Lake Annecy, one of the purest lakes in Europe, is located in the Haute Savoie region, just like Lake Geneva. It measures 14.6 kilometres and is 800 to 3300 metres wide, making it the second largest lake in France after Lake Bourget. It is made up of two distinct basins, the “Grand” and the “Petit lac” which separate the lake in two between the Roc de Chère and the Château de Duingt.
Natural sites in the vicinity
For a unique view of the lake, we advise you to take the beautiful walk to the Cascade d’Angon. The Roc de Chère hike allows you to discover this nature reserve overlooking the lake. At the end of the “Petit Lac”, you can visit the Bout du Lac nature reserve.
And not far away, the natural site of the cave and waterfall of Seythenex is worth a visit. Finally, the Gorges du Fier is an impressive canyon where you walk on a footbridge 25 m above the river. To the north of Annecy, you can spend a pleasant day at the Balme lake.
The surrounding mountains
The sumptuous setting of Lake Annecy is surrounded by mountain ranges that are there to protect it. We suggest you discover them starting with the Parmelan near Annecy-le-Vieux which borders the Mont Veyrier which is an easily accessible mountain.
Then the Dents de Lanfon is a much steeper massif which borders the majestic mountain of Tournette. After that it’s the end of the lake in the plain. On the way back to Annecy you will see the Massif des Bauges and then the favourite mountain of the inhabitants of Annecy: the Semnoz.
These mountains have different levels of difficulty and are suitable for everyone.
The guide proposes a tour of the lake to enable you to choose among the most beautiful beaches of Lake Annecy those you will choose to soak and among the most beautiful villages those you will visit. The tour of Lake Annecy represents 40 km which can be done by car, by bike (a large part of the tour is on a cycle track).
However, the track is very busy in summer, so we advise you to wear a helmet. To tour Lake Annecy, hiring a boat allows you to access natural creeks that are not very popular for bathing and to easily reach the village ports.
The fauna and flora of the lake
As the second largest lake of glacial origin in France, Lake Annecy has a rich ecosystem which is home to the fauna of the Haute-Savoie region of this natural environment. In terms of vegetation, the walker can admire the reed beds on the edge of the lake. This natural environment allows the nesting of swans, coots, green-necked ducks and crested grebes.
Lake Annecy is very pure, which allows large grass beds to flourish. The grass beds allow perch and féras to breed and pike to hunt them. Arctic char and trout are particularly sought after by many anglers.
Activities on Lake Annecy
The lake is a wonderful playground for all lake activities enthusiasts. All seasons are conducive to unforgettable moments. The sailing and regatta societies regularly organise races which end with a convivial moment in the different clubs of Annecy or Sévrier.
Scuba diving is also a fast growing activity. The visit of thewreck of the France, the last steamboat to sail on the lake, is a must for divers. The discovery of the large grass beds also allows you to see the main species of fish: féra, pike, trout, arctic char and perch.
For boaters, boat hire is an excellent value for money option for a family day out. It allows tourists to admire the lake’s shores and take a dip in the purest waters in Europe. Various models of boats, with or without a licence, are available for hire in the different ports.
Paddleboarding is one of the sports that is becoming increasingly popular year after year. Many stand up paddle competitions are organised even outside the summer season.
The amateurs of glide are also filled, they practise the water skiing, the wakeboard, the oar or the Dragon Boat a great part of the year. Lake Annecy does not have a strong and regular wind. But windsurfers are out and about as soon as the weather conditions are right. Beautiful beaches surround the lake, making it a great place to spend a day swimming and enjoying a picnic lunch.
For fishermen, Lake Annecy is a popular spot with the possibility of fishing from a boat or from the shore. A day permit is required.
We advise you to use public transport and to cycle around the lake using the greenway. The high number of visitors in the summer often causes traffic jams and parking spaces are scarce. You can also take a cruise on Lake Annecy. On the edge of the Gardens of Europe, at the Bayreuth quay, large ships allow you to sail around the large lake.
The most imposing, “Le Libellule”, allows you to have lunch or dinner during the cruise. Reservations can be made online or on site at: 2 place au Bois, 74 000 Annecy.
Important: It is compulsory to respect the navigation regulations on Lake Annecy. Numerous controls are carried out by the Gendarmerie Nationale boat. Speed is limited along the banks. Some areas are totally forbidden to navigation such as the nature reserve at the end of the lake and the reed beds.
These wetlands have been prohibited since 1980 to encourage the nesting of the bird species present on the lake: swans, mallards and coots. In the bay of Annecy, some roads are reserved for the large ships that cruise the lake. Finally, thunderstorms can be sudden and violent, so it is essential to consult the weather forecast.
See the fireworks
The lake is a great place for firework displays, with lights reflected in the water to create unique moments. Every year on the first Saturday of August, the Lake Annecy Festival, which is a huge fireworks display, attracts over 200,000 spectators to the town. The theme, the fireworker and the music change every year.
On 14 July, many towns around the lake celebrate the Fête Nationale with fireworks displays along the lake. In Annecy-le-vieux, on the Albigny beach, the fireworks are fired on July 13th. Discover the places and times of these fireworks of July 14th.
At the beginning of August, the village of Talloires organizes the Pyroconcerts. It is a mixture between contemporary music concert and fireworks. A magical moment that you can experience during your holidays.
All information in the tourist offices
Depending on where you are staying around Lake Annecy, you can get information from the 6 tourist offices.
It is a source of quality information with advice and practical information according to your needs and expectations during your holiday.
History of the formation of the lake
More than 15,000 years ago, the birth of Lake Annecy came from the surrounding mountains and the above-mentioned sources following the melting of the great Alpine glaciers.
It is also the source of the river Thiou, which forms in the heart of the Old Town (behind the town hall) where you will find the pier, as well as the Libellule, the Cygne, the Savoie and the other famous red and white boats that ply the lake all year round for the enjoyment of all. It ends its journey by flowing into the Fier, which in turn flows into the Rhône.
The lake is one of the major assets of the city’s tourism because of the many activities it offers: swimming and relaxing on the beaches around the lake, boat trips (if you don’t have one, don’t hesitate to think about renting a boat or a pedal boat in Annecy or elsewhere around the lake), windsurfing, diving… There is also the exceptional Lake Festival, held every year by the town of Annecy, in the form of a magnificent firework display on the first Saturday in August.
With a maximum depth of 82 metres, an average depth of 41.5 metres and an altitude of 466 metres, Lake Annecy is fed by the Bourbioz (an underground spring), the Bornette, the Laudon, the Biolon, as well as the Ire and the Eau morte which, according to legend, are responsible for swallowing up a village in the 15th Century!
The temperature of Lake Annecy varies greatly according to the season. In winter, the water temperature of the lake is generally between 2° and 8°, while in summer it reaches 18° to 26°. The temperature of the lake is mainly influenced by precipitation and outside temperatures.
Thus the temperature readings vary from year to year. In the past, the lake was completely frozen in winter, but this phenomenon has tended to diminish over the years and the lake now only partially freezes.
A recent international study shows that lakes are warming up by 0.4 degrees per decade due to global warming. In 40 years, lakes have lost 5.5% of their oxygen at the surface and 18% in the deep waters. This decrease is 4 to 9 times greater than the decrease in the oceans.
The main consequence is that the survival of fish is no longer guaranteed at a depth of 20 metres between September and November. This leads to a reduction in biodiversity. The large Alpine lakes such as Le Bourget and Annecy are affected.
Other large lakes in the Savoie
The largest lake in Western Europe is Lake Geneva. It is located between France and Switzerland. You can visit cities like Geneva, Lausanne, Montreux and Evian-les-Bains on its shores. Lac du Bourget is also an alpine lake located in Savoie. We advise you to visit Aix-les-Bains and the abbey of Haute-Combe.
The smaller Lake Aiguebelette is also in the Savoie department. It is home to an aquatic leisure centre.
Panoramic photo of the lake taken between the Paquier and the Impérial Palace.Click on it to see it in big size
Image source: WikipediaPhoto taken from the Albigny beach in Annecy le Vieux with the view on the Mont Veyrier, the Tournette and Veyrier of the lake:
Photo taken from the Albigny beach with the view on the end of the lake: Duingt, Talloires, Menthon Saint Bernard… :
The end of the lake taken at the exit of Angon and Talloires in direction of Doussard. This part of the lake is called “The small lake”:
The lake this time seen from the pebble beach of Duingt at a few hundred meters from the castle of Duingt (limit between the two parts of the lake):
Photo from the commune of Saint Eustache on the heights of Saint Jorioz:
The lake in winter:
In winter with a view of the Dents de Lanfon: Still in winter with a view of the Tournette: The last 4 photos on this page are from the photographer Jean-Michel Morrand, published with his agreement and taken from his site: eos100.photos.free.fr