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Annecy is a city in the Rhône-Alpes (Rôno-Arpes) region of east central France,
on the shores of Lake Annecy, 22 miles south of Geneva.
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" Arrival, Information And Accommodation
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At the edge of the turquoise Lac d'Annecy, bounded to the east by the turreted peaks of La Tournette
and to the west by the long wooded ridge of Le Semnoz, ANNECY is one of the most beautiful and
popular resort towns of the French Alps, though the tourist traffic can get a bit wearing in high season.
Historically, it enjoyed a brief flurry of importance in the early sixteenth century, when Geneva opted for
the Reformation and the fugitive Catholic bishop decamped here with a train of ecclesiastics and a
prosperous, cultivated elite.
The most picturesque part of Annecy lies at the foot of the castle hill, a warren of lanes, passages and
arcaded houses, below and between which flow branches of the Canal du Thiou , draining the lake into
the River Fier. The houses, ringed by canal-side railings overflowing with geraniums and petunias,
are incredibly beautiful, but the effect is marred by the fact that almost every shopfront in this area is a
restaurant - at meal times it transforms into a vast outdoor mall.
From rue de l'Isle on the canal's south bank, the narrow Rampe du Château leads up to the château ,
former home of the counts of Genevois and the dukes of Nemours, a junior branch of the house of Savoy.
There has been a castle on this site from the eleventh century. The Nemours, finding the old fortress too
rough and unpolished for their taste, added living quarters in the sixteenth century, which now house the
miscellaneous collections of the Musée du Château (April-Sept daily 10am-6pm; rest of year
Wed-Sun 10am-noon & 2-6pm; 30F/?4.57), with archeological finds from the Iron and Bronze Ages
and Roman period, to Savoyard popular art and woodwork. There is also an interesting and elaborate
exhibition on the geography of the Alps.
At the base of the château is rue Ste-Claire , the main street of the old town, with arcaded shops and
houses. At no. 18 is the Hôtel Favre , where in 1606 Antoine Favre, an eminent lawyer, and Bishop de
Sales founded the literary-intellectual Académie Florimontane "because the Muses thrive in the
mountains of Savoie". At the west end of the street is its original medieval gateway.
Parallel to rue Ste-Claire, on the far side of the canal, rue J.-J. Rousseau passes the seventeenth-century
former bishop's palace and the uninspiring cathedral , where Rousseau once sang as a chorister.
From the cathedral, you can either continue towards the train station on the far side of rue Royale,
where the wider streets come as a welcome relief from the press of the alleys below the castle, or you
could make your way back towards the canal. Here you'll find the picture-perfect Palais de l'Isle,
a tiny twelfth-century fort which served in turn as palace, mint, court and prison (the latter as late as WWII),
and now holds the Musée de l'Histoire d'Annecy (June-Sept daily 10am-6pm; rest of year daily except
Tues 10am-noon & 2-6pm), with a few unexciting exhibits relating to the town's past glories
and, of more interest, the old prison cells. A few steps to the north, the fifteenth-century church of
St-Maurice conceals some excellent fifteenth- and sixteenth-century religious art.
Across the square to the east of the church from this, the Hôtel de Ville backs onto shady public gardens,
from where a bridge crosses a canal to the lake side lawns of the extensive Champ de Mars .
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