Fun and relaxation at Lake Annecy

Lake Annecy, called Lac d’Annecy by the French, is perhaps the most beautiful lake in France. Not only because of the clarity and purity of the water, but also because of the vast array of options for having fun and kicking back. I’ve found a few activities you really shouldn’t miss!

Cycling around the lake

You’re in control of the intensity level on this bike tour. Although the Alpine area is obviously known primarily for its steep climbs, you can make your way around Lake Annecy just fine on more level ground, too. Follow the Promenade cyclable de lac d’Annecy. This bike path actually leads you all the way around the lake. The west side of the route is almost completely flat, on the east side you’ll come across a small climb, but it’s definitely doable. In total, the 36-kilometre long round trip comprises just 300 metres in altitude gains.

There are both steep and flat cycling routes to choose from around Lake Annecy.

Climbing in the mountains

For a completely different cycling experience, all you need to do is take a detour off the cycle path around the lake. Two tough climbs I can recommend to the experienced cyclist are the Semnoz and the Col de la Forclaz. The Semnoz is a 16-kilometre climb with an average increase rate of 7.5%. The steepest grade inclines at almost 11%. The beginning of the climb, the Col de Leschaux, is still reasonably easy, but towards the top it gets steep and stays steep. You’ll climb to a height of 1,200 metres, so the view of the top of the mountain is definitely worth it, as long as the clouds don’t get in your way, of course.

The Col de la Forclaz is also steep. The climb is relatively short, about eight kilometres, but very irregular and steep. The average rate of increase is 8%, but this is mainly due to the flat section between kilometres five and a half and seven. On the other sections, you have to contend with percentages of no less than 15%. This makes the climb feel more intense than the Semnoz. The Col de la Forclaz  is also super steep right from the start, and the final kilometre to the top will ask a lot of your legs. But the view across Lake Annecy makes up for all the effort.

Picnicking in the Alpine meadows

Picnicking in the alpine meadows is certainly far less strenuous than climbing up them on the bike. You can put on your walking shoes and go on a mountain hiking trip to look for your picnic location, but of course you can also grab the car and find a suitable spot. For the most beautiful spots, head to the Les Bauges nature reserve, where you can enjoy the impressive limestone cliffs and beautiful mountain and meadow landscapes.
This could be your picnic view across Lake Annecy.

Take a walk to the Cascade de Piscieux between Les Aillons and Lescheraines and don’t forget to pay a visit to a cheese maker, like Val d’Aillon or a Reblochon cheese dairy. Another excellent hike follows the Tannes et Glacières. This path leads you to the Glacières du Margériaz, caves that farmers once used to collect snow and press it into ice blocks. After the winter, large blocks of ice were cut down, packed in straw and transported by donkey to Aix-les-Bains, which is how the wealthy always had ice cubes in their drinks …

Combined events on the water

A steep cycle or mountain hike not challenging enough for you? Then create your own combined event with activities in and around the water. Sporting opportunities around Lake Annecy are almost endless. Let’s start with the lake itself. It’s ideal for wakeboarding, wake surfing, kite surfing, sailing, and catamaran sailing. You may find that it’s a bit crowded in the middle of the day, so try to go out in the morning or in the last hour before sunset. You can also just rent a boat and enjoy the surroundings without expending too much effort on the water.

Looking to get a bit more extreme? The mountains around the lake are a popular jump-off point for paragliders. A good example is the summit of the Col de la Forclaz, near Doussard. You’ll glide along with your instructor, soaring over the vast lake. Right next to Doussard is Lathuile, a popular canyoning spot. After all that hard work, you can kick back and relax on the beach, because that’s what holidays are all about. On Lake Annecy you will find eleven different beaches where you can roll out your towel and soak up the sun.

Camping at Lake Annecy

As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to visit beautiful Lake Annecy. What’s yours? Is it getting into nature and enjoying outdoor activities? Or are there other reasons I haven’t mentioned yet? Let me know!

Bram Kuhnen
  • Author: Bram Kuhnen
  • European cities, touristy beaches and impressive landscapes and countryside. Travelling through Europe, Bram has already visited many places, and he likes to write about his experiences and share tips.

    1 Comment

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    I love the variety of mountains and flat along the lakeside.

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