Amazing Day Trips to Take on Lake Annecy by Boat
Palace de Menthon features on many itineraries for boating on Lake Annecy | © Jayskyland Images / Alamy
Lake Annecy is a thriving hub of activity throughout the year. Thanks to strict environmental controls put in place over 60 years ago, the lake is one of the cleanest on the continent. Its mirror-flat water, combined with a stunning backdrop of the snow-glazed Tournette Mountain, compelled French artist Paul Cezanne to paint the lake in 1896. Today, the best way to take in the view and explore the quaint villages, eateries, and activity spots that dot the lake’s shoreline is by hiring a motorboat. Here we reveal some of the best places to look out for while cruising along its calm waters.
A good tip to remember when planning a boating tour of Lake Annecy is to head for the west side in the morning before the sun disappears behind the mountains. By that point, you won’t care as you’ll still be donning your hat and shades in the sunny cove of Talloires on the eastern shore. Keep an eye out for live music or open-air movie screenings, or sit outside on the jetty of the Bistro du Ponton and tuck into a helping of their moreish flame-grilled calamari.
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If the sight of chilled-out paddleboarders tempts you to swap your motorboat for an hour of SUP, head to the village of Angon, just south of Talloires. There you’ll find the Gliss’Cool company that not only rents stand-up paddleboards – for anywhere between half an hour to 90 minutes – but also offers paddle yoga classes every other morning. After working off some energy, dip into the lakeside Monte Medio bar for one of their delicious meat and cheese boards.
For a quick burst of adrenaline that won’t cost you a Euro, navigate towards the tiny jetty south of Balmette beach. Once you’ve dropped anchor, walk the road south for two minutes until you stumble upon a tree with rudimentary wooden planks affixed to its bark. This is to act as a ladder for those daring enough to grab the rope hanging from the adjacent tree. Then leap, swing, and see how far into the lake you can launch yourself. Don’t forget the obligatory Tarzan yell.
Pont des Amours
© Realy Easy Star / Toni Spagone / Alamy
If you’re in Annecy on a romantic break then plot a point for the Pont des Amours (Lovers Bridge), which you’ll find connecting the Jardins de L’Europe and the 17-acre (7ha) Paquier esplanade. With a nod to the overt gestures of love commonplace in Paris, couples are encouraged to kiss on the bridge. Some even leave padlocks behind as proof. If you’ve got unimpressed little ones in tow, you’ll find a merry-go-round located on the lush green lawns of Paquier to keep them entertained.
Jardins de L’Europe
After mooring your boat near the Pont des Amours (there are over 200 parking spots to choose from), cross the bridge into the Jardins de L’Europe for the ideal lakeside picnic spot. The classically-styled gardens feature fountains, statues, and tree-lined paths punctuated with wooden benches and there’s a gated children’s playground for little ones to enjoy. If you didn’t pack anything to eat, head for the Boulangerie Rouge, a bakery that is a five-minute walk away from the gardens served up fresh-from-the-oven treats.
You’ll find Annecy’s largest beach at the very north end of the lake, with plenty of spots to moor up at the small port near the pier. With public showers, toilets, and lifeguards on duty all summer, it’s a handy spot for families to enjoy a dip in the lake. What’s more, the grass beach makes it gentle underfoot, the shore depth is gradual, and floats are provided free of charge for visitors with reduced mobility.
Plage de L’Imperial
You’ll need to pay an entrance fee to the Imperial Palace to access its private beach, but in contrast with neighbouring Albigny beach, there are tons of extra features and facilities for a more comfortable sunbathing sojourn. You’ll get access to playgrounds, pools and diving boards, and there’s tennis to beach volleyball courts to keep you on your toes. To keep beachgoers’ energy levels up, there’s also a snack bar serving up refreshments.
Menthon Saint Bernard
If you want to visit the fortress that locals insist was Walt Disney’s inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle then you’ll need your walking shoes. It’ll take you around half an hour to walk from Menthon Saint Bernard’s port to the medieval Château de Menthon, but the views from up there are worth every step. The castle, which is open to tour, remains the home of the de Menthon family and highlights include a stunning library with more than 12,000 pre-Revolutionary books and an extravagant wood-carved four-poster bed in the Countess’ bed-chamber.
This small town is at the narrowest part of the lake on the west side, making it a great spot for taking photos of the picturesque eastern shore. There’s plenty to snap in Duingt itself, but the prime attraction is the château originally built in the 11th century that juts out from the shore. The grassy beach here is free to enter and it’s the only beach at Lake Annecy where dogs can roam free.