Set at the northern tip of the crystal-clear Lac d’Annecy and surrounded by snowcapped mountains, the capital of HauteSavoie is a natural beauty. With such a stunning back garden to play in, it’s no surprise that Anneciéns don’t spend much time inside, preferring to throw themselves into an array of outdoor pursuits.
As one of the world’s top 10 destinations for paragliding, Annecy’s skies are usually dotted with one or two thrill-seekers swooping through the fresh mountain air. If you want to stay more grounded, join locals around the protected cycling piste along the lake’s western side; one of France’s most popular voies vertes. Whether you’re part of the rollerblading, walking or cycling troop you’ll be rewarded with the same stunning backdrop of sparkling azure waters bordered by majestic mountain peaks.
For ski-keen residents, Annecy is well placed for accessing the cross-country slopes. Semnoz is 18km south, La Clusaz 32km east and Le Grand Bornand is 34km north-east. So if you choose to live in Annecy, a trip to the slopes would no longer be a little luxury but a way of life.
If locals aren’t hiking in the hills, they’re enjoying Annecy’s other main attraction – strolling through the Old Town. A warren of arcaded streets lined with pastel-coloured houses from the 16th century, this is where locals enjoy a most idyllic day-to-day life: crossing flower-covered bridges to buy the morning paper, sitting outside a café to gaze at the towering mountains, stocking up on local Savoyard specialities at the market or tucking into a heart-warming dish of raclette at a family-run bistro.
Above: Houses border the azure waters of Lac d’Annecy Below: Boulogne-sur-Mer Opposite: Dijon’s bustling city centre