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The city of Annecy (Haute-Savoie department)

Located in the Haute-Savoie department (Rhône-Alpes region) in south east France, the city of Annecy is famous for being an industrial and tourist center. Annecy is located between Geneva and Chambéry, on the northern tip of the lake of Annecy, 35 kilometres south of Geneva.

On July 23rd, 2009 Annecy played host to Stage 18 of the Tour de France, as the start/finish point for an individual time trial around the lake of Annecy.

Here are some of the famous monuments to visit in Annecy:

  • The Palais de l’Isle, also called the “old prison”, was built from the twelfth century. Taking up most of the island in a canal, it is the symbol of the town and is among the most photographed monuments in France.

The Palais de l’Isle (above and below)

  • The Château d’Annecy (Annecy Castle) was the home of the Counts of Geneva and the Dukes of Genevois-Nemours, an offshoot of the House of Savoie (12th-16th century). Today the restored castle houses the Art and History Conservatory of Annecy and the Regional Office of the Alpine Lakes.
  • The Cathedral of Saint-Pierre, built in the early 16th century as a Franciscan friary, was the cathedral of François de Sales and is home to a number of artworks and baroque pieces from the nineteenth century.
  • The rue Sainte-Claire and its romantic arches, built in the 17th and 18th centuries.
  • The rue royale, with its numerous shops, gardens and the fountain of Saint Jean is the heart of the commercial and political activities of the town.
  • The money workshop of the Genevois now houses the Musée de l’Histoire d’Annecy (the Museum of Annecy’s history).
  • The church of Saint-Maurice, originally constructed as a church of the Dominican order, has a flamboyant gothic style of the 15th century, and houses some very memorial interesting paintings from the 15th and 16th centuries.
  • The European Gardens, made just after the annexing of Savoie in 1863, where one can admire the very rich and diverse vegetation.
  • The Pont des Amours (the Lovers’ Bridge), a beautiful example of the iron architecture typical of the 20th century.
  • The Impérial Palace, inaugurated in 1913, with its public gardens, its beach and its casino.
  • The Basilique de la Visitation, built in the 20th century, home of the tomb of François de Sales and Jeanne de Chantal, offers a magnificent view of the town and the agglomeration.

Each year, on the first Saturday of August takes place the “Fête du lac d’Annecy”, which is a famous festival.

For one and half hour, more than 150 000 people come every year to admire these fireworks. The theme of the festival is different every year. This is a tradition that started in 1860, when the Emperor Napoléon III and the Empress Eugénie were the guests of Annecy (from the 29th to the 31st August 1860) to celebrate the Savoie’s incorporation into France. The province got split into two departments: Savoie and Haute-Savoie. In honour of their majesties, the city organized a night festival, which represents the origin of the traditional festival of the lake. Today, this festival is a major event and is considered to be one of the most beautiful fireworks in Europe. For more information about the Savoie’s incorporation into France, click on this link: http://www.sommets-tourisme.org/e/region/haute-savoie/histoire.html

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