Annecy Lake, Haute-Savoie. Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

The Annecy Lake is a lake of France located in the Alps, in Haute-Savoie and region Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. By its surface, it is the second lake of glacial origin in France after that of Bourget. From Cézanne’s painting to reality, the magic of Lake Annecy has remained the same. Considered to be the purest lake in Europe, its turquoise and transparent water surrounded by the surrounding mountains make it a dream setting where calm and serenity reign supreme. Swan Island, canals in the old town, nature reserves, castles overlooking the lake or on a peninsula, lake archaeological sites classified by UNESCO, mythical wreck…

The lake formed at the end of the Würm Glaciation, that is to say during a period between 17000 BC. AD and 15,000 BC. AD, corresponding to the gradual melting of the great alpine glaciers. It is fed by seven streams and torrents, born in the surrounding mountains and a powerful sub-lacustrine spring. The basin is framed to the north by the agglomerations of Annecy, to the east by the Bornes massif, to the west by the Bauges massif and to the south by the Faverges depression which extends the Bout-du-Lac.

The lake discharges its overflow of water into the Thiou which feeds the Fier north-west of the town of Annecy, which then flows directly into the Rhône. The lake is a very attractive tourist site, known for its many nautical activities, paragliding, and its environmental qualities allowing the observation of unspoiled nature. Lake Annecy belongs to the public fluvial domain of the French state and the only island it includes, Île des Cygnes, is man-made and is located opposite Annecy. There is a cycle path called “the Voie Verte du lac d’Annecy”, located on the west shore of the lake on its own site over a distance of 33 km.and managed by SILA.

Lake Annecy is renowned for its cleanliness, it is considered to be the purest urbanized lake (with an inhabited watershed) in Europe. The lake water is considered drinkable and can be used without treatment. The tap water distributed in Annecy thus comes directly from the lake. The nitrate level is less than 1 milligram per liter, which is much lower than the authorized level of bottled spring water (5 mg / l), and the level of pesticides is also well below the maximum 0.1 µg / l authorized for bottled spring waters

This water purity is the result of more than fifty years of investments to divert wastewater from the watershed: collectors located under the roads around the lake collect the wastewater from all the municipalities, villages along the lake and hamlets in the watershed, to send and treat them to a wastewater treatment plant located in the suburbs of Annecy, therefore downstream from the lake. This has not always been the case, previously wastewater flowed directly into the lake without purification. In the 1950s the lake was threatened by eutrophication and by periodic invasions of algae. During the last decades, these problems gradually diminished until they almost disappeared. The transparency of the water went from 3 meters in 1957 to 14 meters in 2007.

Paradoxically today, it is the very sluggish purity of water, correlated with its lack of nutrients (nitrates, phosphates) for plants and phytoplankton, which could pose new ecological problems or at least sometimes perceived as such.. The drop in zooplankton productivity reduced the number of fish in the lake. While fish species that are demanding in terms of water quality, especially salmonids such as arctic char, were able to repopulate the lake from the start of the water protection measures, these fish are now fewer and smaller due to the ever smaller amount of food available. The great transparency of the water also makes the sun’s rays penetrate more deeply into the water, which, through a complex phenomenon, decreases the dissolved oxygen in the lake, and could further impoverish its fauna.

For lack of the phosphates they need, the reed beds and seagrass beds of aquatic plants have seen their surfaces shrink considerably. Ducks and swans now have a harder time finding their food, so their numbers have declined. However, this situation is considered natural and normal for a peri-alpine lake that is oligotrophic and unpolluted by man, and therefore not problematic in itself, it is an environment and an ecological balance very different from that of mesotrophic or eutrophic lowland lakes. Lake Annecy is fed only by small mountain streams and underground springs, which provide very little sediment and nutrients. TheOverall biomass is therefore naturally quite low there. These conditions favor adapted species, which are rare elsewhere nowadays because of the generalized trophic pollution.

From now on, the objective of the mixed union is to study how to treat PAHs (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons) coming from surface runoff water, not captured by sewers, containing oil residues in the event of rain. The other objectives are the improvement of rainwater management, the restoration of reed beds, the electric motorization of boats circulating on the lake and the development of ecological anchorage.

Lake sediments are not immune to the problem of PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls), but the PCB rate is however low compared to Lake Bourget neighbor. Since no local source of PCB pollution has been identified in the lake’s watershed, the existence of this low level of PCBs in the lake would be mainly due to atmospheric fallout, through rainwater, in particular by the water resulting from the evaporation of Lake Bourget which is the main source of diffusion of PCBs in the region, which makes it possible to highlight a phenomenon of atmospheric diffusion of PCBs in the past, by “halo effect », Up to 40 km on the outskirts of Lac du Bourget.

Protected area
Discovering Lake Annecy means granting yourself a passport for fitness and vitality, as well as for serenity and relaxation. It is first to contemplate an exceptional landscape, composed of blue, green and white, clear water, forests and snow. The panorama of the lake and the mountains which surround it is soft, not aggressive but nevertheless imbued with alpine character: the lake is located at 447 meters of altitude, but it is overlooked at the highest point by the Tournette, breathtaking summit in armchair shape, which rises to 2351 meters.

We are here in harmony with Nature which we leave sovereign, because the watchwords in this area, for more than 40 years, have been: “respect and protection”. But these protected areas are also accessible for discovery and wonder, with the objective of a reasonable harmony between the landscape, the inhabitants and the visitors. Since the 19th century, tourists from all over the world have frequented this world, which is now known all over the world. They are attracted both by its unique aesthetic and by the quality of the conservation efforts undertaken to preserve the lake and its surroundings from any irreversible pollution.

The efforts made since 1957 (foundation of the Syndicat Intercommunal du Lac d’Annecy) to restore the quality of its waters have earned Lake Annecy wide international recognition, consecrated by numerous honorary awards.

In 1957, the words “ecology” and “environment” did not yet exist, but these perfectly successful operations to rescue the lake, at the initiative of years “visionaries”, headed by Doctor Paul Servettaz and the Senator -Maire Charles Bosson, were highly publicized from their first results and remain so today.

This recognition and the frequent visits of international experts, who come to learn about the exemplary nature of this collective project, allow the inhabitants of the shores of the lake to feel a certain pride because they have supported these efforts to clean up the lake and have accepted and financed the gigantic works made necessary to secure the future. The younger generations are constantly trained here in the necessary precautions and respectful attitudes to adopt.

Tourism was immediately placed in this perspective of preservation: the successive slogans “Annecy Lac Pur” and “Lake Annecy, Oxygen at the Source” wanted to draw the attention of visitors to these conservation efforts and all tourism stakeholders participate in the information on this example to follow. In this logic, the application for Lake Annecy to be inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List was presented in 2008 by the Syndicat du Lac, representing all the neighboring municipalities, as a natural and cultural site..

Nature reserves

Nature Reserve Bout du Lac
The Bout-du-Lac nature reserve is located at the extreme south of the lake. Measuring 84 ha in area, it has been protected since 1974. Two rivers (Ire and Eau Morte) flow there, and its territory is covered with forests and wild reeds. It is a swamp that once absorbed variations in the level of the lake.

A wooden path takes you through the very heart of the marsh, between the reeds, for half an hour of walking, to the Beauvivier Tower, the vestige of a fortified house from the Middle Ages.

The coot, the grebe crested, mallard ducks, lizards and 3 families of beavers have marsh habitat. Many aquatic birds come here to winter and reproduce. You can admire colchicum, hops, Solomon’s seal and orchids. It will be harder to observe the rare pneumonanthe gentian.

Nature Reserve Roc Dear
The Roc de Chère is a major ecological site, a small rocky outcrop by the lake on the eastern shore, located on the territory of the municipality of Talloires. It is a protected area, since 1977 with an area of 69 ha (0.69 km).

It is located between the villages of Talloires and Menthon-Saint-Bernard, just on the border between Grand and Petit Lac and allows you to discover superb panoramas all along the hiking trails running through it. It plunges into Lake Annecy through impressive cliffs 50 to 70 m high. We can also see lapiaz, which are limestone rocks eroded by water, and which are often found in the pre-Alpine massifs.

Formerly operated by the monks of the Abbey of Talloires, today it is mostly colonized by sessiliflora oak groves and charms; the rhodoraie it flourishes. A nature reserve was created there in 1978 to protect the exceptional richness of the site. 35% of its area today (in 2004) belongs to the Conservatoire du littoral et des rivages lacustres. On its northern slopes stretches a golf course.

Thanks to the alternation of calcareous soils and siliceous soils (sandstone), and the presence of different microclimates from one valley to another, more than 560 species of flowers and plants grow there. Among them are:

relict plants from the Ice Age (lichens, Carex limosa, etc.);
plants typical of the subalpine stage (ferruginous rhododendron, selagine lycopod, etc.);
and plants belonging to the submediterranean flora (capillary, Montpellier maple, madder, etc.).

The glacier has left a bog there where one can find sundews, a bog sedge (Carex sp.) And the arctic cordulia, a dragonfly. In a canyon hidden under the forest, there are plants that usually grow at 2000 m (ferruginous rhododendron, lycopod selagine). However, on the lake side, on the cliffs in a hot and dry environment, southern species have become acclimatized and developed (such as the Montpellier maple, etc.).

An abundant fauna has also appropriated the place and finds refuge there. Among the birds we find the rock swallow and the peregrine falcon which nest in the cliffs, but also the black kite and leucophée gulls.

It is not possible to say that Lake Annecy experienced a real culture of life on the lake, such as we can know it for example on certain Italian lakes.

The immediate surroundings of the lake were, in the past, considered unhealthy because of the recurring humidity which affected the dwellings located nearby. Only a few fishermen had taken up residence on the banks. The villages were still located high up a few hundred meters from the lake.

Sailing did not really develop until summer, because it was tourists who practiced it and started the fashion.

Ports and leisure centers
Annecy nautical circle.
Port des Marquisats in Annecy, 271 mooring rings.
Port d’Albigny in Annecy-le-Vieux, has 214 mooring rings.
Nautical base of the Petit-Port in Annecy-le-Vieux.
Nautical base of the Port des Champs in Veyrier-du-Lac, 76 mooring rings.
Port and nautical base of the Port in Menthon-Saint-Bernard, 10 mooring buoys.
Port of Talloires.
Port of Angon in Talloires.
Port and nautical base of Doussard, 100 mooring rings.
Port and nautical base of La Nublière in Doussard.
Duingt harbor and nautical and leisure center, 60 mooring rings.
Port and nautical base of Saint-Jorioz, has 342 mooring rings.
Port and nautical base of Sévrier, 380 mooring rings and parking on land.

At the time of paddle steamers, twelve wharfs were built by Les Ponts et Chaussées around the lake: Annecy, Beau-Rivage, Sévrier, Saint-Jorioz, Duingt, Bredannaz, Doussard-Bout du Lac, Angon, Talloires, Menthon- Saint-Bernard, Veyrier, Chavoires. Since then, some have disappeared: Beau-Rivage, Bredannaz and Chavoires.

Navigation Company of Lake Annecy
Since 1840, more than twenty cruise ships have provided public navigation and cruise services on Lake Annecy.

Wooden boats and canoes
Two kinds of wooden boats have marked Lake Annecy in the first half of the XX century, and we delight even today:
The mahogany motor boats built by the carpenter-cabinetmaker Métral around 1920, of which only six carefully maintained examples remain.
The wooden boats made from 1920 by the carpenter-cabinetmaker François Beauquis in his workshop in Saint-Jorioz, still in use today. They have shells four to six meters long, made of mahogany or larch, with oak or acacia centerpieces and copper rivets. The workshop having taken the turn of polyester in the 1960s, the last wooden boat was built in 1973. However, they are always carefully maintained by their owners in the very workshop where they were made. It is possible to rent them in Talloires and Menthon-Saint-Bernard.

After World War II, during the 1950s and 1960s, the lake also saw the emergence of a few wood-built speedboats. You can still see them and even rent them near the Pont des Amours in Annecy.

There is also an association “Les Vieux Safrans d’Annecy ” specializing since 1993 in the restoration of wooden boats and which is located in premises in Rumilly.

Another association “Sailing and canoes” aims to promote traditional navigation on the lake by developing a whole art of living on the water, for example, access by boat to hotels and restaurants.

Activities and sporting events
Lake Annecy is in fact a small body of water located in the middle of the mountains (Mont Veyrier, Semnoz, Parmelan…). These mountains make the circulation of the winds unstable. They are often unexpected, which is precisely the interest of sport navigation on mountain lakes. The lake was also the venue for the French light cruiser championships in 2009.

Walks: Villages and Nature Reserves
Even if this is not the most common way to visit Lake Annecy, it is possible to go around the Lake on foot via a 43km pedestrian route which takes about a day (NB some parts are a bit busy and are not fitted out). You can also choose to take a stroll by going directly to the ten municipalities around the lake to soak up the charm of the small Haute-Savoie villages.

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Lake Annecy also has two nature reserves:
The Roc de Chère reserve is located on the east bank between the villages of Menthon-Saint-Bernard and Talloires-Montmin. You can discover 68 hectares of protected flora and fauna with remarkable panoramas.
The Bout-du-Lac reserve is located, as its name suggests, at the extreme south of the lake, in the town of Doussard. 80 hectares are to be covered via an educational path accessible to all – as well as to people with reduced mobility. You will be able to admire an exceptional ecosystem like families of European beavers.

Cycling Around the Lake
A wonderful way to discover the lake and its surroundings . Allow about 3 hours to complete the tour of the lake by bike and go forty kilometers. The cycle path covers almost the entire route even if some sections have not yet been developed on the east bank. Do not hesitate to take breaks on the beaches, in the restaurant or simply to admire the landscape. You can also take out your rollerblades or your skate to have fun along this cycle path (green lane on the west bank side) which does not present any particular difficulty. It is of course requested to respect the rules of good conduct and the safety instructions.

Boat journey:
Pedalo Sail
the lake in complete relaxation with the driving force of your feet. With family or friends, it’s a great activity that allows you to go at your own pace, sunbathe, toboggan if you want, bathe and get back on the boat easily with the help of a scale.

Motor Boat
Renting a boat isboth work with or without a license, choose your model to discover Lake Annecy and enjoy beautiful moments. The boat allows you to go further to explore at best and find the best spot for swimming.

Boats And Wooden Canoes
Discover the lake in the most authentic way, head to Pâquier and Pont des Amours where you can board the Savoyard stars. The hundred-year-old wooden boats will instantly take you back in time…

Commented cruise, on a catamaran, in a private boat… there are many ways to go on an excursion on Lake Annecy. According to your desires, find the formula that suits you best. Whatever your choice, sumptuous landscapes await you offshore.

Beginners or experts, to go sailing is to go on an adventure. Catamaran, dinghy, windsurfing… select the sailboat of your desires to sail and play with the wind.

Discover the world of a sport in the great outdoors: rowing. In complete safety, the graduate supervisors will pass on their best advice to you during an initiation in an exceptional setting. Be ready to challenge your endurance, body strength and motor coordination.

Canoe Kayak
Do you want to feel closer to nature? Climb aboard a canoe kayak and explore the shores and seabed which are full of surprises. The small hidden caves still have their effect…

Stand Up Paddle
Go for a ride on the water in an original way standing on a paddle board . At your own pace, discover Lake Annecy in a completely different way: walk along the edge of a castle, discover a nature reserve, admire a magnificent sunset…

Freedom, modernity, stability. Fly above water using a foil also called hydrofoil or surf of the future. Your board rises with the force of your muscles or the wind or with the help of a small electric motor that propels you and you can manage your speed.

Water Skiing, Wakeboarding and Wakesurf
Put on summer skis or a rider’s board and let yourself be towed by a boat to indulge in the joys of skiing. Adrenaline, giggles, paddling, sensations, landscapes … water skiing, wakeboarding or wakesurfing on Lake Annecy are a great experience for learning to tame the waves.

Learn about fishing at Lake Annecy by learning more about the diversity of the lake’s fish while contemplating the beauty of the landscapes. If you are on vacation, there are permits for day fishing, for 7 or 15 days. If you already have your fishing license, know that two types of fishing are practiced on Lake Annecy: shore fishing and boat fishing.

Snorkeling, Apnea and Scuba Diving
Lake Annecy is perfect for exploring the seabed . Whether it’s snorkeling / snorkeling, snorkeling or scuba diving.

Aquatic plants, shells & crustaceans, and fish by the thousands such as pike, trout or arctic char, inhabit the lake and are part of its underwater beauty.

Its other wealth: lake archaeological sites which are in fact the ruins of ancient lake towns and other prehistoric villages still visible. 3 of these pile-dwelling sites are classified as UNESCO World Heritage. Other wonders sleep under Lake Annecy like the wreck of France at 42 meters deep…

Water Walk
Would you like a walk with your feet in the water? Strengthen your immune defenses and bring a “detox” action to your body with the aquatic walk at Lake Annecy. This outing allows cardiovascular and muscular strengthening thanks to the resistance of the water, without joint trauma. The evolution in water provides a relaxing effect and helps relieve stress.

Boating and Beaches
A dozen beaches border the lake for the greatest happiness of all. In a protected and green environment, facing the mountains or the iconic castles of the lake, with beach volleyball courts, deckchairs, toboggan, white sand, in the shade of trees, with or without supervision…

Sporting events

It’s a pair race with two runners and a bike. They must take turns during the 46 km around the lake.

Lake Annecy Marathon
Every year in April, the Lake Annecy marathon takes place. Participants must travel 42.195 km.

Swimming across the lake
It is organized every August 15th. There are two organized races (2400 m and 1000 m) open to license holders but also to amateurs. For the first time in 2008, the Traversée du Lac joined the circuit of the French Open Water Swimming Cup. In addition to the two usual races, a new 5 km route will be reserved for license holders.

The fishing recreation on Lake Annecy is the most important activity in number of practitioners: 1200 fishermen exercise their leisure boats and about 600 fishing near the edge. This activity is managed by the Annecy Lac Pêche association located in the Marquisats. The association is responsible for fish management and the distribution of fishing licenses; its activity is not limited to fishing and it is an important player in the protection of the environment and its environment.

Cultural activities

Lake Festival
It is a pyrotechnic show that takes place on the first Saturday in August, considered one of the largest fireworks in Europe. It is pulled from the lake, opposite the Pâquier in Annecy. Pay stands are installed, but it is visible from the heights and surrounding towns. Over 40,000 entrance tickets are sold (bleachers and lawns) and more than 150,000 people attend the event from the shores of the lake, the surrounding hills and mountains or the boats gathered behind the fire area artifice.

The origin of this festival dates back to the annexation of the Duchy of Savoy to France and the visit of the Emperor Napoleon III and the Empress Eugenie, notably in Annecy on June 29, 1860. A lakeside festival is organized by the city: it is the beginning of the Fête du Lac. Over the years, this festival will take on different aspects to become, from 1950, a major tourist event like the one we know today.

Regional Observatory of the alpine lakes
It is located at the Musée-Château d’Annecy in the old town. It is a permanent exhibition on the lakes of the French Alps and in particular on Lake Annecy. We discover the different types of lake, their population, fauna and flora. Also on display are objects from the past, sometimes distant (prehistoric times) discovered by the lake.


Village in the heart of two large ski areas, Saint-Jean-de-Sixt welcomes beginner skiers of all ages. Nearby, the alpine areas of Grand-Bornand and La Clusaz offer a varied slide for all levels of skiing.

Saint Jean de Sixt is the ideal starting point to discover the magnificent Massif des Aravis. By snowshoeing, skis, sled or even on foot, you will have the opportunity to access our many breathtaking panoramas.

Le Grand-Bornand
A true ideal for a skier, the concept of a “great ski village” finds its most striking illustration here. Its chalets, 400 of them dating from the 17th century, stand side by side with leisure facilities worthy of the greatest altitude destinations.

The freestyle culture is nourished there by a very lively agro-pastoral tradition and the farms that are passed down from father to son now stand side by side with the most cozy addresses. With these strengths, “arty” as much as possible if only through the painting it composes, against the backdrop of the Aravis range and a stone’s throw from Lake Annecy, Le Grand-Bornand has been able to elevate the culture of paradox in the rank of art. An art of living in the mountains. Different, fully. Contemplatives finding in its unspoiled valleys the rare luxury of a saving retreat, when those fond of strong emotions benefit from an event dynamic regularly cited in reference with, this winter, the organization of the BMW-IBU Biathlon World Cup Annecy -Le Grand-Bornand and “Glisse en Cœur”, the No. 1 charity event in the French mountains.

La Clusaz
Reference alpine destination, La Clusaz is an authentic village, known and recognized in France and abroad. Over the decades, it has forged a unique identity thanks to its playground and warm welcome. A true experience that will not leave you indifferent: a clever mix of the art of living in the mountains and modern and connected pop / snow culture. La Clusaz animates a real community that knows how to share and enhance its natural, cultural, architectural and gastronomic heritage. It seduces thanks to its preserved environment, its welcoming and passionate inhabitants and traders, its creative and festive events, its ski offer and its accessible and varied activities.

Thanks to its proximity to the international airports of Geneva and Lyon, La Clusaz is only a few hours from the largest European capitals (and a few bends from Annecy). 50 min from Geneva, 30 min from Annecy, 150 km from Lyon. La Clusaz is renowned for its incredible off-piste possibilities and distinguished by the atypical geography of its valleys. Over the years, it has become a veritable epicenter of Freeride, it is not surprising to see that the resort is a real breeding ground for champions of all generations. A pioneer resort in freestyle skiing since the end of the 80s, it is a world reference in “Freeski” and cultivates this culture through the federating community LCZ.

La Clusaz is one of the epicentres of ski touring in France and the resort adapts to the demands of its practitioners but also to the curiosity of its visitors. However, above all, she wishes to guide skiers drawn to wilder terrain step by step. No question of going off the slopes without going through the “learning” box. Thanks to the various programs offered by the resort’s service providers, you will be able to train in safety but also discover the activity for a day in peace. And if you hang in, you’ll come back for sure. Because the Aravis are a hiker’s paradise…

With the advent of trail running and well-being, cross-country skiing has seen its number of practitioners increase in its last years. Authentic, ecological, sporty too, Nordic skiing has been able to renew itself. Today we can speak of a trendy activity, skiing in nature and fitness. This ancient sport also has a major asset: the framework of its practice. Often in the heart of wild and silent nature, it allows you to disconnect from your daily life. Nordic skiing offers an exhilarating change of scenery. One of the unmissable and surprising experiences in La Clusaz is of course après-ski: from 3 p.m., on the slopes and in the village, the many mountain restaurants and bars come alive to welcome the first revelers. After a beautiful day of skiing in the Aravis, you don’t wait for the stars to party… Trendy resort, La Clusaz is renowned for its good atmosphere and for its long, unexpected evenings.

A resort on a human scale, you will discover all the pleasures of the mountain. Children make their first discoveries of snow. Families, skiers and snowboarders glide freely and discover the 220 km of slopes in the Aravis area.

A resort on a human scale, you will discover all the pleasures of the mountain. Children make their first discoveries of snow. Families, Skiers and snowboarders glide freely: the most experienced can discover the 220 km of slopes in the Aravis area. In summer, Manigod shines in all its colors. The valley dotted with its hamlets will remind you of the life of yesteryear. Along the 140 km of marked trails, you will meet alpine farms…

Tags: France