It will take you about an hour to drive all the way round the Annecy Lake. Cycle – and it will take you around 5 hours. Or, you can take a water taxi (water-taxi.fr) which is great fun and gives you fabulous views.
There are 12 beaches to enjoy around the Lac d’Annecy and in summer they’re a perfect place to relax. After arriving in the gorgeous city of Annecy by train (3.5 hours from Paris) I headed for the town of Talloires on the other side of the lake. I was going to spend a night in a gorgeous former 17th century monastery that’s been converted to a luxurious hotel.
The Abbaye de Talloires looks like a dream of the perfect hotel, pastel blue shutters, mellow stone walls, nestled on the edge of Lake Annecy. The former chapel, turned monastery now hotel, is divine. You might think that a monk’s cell could be a bit small as a bedroom but the monks that lived here had it good, the rooms are huge. I stayed in a room overlooking the beautiful garden and blue waters of the lake. It’s the same room the French actor Jean Reno stays in when he’s here, he’s a shareholder in the hotel and this is his special place to relax, it’s not hard to see why.
The hotel is beautiful inside and out. There’s a private pontoon and an early morning dip is irresistible in what Winston Churchill, former resident, described as “the most beautiful bay in the world”. In summer the temperature of the water in Lake Annecy is around 22°C.
This hotel is where the first ever colour photo was taken in 1902. French physicist Gabriel Lippman captured the lovely cloisters for posterity. Those cloister are still there and make for a sensational spot for an aperitif. Mark Twain the famous American writer who stayed here, thought so too, he didn’t want to leave. Sitting on the terrace, watching the sun set over the lake makes for one of those moments you never forget, completely relaxing and so exquisitely pretty.
The restaurant is memorable for all the right reasons, not least of all for the dessert they served the day I was there, a most scrumptious, magical ice cream and sorbet tree! Charly, the famous sommelier, a true character, chooses wines that make you feel happy. I was lucky enough to take a sneaky peak into his wine cellars, it was like looking into a masterclass on wine keeping.
Talloires is a tranquil little town, just the right size to take a wander, with a few shops, bars and restaurants, pure fresh air, very calm and very tranquil. There are plenty of water activities available from fishing to kayaking. One of the most fun things to do is to hire an electric boat and discover a secret grotto and discover the blue lake looking just as it did when painted by the artist Cezanne who stayed at the Abbaye in 1896.
Col de la Forclaz
From Talloires it’s a short drive to what is possibly one of the most stunning view points and best selfie spots in France – the Col de la Forclaz. From the lofty peak of this picturesque place, paragliders take off, whizzing over your head as you swoon at the colours of the Lake below. Cow bells tinkle like a fairy orchestra in the mountains and the scent of lush meadow flowers under a deep blue sky lull you into tranquillity.
Details: 4 * Abbaye de Talloires Hotel: www.abbaye-talloires.com, room rates start at a surprisingly reasonable €121 (2018)
Photos of Annecy that will make you want to go there straight away!
Le Grand Bornand, the Annecy Mountain resort makes for a fabulous all year round destination
The Reblochon cheese makers of Haute-Savoie, a little piece of paradise.