If you’re American, chances are that you’ve never heard of Annecy, France.  How the Europeans have kept this charming city a secret is beyond me, but I couldn’t be happier that we were able to work Annecy into our schedule on our trip to France.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

The village of Annecy seems straight from the pages of a storybook – beautiful and picturesque.  Situated at the foothills of the French Alps and only a 45 minute drive from Geneva, Annecy is a historic canal city located adjacent to a beautiful glacier lake.  Lake Annecy is one of the cleanest and purest lakes in the world.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

Why go to Annecy? Certainly, there’s the obvious – it’s a stunning city with an extraordinary landscape.  I could have strolled around town all day taking photographs.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

Each bend in the cobblestone road afforded a photo opportunity better than the last.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

Even the prison in Annecy is picturesque! Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of The Palais de l’lsle is a castle in the center of the canal built in 1132, which has been used as Annecy’s jail during several periods throughout history.

The small village of Annecy also offers a plethora of interesting shops (where you could easily rack up some serious credit card bills), a handful of Michelin starred restaurants and a surprisingly vibrant night life.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

After you’ve taken your first stroll around the historic downtown, venture to Lake Annecy, which is just a short walk from the main canal.  Stroll across the Lover’s Bridge, rent a bicycle and watch the swans gracefully float about.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of After you admire the lake, get out on the water for even better views!  I’d highly recommend renting one of the small motorboats that you’ll find around the lake’s perimeter.  We paid $64 euro per hour, which was well worth the cost to relax on Lake Annecy’s pristine teal waters.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

If you have more time (or if you’re like me and just couldn’t get enough of the gorgeous lake), you can purchase a ticket near the canal for one of the large hop on/hop off boats.  This boat will allow you to explore the neighboring villages and obtain closer views of the castles and chateaus speckling the lake’s shoreline.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

Once you’ve seen the lake from the ground, view it from above.   Drive straight up the mountain and dine at Chalet La Pricaz for even more stunning views.Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

The restaurant is situated high on a mountain pass and offers a surreal dining experience at extremely reasonable prices.  I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the food at Chalet La Pricaz was as delightful as the views!

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of

We dined on tradition Savoy fondue as we watched paragliders take a running start off the mountain and float to the ground below.

Annecy: the most charming European city you've never heard of If you read this blog regularly, you know that it’s difficult for me to relax because there is usually so much that I want to do and see in a particular destination.  However, Annecy was so darn charming, it was impossible for me not to slow down and enjoy the loveliness of this quaint French village.  If you find yourself anywhere near the French Alps, please, do yourself a favor and spend a day or two in gorgeous Annecy.

What’s the most charming European city you’ve ever been to?  Is Annecy on your list to visit?

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