Our guide to planning a cycling holiday in Annecy
Annecy makes for a fantastic cycling holiday destination regardless of the type of bike you ride or your fitness level. Whether you want to test yourself on a Tour de France climb, or are looking for a more gentle route suitable for families, there is something in Annecy to please everyone. On this page we have listed out practical information for planning a cycling holiday to Annecy. Here you will find topics such as how to get to Annecy, cycling routes which you can ride, eating and drinking options, as well as a list of activities and popular attractions to explore whilst on your holiday.
Annecy – The Venice of the Alps
The city of Annecy is often referred to as the ‘Venice of the Alps’ owing to the magnificent canals which run through the cobbled streets in the medieval old town. The city is located on the shore of Lake Annecy which is France’s third largest lake. The turquoise waters of the lake which is framed by the looming peaks of the French Alps are a hive of activity during the warmer months of the year. Given this it is no wonder the Tour de France has chosen the picture perfect location of Annecy as a host city on several occasions.
Cycling in Annecy – options to suit every type of rider
When it comes to cycling, Annecy is really spoilt for choice. This area of the French Alps provides easy access to some of the famous Tour de France climbs. Of course you can make the riding in this area as hard or as easy as you wish. Whilst there are numerous Hors Category climbs such as Semnoz and Col de la Forclaz within easy riding distance of Annecy.
There are also some flatter options too which makes Annecy a perfect choice for a family cycling holidays as well. The very pleasant cycling loop around Lake Annecy itself is almost entirely on a fully separated cycle path. Free of motorised traffic this piece of infrastructure is very well utilised by cyclists, pedestrians and rollerbladers alike. For the MTB rider, there is a great downhill trail network accessible on the Semnoz mountain range which is to the west of Lake Annecy.
Explore these cycling routes in Annecy
We have put together a list of riding routes to help you plan to go cycling in Annecy. Each route includes the ability to download files to a range of devices and includes other helpful information. You will find all of the cycling routes listed start and finish in Annecy, so a pleasant spin down along the lake awaits you at the finish. Click below to see the riding options from Annecy in greater detail:
How to travel to Annecy for your cycling holiday?
Annecy is the natural gateway to the Haute Savoie region and is extremely well connected with transport links. This makes it an easy destination to travel to. It is well served by regular air, rail and bus services. Rome2rio.com is an excellent site to help plan your trip to the French Alps. Simply enter your start and end points and it will tell you the different options available, cost range and timetable.
The Michelin website also provides you with a good trip planning overview which also includes the costs of tolls and estimates costs for fuel consumption as well.
The main Autoroute to the area is the A43 known as the l’autoroute alpine. It runs between Lyon all the way through the French Alps to the tunnel which connects France to Italy. From Lyon it will take approximately 1hr30mins to drive to Annecy. If you are travelling from Paris the journey is longer and will take approximately 5hr30mins via the A6. Be mindful you will need to pay toll fees to drive on the autoroutes in France.
Annecy is well serviced by the both the TGV and TER trains and there are a number of daily services operating from most major French cities . Our page about the French rail network has more information regarding the French train network and advice on booking tickets.
If you are flying internationally to the French Alps, than your closest international airports are either Lyon or Geneva. Depending on the airline you fly you may have to fly to Paris and then make your way down by car, train or air. See our airports page for further details on these airports.
A bus service operates between Lyon and Annecy four times a day. The trip will take just over 2 hours and is another alternative to the train or hiring a car.
Accommodation options to go cycling in Annecy
Annecy is a popular cycling destination and there are a number of accommodation options available catering for all budgets. To help you plan we have provided links to a number of booking sites so you can see what is available. Have a look at our page on French accommodation types if you are not sure what is available.
B & B
Eating and drinking
There are no shortage of places to eat and drink in the area with something available to suit all budgets. We generally turn to tripadvisor.com to look at options for restaurants and cafés. Another tip is to just take a punt on a place that looks nice and busy and is open and serving food. We have yet to be disappointed.
Farmers markets near Annecy
There are a number of weekly farmers markets in the region that are worth checking out if you have the time. Here you will find lots of fresh fruit and vegetables as well as local cheeses, small goods, seafood and meats.
Times for the markets are:
Annecy – Tuesday, Friday and Sunday mornings
Aix les Bains – Wednesday and Saturday – all day
Chambrey – Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday and Saturday mornings.
Food specialties of the Hautes Savioe – what to try whilst on your cycling holiday in Annecy?
Every region in France has is culinary specialities and the Hautes Savoie is no different. You could say it is a cheese lovers paradise with a lot of world renowned cheeses being produced in the area. Some local dishes and produce to seek out are listed below:
Reblechon cheese – a cheese traditionally made from raw cows milk. Due to its AOC accreditation it can only be produced in the Savoy region of France.
Tartiflette– a hearty dish which you will normally find served in a gratin dish. This is made with potatoes, onion, lardons, white wine and coated with Reblechon cheese.
Brioche aux Pralines – for the sweet tooth this is a brioche which is mixed with red pralines and sugar.
Bike shops and hire near Annecy
If you plan to go cycling in Annecy and need to rent a bike you will be pleased to know there are several options for hire. As Annecy is such a popular cycling destination we strongly recommend you organise your bike hire in advance of your arrival. This will ensure you avoid any disappointment in the event there are no bikes left to be hired!
If you are planning on road cycling in Annecy be ready to tackle some steep gradients. So just make sure the bike you hire has adequate gearing. We would recommend a compact crankset coupled with a climbing cassette. For a list of bike hire options in Annecy, refer to the bike hire table below.
Other activities to discover whilst on your cycling holiday in Annecy
Whether you want to spend some time off the bikes or have family members that are not keen cyclists there are plenty of things to do around this area. The lake itself offers up many water based activities. In fact, after a long ride a refreshing swim in the clear waters is very pleasing.
Below we have included some suggestions for you to explore further whilst staying in the area.
Popular Annecy Activities and Attractions
There are a number of “must see” attractions in and around Anncey. The Vielle Ville (meaning old town)- is an absolute must. Here you will find beautiful old buildings lining the turquoise coloured canals which flow in at several places through the town. It is a very popular attraction and can get very crowded in Summer. If you’d like to see this part of Annecy with some less people around we would recommend getting out there very early in the morning.
Le Palais de l’Ile is a prison located in the Vielle Ville which dates back to the 12th Century. It is now run as a museum and you can take a tour through the old court rooms, cells and dungeons of the prisoners. Of course a trip to Annecy would be incomplete without a picture taken in front of the old prison!
Chateau de Menthon Saint-Bernard is located 20 mins to the south of Annecy. It apparently inspired Walt Disney in his design for Sleeping Beauty’s castle.
Day trips options from Annecy
There are numerous options for day trips from Annecy. Located just a short train ride away is Aix les Bains. Located along the shores of Lac du Bourget. It is the deepest inland lake located entirely in France and much like Lake Annecy, is surrounded by high alpine peaks.
If you looking for a larger city escape than Lyon is a fantastic option. Again it is regularly serviced by TGV trains and buses and is just 2 hours away. Known as the Gastronomical capital of France, Lyon is a food lovers paradise. We highly recommend a trip to the various covered food markets in the city.
Geneva in Switzerland is also easily accessible for a day trip. The journey will take approximately 1hr15min on the French TER trains. Trains to Geneva run several times a day.
The rome2rio.com site provides all the details you will need to plan your excursion.
As you can see, there is no shortage of other activities in the mountains for your consideration also. Whether it be mountain biking, paragliding or paddling along the magnificent clear waters of the lake, there is something to suit most people.
Practical Amenities in Annecy
|Doctor||As you expect from a large city, there are several Doctors available in Annecy. If you want to search for an english speaking doctor then you can consult the website www.doctolib.fr From here you can filter your search to specifically show English Speaking Doctors.|
|Hospital||The Annecy Genevois Hospital Center is open 24 hours and is the largest hospital in the Haute Savoie department. The hospital is located in Annecy and the address is: 1 Avenue de l’Hôpital, 74370 Epagny Metz-Tessy|
|Pharmacy||There are a number of Pharmacies in central Annecy. Look for the large green cross sign.|
|Dentist||There are a number of Dentists in Annecy. For an English Speaking Dentist you can consult the website www.doctolib.fr and filter your search to specifically show English Speaking Dentists.|
|Banking Services||All the major French Banks have branches located within Annecy. You will also find a number of Automatic Cash Machines as well.|
|Supermarket||There are several supermarkets located throughout Annecy.|
|Train Station||Annecy Station is centrally located at Place de la Gare and just a short walk from the old Town ‘Vielle Ville”.|
|Bus Terminal||Gare Routiere is the main Bus Terminal in Annecy. It is centrally located next to the Train Station.|
|Car Rental Office||There are several car rental hire companies operating in Annecy. The majority of which have offices next to the Annecy Train station.|
We have included some useful web sites to help you see what is on offer and plan your cycling holiday in Annecy.
Viator.com – book a range of tours and attractions before you leave home
Lake Annecy Tourism – includes lots of information about Annecy and the surrounding areas and links to various activities.