San Giulio to Annecy was 3 hours 45 minutes without crossing any Swiss borders but what I didn’t realize was the toll was expensive! I know tolls are generally more in France than Italy but didn’t expect it to be that much more! All our tolls in Italy was a few euros except for the long drive from San Marino which cost €21.50. The 3 hours 45 minutes drive, we crossed 4 toll booths totaled €79.40!!! The most shocking one was the Mont Blanc tunnel, that long tunnel cost €40.50! It has to be the most expensive tunnel we ever drove through. Luckily, we didn’t have to head back the same way!
We arrived Annecy at around noon and didn’t have any trouble finding parking in the parking lot right underneath our hotel – ibis Annecy Centre. Parking wasn’t as bad as Orta San Giulio at €12 from noon to the next day. We checked in but our room was not ready until another hour. Instead of waiting, I was starving so we have the hotel stored our luggage and we walked to have lunch. I was craving for Asian food so we picked a ramen restaurant – Yatta ! Ramen Annecy Seynod. It was a long 14 minutes walk 🙁
The little restaurant is quite busy and luckily we got a table outside with just little wait. The ramen selection is very limited so I go with the one that is fully cooked (due to my pregnancy) – ramen with turkey katsu (fried turkey). Why they choose turkey was beyond me, usually, Japanese restaurant has chicken katsu instead. The other selections are beef steak but not fully cooked and raw fish ramen so those are not an option for me.
My turkey katsu ramen, the turkey was very dry and no taste. The broth was okay, the portion was small so it wasn’t too filling.
Jason ordered the steak ramen of course; his broth tasted much better according to him. Each ramen was around €10 so it was inexpensive.
After lunch, we did grocery shopping at Intermarché Super, close to our hotel to stock up on water and milk. Fortunately, ultra-filtered milk that doesn’t require refrigeration until it is opened is very popular in Europe so it made it easy for us to stock up and transport on milk supply; we need to make sure our baby is getting her nutrient 😉 When we went to the water section, we saw big bottles (1.5 liters) of Evian water, the price marked on the shelf was €4.00. Jason thought it was the cost of a bottle, I looked closer and I said to him, that’s the price for one case which has 6 bottles of the 1.5 liters water!!! We were shocked as a 1-liter bottle of Evian water in the US cost more than $3….here less than $1 for a 1.5 liter! We, of course, grabbed a case!
On our walk back to the hotel, we came across a coin-operated, self-served laundromat right next to our hotel. That is super convenient!!!
Once we get back to the hotel, our room was ready. Our room was decent size in European standard but I totally forgot to take a photo since I couldn’t wait to explore Annecy. Our hotel is located on the riverbank at the entrance of the old town. Few steps out of the hotel, one street down, we saw why Annecy is nicknamed “The Venice of the Alps”. The many canals filled with crystal clear water from Lake Annecy and bridges were decorated with colorful flower pots.
The walls of the buildings were painted with pictures that added fun to the old town like this one with the little girl dreaming.
With the mountain as the backdrop, it looked like in a fairytale.
A little entrance with a classic movie like picture with a chair and a table…I wondered who sits there?
The picture-perfect setting with pastel-colored houses, bridges, crystal clear turquoise river, mountain as the backdrop, and those old town lamp posts. Annecy is as seen in pictures online, it’s real!
This one main street has a lot of postcard-perfect locations and we took photos at every single angle we possibly can walk to.
So beautiful isn’t it?
This wall has this girl holding this big blue bird:
Another girl holding a ship…lots of imagination here…
Even the church has those paintings/photos…I wondered if they are part of an art event.
Everything looked dreamy and well fitted into the fairytale theme except for this ugly looking display ball! I am not an artist but I do have some artistic sense being a photographer, this was a big distraction! I have no idea what it tried to convey, what do you think?
That totally ruined the view!!! My travel friend, Sokunna, visited Annecy end of May (less than two months ago), she said that ball wasn’t there! I showed her the picture and she agreed that it totally ruined this iconic photo spot – Le Palais de I’lle.
We went into the church, Église Saint-François de Sales, to check it out. The interior is simplistic which matches its outside white facade and the chandelier lamps added some elegance to it.
We continued to walk to the end of the street, crossed the traffic lights, and then reached the park, Jardins de l’Europe. There are lake cruises as well as rental boats there. The turquoise color of Lake Annecy looked very clear and pretty.
After a short walk in the garden, we headed back to the old town.
We navigated the other side of the canal and saw few people having pots of mussels. My hunger kicked in and we decided to have a pot of mussels as a snack. I should’ve known better that restaurants along the main tourist street are usually tourist traps…especially when a restaurant serving food all day long. The restaurant is called La Bastille and besides the excellent view, the food was a tourist trap. The views:
It cost €23 for the mussels with fries (€15) and the outrageous drinks – mineral water and “homemade lemonade” basically Sprite. I can’t wait to get to the French Riveria for fresh mussels!
After the quick bites, we continued exploring the other street – Rue Perriere and it has more shops and restaurants. The houses aren’t as colorful but still cute.
We couldn’t find any good souvenir shops that sell miniature cute houses 🙁
We completed the loop and back to the hotel: the exterior of Ibis Annecy Centre Vieille Ville, it doesn’t look like a hotel right?
We continued onto the other side of the old town – Rue Royale and Rue de la Poste. Jason made a quick stop at the Post Office to check out its collectible stamps; we got some but not Annecy specific.
This side of town is more like a downtown shopping center with many bigger chain stores. An up-side-down filled with plant pots display in front of the church, Our Lady of Annecy.
The church interior, sort of plain:
One of the shopping street:
We went into Monoprix, it has a grocery level as well as a level ranging from clothes to cosmetics to home goods. I was searching for a pillow and found a roll-shaped cushion that’s on sale. I started to have a tough time sleeping in a comfortable position that my legs became numb and woke me up in the middle of the night for the past two nights!!! Luckily, I was able to find the pillow in Annecy so that was a big help for the rest of the trip 🙂 There were a few things that I wasn’t expecting at all due to pregnancy and they came as a surprise yikes! Another was my pajama pant felt very tight and it was at a point of uncomfortable; it wasn’t like that at all when we left home (a week ago). I looked at the mirror and saw my baby bump suddenly popped out, OMG!!! I had to steal Jason’s gym shorts as sleeping pants LOL!
We did some shopping and Jason bought two very nice blue patterned shirts. He always finds good clothes in France!
Afterward, we took a break for dinner at Feuille de Lotus, a Chinese restaurant but also have some Thai selections. Jason ordered a pineapple fried rice, it served on a half-cut pineapple but very small portion. It tasted okay, not much “wok” taste.
I ordered a curry chicken and surprisingly it’s spicy, I wasn’t expecting the Thai level spiciness in a Chinese restaurant. Once again, a very small portion. We were craving for Asian food and the food did the job for now…..our dinner cost €37.30.
Restaurants in France serves slow as expected so luckily we went in early so we were able to catch the sunset. The sunset was at the direction on the back of Le Palais de I’lle so we quickly walked there as the location to wait for it. On the way, I snapped a few shots too.
No colorful sunset, I didn’t have a high expectation that it would be, so after that, we patiently waited for the lights to turn on and the blue hour. Annecy was still very busy, I assumed the day-trippers would’ve left by now.
Tons of people lined up for gelato…we didn’t join the line since it wasn’t that hot in Annecy that we wanted gelato.
The residential area outside the old town looked much quieter.
The ugly ball…
Finally, the blue hour! The lights made those pastel-colored buildings more vivid color at night. There were a lot of street performers so it was very loud but lively atmosphere.
The light shined on the picture/painting which made it more stand out than during daylight. It looked more fantasy-like isn’t it?
It is much quieter only two bridges down from Le Palais de I’lle.
We walked a loop and photographed all the spots we planned on the main canal street.
Then, we headed to the back street and here more people as there are a lot of restaurants and bars too.
We decided to head back to our hotel and took the last photo of the dreaming girl on the wall. She wasn’t lit up…aww!
Overall, I think Annecy is nice but not as pretty nor picturesque as Colmar. Colmar is bigger and has a lot more photo spots than Annecy. Colmar felt like not as touristy as Annecy probably due to Annecy being very close to Geneva that it’s a popular day-trip destination. Plus, Annecy is much smaller so tourists are jam-packed in the main area….one short street. I can say that if you have visited Colmar, Annecy will be underwhelming. Also, its nickname “The Venice of the Alps” is overly exaggerating if you have visited Venice; it’s one of our favorite destinations!