Since moving our family from Australia to Annecy 2 years ago, we’ve been lucky to have a lot of visitors coming to see us.
To make things easier, we started putting together a list of the best things to do and see and recently we decided to publish this here so that more people can access it. This is by no means complete and may not be accurate.
Things to do with Kids
In no particular order, these are a few of the things we like to do as a family – but they are not restricted just to families!!
Luge de Ete, Semnoz
This is great fun for an hour or so. You can combine it with a bit of a walk up around the mountain and maybe a crepe/waffle and coffee/hot chocolate. There is also some mini-karts there (but we haven’t tried them yet).
Gorges du Fier
This is a short drive away and it’s a lovely walk through a pretty amazing gorge. About a 1/2 day activity and not too strenuous.
Tree Surfing / Accrobranche, Thones
Another tree surfing place is up at Thones. This is great if you’ve got smaller kids (from 3 up), but it also has lots of big kids too.
Nice outdoor pool with lawns to relax on. Toddler pool with lots of interesting things plus 3 other pools.
Col de la Forclaz
A drive here gets you some great views over the lake. On a good day, you can also watch the parapentes or hang-gliders take off. You could combine this with a dinner at the Pre Verel refuge (see restaurants), or get some crepes or waffles at one of the chalets here.
Col des Aravis
A drive to Col des Aravis is also great. On a clear day, there are good views of Mont Blanc from here and the cutest little church. You can also go for a short (or long) walk, and have crepes or lunch in a little restaurant. (It’s also a classic climb of the Tour de France.) Another nice spot to take a picnic (but bring an extra layer).
This park has a different theme for each time of year. We’ve been at Christmastime and it was excellent (although probably only for kids up to 6 or so). The scarecrow theme looks fantastic. It’s about a 30min drive from Annecy.
One of our favourite things to do is to spend an afternoon at one of the lake beaches. Most have a small cafe and toilet facilities. Some also have playgrounds, toddler pools, pontoons, diving boards, etc. Be aware that some of the beaches charge a small fee for entry.
Our favourite beaches are;
- Veyrier (Plage de la Brune)
There are lots of great little playgrounds around Annecy. Some of our favorites were; the ones on each side of the Pont d’Amour, in front of the Imperial Hotel (there’s also a huge aviary here with lots of birds), and the one on Rue Royale (up a few steps). Most of these are fenced in with plenty of shade.
There’s also the carousel on the Paquier which small kids love.
Plus, kids usually like exploring the canals around town. Fountains and statues are great to climb on and there’s often a few buskers to add to the fun.
Rock-Climbing – Site d’escalade Angon
There’s a great little climbing area for kids and learners here. You need your own gear and know-how though. A good spot to have a picnic too (and can combine with a short walk to the waterfall, Cascade d’Angon).
Waterfall Walk – Cascade d’Angon
This is a short and very interesting walk – so great to do with kids. You can make it longer by starting near Talloires, or start from the climbing area. If it’s wet, it can be very slippery though.
This is an indoor/outdoor swimming pool complex with water slides etc. It’s near Geneva (but still in France), so about 30 mins drive. A great activity if the weather is bad. There’s plenty to do for toddlers and big kids love it too.
Route 74 Parc de Loisirs
This is a great little place that we’ve recently discovered. It’s basically a park full of different types of jumping castles, slides, etc. For a flat fee, the kids can run around and do their thing. It’s very laid back and you can take a picnic or snacks and sit in the shade while the kids run around. There is also a pony available for rides.
We haven’t yet done this this but there’s a small fish farm just outside of Thones which is supposed to be very nice. It’s written up in detail here.
Ride Bikes Around the Lake
There are lots of bike hire places (location du velo) and it’s a great activity to go for a ride around (or part-way around) the lake.
Indoor Play Centre – La Foret Enchantee
This is no different from other play centres around the world but if it’s raining, it can be a good option. Probably best for kids up to 7 or so.
There are also lots of hikes to do – long and short. Of the short ones, Cascade d’Angon is great, or one of our favourites is Mt Veyrier. You drive to the start of this and after hiking through the forest (perhaps for 45 minutes), you arrive at a fantastic view point.
Tree Surfing / Accrobranche, Talloires
Most kids we’ve had visit love going tree surfing Talloires. It’s suitable for kids roughly 6 years and up (although depends on their height). There is also a mountain biking trail here too setup for kids.
These are lots of fun to do for an hour or so. Do it on a hot day so you can swim. You can get them from several places along the Paquier area, or at most of the beaches around the lake. We always try to get one with a slide. Be prepared to swim!
Parc de Merlet
This is an animal park near Chamonix (perhaps 1 hour drive). The animals are nice to see (mainly different types of mountain goats and deer) and it’s a lovely walk around with the kids. But the best thing is it has absolutely amazing views of Mont Blanc (only on a clear day though). Good place to take a picnic.
This is a private (paid, but not too expensive) beach just near the Imperial Palace (walking distance from the centre of Annecy). Our kids love the waterslide there (it’s probably suitable for kids 7 and up). There’s also some shallow pools for younger kids, sand to play in and a playground.
This is just near the Imperial. It’s an outdoor play centre with climbing structures, trampolines, mini golf, etc. You can pay per ride or for a certain amount of time. If it’s sunny it can get quite hot though as there is very little shade.
Flying Fox in La Clusaz
We have not done this yet but the Tyrolienne (zip line or flying fox) over the lake at the Lac des confins in La Clusaz is supposed to be good fun. (It seems that small kids can go with adults.) There is also a jumping castle there. It can be combined with a walk, and either a picnic or meal at Le Foly.
This is an indoor climbing place in Argonay recommended by a friend. (Here, there are no harnesses needed as they have mats to fall onto.)
Fort de Tamie
This is another great day out. There’s a fort to explore as well as their Acrofort (tree-surfing / ropes course) – different variations depending on the age of the kids. They have fantastic big zip lines / flying foxes.
Also, check out this blog: www.mummyinthemountains.com for lots more local advice
Other Things To Do
The paragliding (parapente) is great to watch, but even better to do. If you’ve ever wondered about doing a paraglide, Annecy is probably one of the best spots in the world to do it. It’s not too scary (my mum did it and she’s afraid of heights!).
It’s usually best on a warm, or at least sunny day, and seems to be mainly done in the afternoon. We’ve always used this company – www.grandsespaces.com – and all of their instructors have been great.
If you’re not interested in doing a parapente, it’s also great to have a picnic up at Planfait. (This is where the Talloires tree-surfing is too.)
Spa – La Lechere
This is a lovely (old fashioned) spa / resort. Access to the spas, saunas, steam rooms etc is around €25, but there is also a restaurant there and they have a deal where you can get a 3 course lunch plus spa access for around €30. This is a very relaxing way to spend an afternoon. Most of the complex is indoors but there is also a rooftop spa. Pretty sure children are not allowed here.
This is a quintessential part of Annecy so go there for a drink, meal, or Sunday brunch. They also have lots of events (many are free) so check their website.
Pizza on the Boardwalk
On a nice night, it’s a bit of a thing to get pizza (or bring your own picnic) on the board walk in the Petit Port area (Annecy-le-Vieux). The pizzas are great but allow about an hour for the pizzas (they’ll give you a time to collect).
Hike up La Tournette
This is quite a long hike (around 6 hours), but it’s absolutely stunning. Take lunch and water and head out early. Only recommended in warm and dry weather.
Climb a Via Ferrata
Via Ferratas are climbs with iron bolted into the rock for support. You wear a harness and are clipped into a cable at all times. If you haven’t done one, it’s something you won’t forget!
Explore Annecy Old Town
There’s heaps to be seen in the Annecy Old Town. It’s known as the “Venice of France” due to the many canals that flow through the centre of town. You can poke around yourself, or there are actually walking tours you can do to get more out of your visit. Choose to focus on culture, architecture or general city orientation. You can access maps and tour notes for free here.
Chalet Savoie Faire
This is a cooking school and chalet run by Nikki (Australian) and Hugh (Irish) – who have become friends of ours. They are located in a beautiful area, which is quite remote (about 1 hour 10 mins drive from Annecy). You can arrange to go up just for lunch, but it’s much better if you can stay for a couple of nights. Great cycling, hiking and relaxing to be had here!
Spa – St Gervais
This is another traditional spa centre located near Chamonix (so about a 1 hour drive from Annecy). They only allow kids on Wednesdays and Saturdays and you need to book.
Hire a Kayak, SUP or Boat
The lake is beautiful and even more so when you’re actually on it. You can hire Stand Up Paddle Boards, Kayaks or even motor boats from many locations around the lake. Park yourselves on a beach and go from there, or take a picnic on a boat. If you’re kayaking, the best area is between Menthon and Talloires (I think hiring from Talloires is best). You can also hire small sailing boats (from Saint Jorioz).
Day Trips from Annecy
- Chamonix – go up the cable car on Aiguille du Midi (Google the pics, it’s pretty amazing) (about 1 hour 15 from us)
- Gruyères in Switzerland – very pretty town with a lovely chocolate factory, cheese museum/shop etc (about 2 hours from us)
- Geneva in Switzerland – only about 40mins away. Big city, lots of museums etc. We haven’t seen much of it though (apart from the airport)
- Lyon – quite a big city (used to be the capital of France). Lots of history and things to see (about 1 hour 15 from us)
- Beaune or Dijon are also beautiful areas – but a bit further away (2.5-3 hours)
Restaurants in and around Annecy
There are lots of good restaurants in Annecy. A few that we have tried and love include;
- Les Chineurs
This is a lovely restaurant with great value menus (set 3 courses) for €30-€40. Might be a bit high-end for children – www.chineursdelacuisine.com
- La Ciboulette
This is a relatively high-end restaurant which can be fun to do. 6 courses for around €60 – www.laciboulette-annecy.com
- Saint Maurice Brasserie
This is a bit more casual. We’ve eaten there a few times and it’s always been good (the restaurant is upstairs, bar downstairs). www.stmau.com/fr
- Le Sapaudia
This pizza restaurant is supposed to be good for kids – www.lesapaudia.fr
- Le Clocher
This is an old and great quality restaurant in Annecy-le Vieux. www.le-clocher.com
- La Belvedere
This is not really in Annecy, but nar Aix-le-Bain (about a 45 minute drive). On a clear night it has really spectacular views of Lac du Bourget. They also do nice set menus for €30-€35. www.belvedere-la-chambotte.com
- Au Bureau
I’ve had a couple of nice lunches but not eaten at dinner. It’s always very full though. Has nice booths if you can get one. www.aubureau-annecy.fr
- Pre Verel Refuge
For something different, and very typical of the region here, it’s lovely to go to this refuge for dinner. They do fantastic cheese fondue and beef cooked on an open fire. It’s very rustic and authentic. www.preverel.info
- Chez Ma Cousine
This restaurant is located at the opposite end of the lake in Doussard. It has a fantastic position right on the water and the food and service is usually very good too. www.chezmacousine.fr
- Market in Annecy Old Town
You should try to go to at least one of these markets while you’re visiting. It’s on every Tuesday, Friday, and Sunday from about 9-12:30pm. You can find it here.
- Saturday Market
This is more of a food market that local buy from (slightly cheaper). It’s on near Galeries Lafayette (just outside of the old town) every Saturday morning. You can find it here.
- Monthly Flea Market / Brocante
If you happen to be in Annecy on the last Saturday of the month, this Flea Market is worth visiting. Find it here.
- Our favourite bakery
Boulangerie Patisserie Alexandre Perchat (find it here)
- Small shopping Centre – Courier
This is nothing too special but has a supermarket (Monoprix), Zara, H&M, etc. Find it here.
- Nice shopping areas in Annecy
For general poking around some nice shops, we recommend walking around: Rue Carnot, Rue Sommeiller, Rue Vaugelas, Rue du Paquier, Rue Sainte Claire/Rue de l’Ile
- Galeries Lafayette
This is an upmarket department store with lots of brands located just on the edge of town. Find it here.
- Cheese shop – Le Farto
This is where we like to buy cheese and it is interesting to have a look. It’s located in Thones so good to drop in on the way back from the mountains. Try Comte, Beauforte, Abondance, Reblechon, etc. Find it here.
- Versant Nord – Ski and Climbing Equipment Hire
If you need any outdoorsy equipment, these guys have a good range at reasonable prices. It’s located in Thones (on the way up the mountains) www.versant-nord.com
- Drop-in Doctor
If you need a doctor at short notice, this one does not require an appointment and speaks some English:
Doctor Philippe Vincent
2 rue de la Paix, Annecy 74000
04 50 45 79 19
Open 8:30am-11:00am and 2:00pm-6:30pm
Closed Wednesday afternoons, Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday
Obviously if there is something serious, go to the Annecy Hospital:
1 Avenue de l’Hôpital, 74370 Metz-Tessy (this is on the outskirts of town, about a 10 minute drive away)
- Emergency Number
If there is an emergency, dial 112 (from any phone)
This can connect you to police, ambulance, fire services, poisons line, etc. More details here.
If you know of other things that should be on the list here, or notice any errors, please let us know.