Annecy-le-Vieux, Haute-Savoie, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, France

Annecy-le-Vieux is a former French commune located in the department of Haute- Savoie, in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. At1 January 2017, it merges with the municipalities of Annecy, Cran-Gevrier, Meythet, Pringy and Seynod, to form a new municipality. This city, which extends beyond the north-eastern shores of Lake Annecy, has become the very residential suburb of the agglomeration of Annecy, less than 3 km from its city center.

The history of Annecy-le-Vieux begins on the shores of the lake, in Petit-Port, some 6,000 years ago. Our ancestors lived there in huts that the rising waters at the end of the Bronze Age forced them to leave.

Populations already occupied the shores of Lake Annecy between -4000 and -900 and they were mainly farmers and fishermen. The Celts Allobroges in turn occupied the territories of the Pre-Alps, the Savoy mountains and the shores of the great lakes. They very quickly had commercial contacts with the “Italian” territories. Occupied from -121, the Allobroges were definitively defeated by the Roman legions in -62 and their territory opened up to Roman colonization.

The Romans settled from -50 on the north shore of Lake Annecy, in the Plaine des Fins, at the foot of the Annecy-le-Vieux site, and founded the town of Boutae (future Annecy), which regrouped nearly 2 000 inhabitants between the II and V century; it occupied a strategic position at the crossroads of three major Roman communication routes (Italy, Geneva, Cisalpine Vienna). Around this same time, a Roman owner named Annicius – possibly from the famous and powerful family of Roman patricians, the Annici – had an important villa called Anniciaca, located on the hillside below Mount Veyrier, at the current location of the capital of Annecy-le-Vieux, from where it overlooked the Plaine des Fins and the lake. The Roman villas were in fact powerful farms which could bring together more than a hundred people.

During the Gallo-Roman period, Annecy-le-Vieux hosted many villae (farms) which supplied Boutae, the village which developed in the Plaine des Fins, from the 1st century. These farms are home to up to a hundred people living in practically autarky. According to 19 th century scholars, it is the important property of Anicius (Anniciaca), located on the site of the current capital, which would have given its name to Annecy-le-Vieux. Weakened by the invasions, the vicus of Boutae gradually abandoned in the course of the 6 th century in favor of the hill of Annecy-le-Vieux considered safer.

As of 12 th century, “the small rural capital” is supplanted by Annecy-le-Neuf that grows on rocky foothills of Semnoz near Thiou. Since then dedicated to agriculture and breeding, Annecy-le-Vieux will undergo a profound transformation after the Second World War. The town of some 2,000 souls with more than 90 farms will become a town of 21,279 inhabitants (2017 census).

With the weakening of the Roman Empire, many barbarian tribes surged through Gaul. The Burgundians occupied some time in the region and left many archaeological evidence, but too many attacks, fires, looting and killings, sounded the death knell for the Roman city of Boutae, and the VI century the population eventually completely abandon the city to take refuge on the neighboring hills. Villa Anniciaca welcomed new inhabitants and was fortified to protect its population, while continuing to live mainly from farming. The VI to the XII century, Anniciaca reached its heyday, becoming a true rural capital. From the year 1107, the new fortified town of Annecy-le-Neuf begins to gain importance, the old Anniciaca, which has become Annecy-le-Vieux, loses its hegemonic position, and returns to its agricultural occupations (vines, cereals, breeding), but retains a certain residential character, with many manors and hunting lodges, belonging to the nobles and bourgeois of Annecy-le-Neuf.

The industrial history of Annecy-le-Vieux began in 1857, when Georges Paccard set up his bell foundry under the town and continued with the mill acquired by Joseph Cléchet in 1868 which became a very important flour mill. On 65 hectares, the Glaisins economic park, opened in 1972, brings together more than 300 companies working in the IT, mechanics, electronics, high technology and banking sectors. The university field brings together an IUT, an engineering school (ESIA) and an Institute of management (IMUS) which train more than 4000 students. Without forgetting the Physics and Particle Laboratory (LAPP) inaugurated in 1976.

The residential character of the town will be confirmed in the XIX century and beginning of the XX century, when many artists come to stay or withdraw at Annecy-le-Vieux, to create, to rest and enjoy the magnificent views on the lake and the mountains: Eugène Sue, Astolphe de Custine, John Ruskin and Gabriel Fauré, among others, became faithful of the commune. In the middle of the XIX century, on the grounds of the bottom of the town, settled some industries, two flagships were Cléchet mill and foundry Paccard bells, which brought the reputation of Annecy-le-Vieux in the whole world. The “La Savoyarde” bell at the Sacré-Cœur in Paris was cast in Annecy-le-Vieux in 1891. This drone, still one of the largest in the world, weighs 18,835 kg, measures 3.06 m in height and 9.60 m in external circumference, with a thickness at the base of 22 cm, and a leaf of 850 kg.

With the attachment of Savoy to France and the arrival of the railway, French wines came to compete dangerously with the wines of Annecy-le-Vieux, but it was above all attacks from mildew, then from phylloxera, which resulted in the reduction and the complete disappearance of the wine production in the early XX century. In 1973, the inhabitants of Annecy-le-Vieux chose to remain independent and refused the merger-absorption proposed by Annecy, its neighbor and sister. At1 January 2017, it merges with the municipalities of Annecy, Cran-Gevrier, Meythet, Pringy and Seynod, to form a new municipality, named Annecy, of 121,809 inhabitants (2013 data).

The shores of the lake, the spacious Annecy-le-Vieux beach, lined with flowers, plants and trees, is one of the most frequented, and offers bathers a harmonious setting. The marina is home to 214 boats, with a launching ramp, redone in 2004. The reed beds, on the edge of the lake, are a pleasant setting for a walk. They were restored in 1999, are maintained and are the home of many birds. A lakeside path on a footbridge was created in 2003 and since early 2007, the last property (4,500 m) in the municipality with direct access to the shore has been purchased for € 4.4 million. which will allow the entire peninsula to be made public.

Historical heritage

The Romanesque bell tower of the 12 th century
It is probably one of the most beautiful listed Romanesque monuments in the whole region. Located in the historic heart of the capital, it was initially part of a church dedicated to Notre-Dame, itself built on the site of a temple dedicated to Jupiter. This building of worship was destroyed in the Revolution and a new church of St. Lawrence was built in 1849. In 1988, the restoration of the tower has revived the murals of the XV th century. There is also a 700 kg “republican” bronze bell, cast during the revolutionary period (1792) by Jean-Baptiste Pitton and classified as a historic monument in 1937.

Fortified houses and castles
Annecy-le-Vieux has a rich built heritage but the main private buildings cannot be visited.

The Villa Dunand
The composer Gabriel Fauré lived there several summers from 1919 to 1924. Many musicians came to Annecy-le-Vieux to meet the Master.

The castle of Pesse
This fortress from the XIV th century draws its name from a pesse (fir) remarkable. It was also a hunting meeting point for the Dukes of Nemours.

Château de La Cour
Magnificent residence nestled in lush greenery, which saw the birth of the “Venerable” Anne de Guigné.

The Villa La Tour
It hosted one of the most popular French writers of the XIX th century, Eugene Sue. Exiled in Savoy, this famous soap opera player spent the last years of his life in Annecy-le-Vieux.

The chapels
In the districts of Frontenex and Provins, two pretty chapels bear witness to a rich rural past.

The sublacustrine Site of the Petit Port Historic monument logo Inscribed MH (1991).
The steeple of Annecy-le-Vieux Historic monument logo Ranked MH (1908), located in the capital, novel type, it dates back to the xii th century. The Notre-Dame church, to which it belonged, was devastated during the French Revolution. It is classified as a historical monument by decree of May 7, 1908. It is a remarkable belfry with two floors of twin windows. The original church was built on the foundations of a Gallo-Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter. The bronze bell was cast in 1796 by Jean-Baptiste Pitton, traveling saint of Carouge, a town located near Geneva. Originally, it was a Republican bell, 90 cm high, 109 cm in diameter and weighing 700 kg. It is decorated with two bas reliefs, one representing a Christ on the cross, the other a virgin carrying the infant Jesus. It was classified as a historical monument in 1937.
The current Saint-Laurent church, of Sardinian neoclassical type, was built from 1849 to 1952. Its facade includes a triangular tympanum and two niches shelter the statues of Saint Laurent and Saint Francis de Sales. Inside, two clams stone, placed in the narthex from the first church. There is also a beautiful wooden Christ from the xvi th century. In 1986, the municipality had the roof and facade redone, and in 1995, the interior was also renovated. The organs are the work of organ builder Dunand de Lyon and date from 1961.
The Frontenex chapel, built in 1861 by Canon Paul-Bernard Croset-Mouchet.
The Provins chapel, built in 1877, in neo-Gothic style. Several chapels have succeeded at this location which was the subject, during celebrations of the Virgin and to the xix th century, local renowned pilgrimages. The present building houses a Pietà (Mary mourning her dead son) hidden by young people Albigny during the revolutionary days (see above xviii th century) classified historic Monument to object title.
The castle of Pesse is a beautiful house of the xiv th century and was a go hunting Dukes of Nemours. It was the possession of or of: Emyon, la Rochette, Montfalcon de Flaxieu, Viollon, Viollon de la Pesse, du Tour, Croset, Girod and Robert Friess.
The castle of the Court, built before 1419, is a former stronghold and pleasure residence from the xviii th century. The castle was owned by the Menthon family (from the origins to the Revolution) then by the Livet and Guigné families in particular. He saw the birth of Anne de Guigné (April 25, 1911 – January 14, 1922), declared “Venerable” in 1990.
The Villa de la Tour, where the writer Eugène Sue lived.
Villa Dunand and its park, where the composer Gabriel Fauré lived from 1919 until his death in 1924, now belong to the municipality. The villa houses some municipal services. Located in the capital, the Gabriel-Fauré park was restored in 2005 in the style of the time. It is a place of entertainment and festive meetings during the summer.
Café Brunet, classified as a “Historic European Café”, and known for its philosophical evenings, debate evenings and performance evenings.
The Abbey, located below the capital, is a district of the town. In fact, there has never been an abbey on the territory of Annecy-le-Vieux, nor monks, only land belonging to religious congregations. These farmlands were originally sold to the xiii th century by Count William II of Geneva, the Ladies of the Cistercian abbey of Sainte-Catherine of Semnoz. The town has restored the old farmhouse and devoted it to the graphic arts with the municipal drawing school and a contemporary art exhibition hall.

Cultural events and festivities
Here are the main entertainment offered by Annecy-le-Vieux:
Musical Gabriel Fauré
The race around the lake, “l’Ancilevienne”.
Haute-Savoie Mont Blanc Cup, 13 edition in April 2007. 750 young soccer players from six European countries.
1 nightclub and several private clubs.
L’Ancileviennerie is a traditional autumn festival organized in October.

Green space
In 2014, the regional jury for the competition for towns and villages in bloom confirmed the maintenance of the municipality’s classification in “2 flowers”.
The population has 11 parks and public gardens, not to mention the vast forest estate of the municipality: Raisses park (2 hectares), Vignières / Pommaries park (2 hectares under development), Gabriel Fauré park (6,700 m), Petit Brogny park (6,500 m), Lachat park (4,900 m), Albigny square (1,200 m), Picnic area d’Albigny (2,500 m)… The town also offers many charming paths and alleys to walk around forming a real pedestrian network linking the various territories.
A new 5-hectare space, both an urban square and a landscaped park, is at the end of its development. The project was chosen in November 2005 by the Ancilevians, among four projects, allows to connect between several districts, and includes traffic routes (cars, buses, bicycles, pedestrians), an underground car park with 180 new spaces too little used currently according to the opposition, a skatepark, an early childhood structure, a kindergarten and two hectares of landscaped park. Work began in September 2006 and should be completed in early 2008.
The Fier valley is a green and wild lung located at the northern limit of the town which it runs alongside for several kilometers. Le Fier is a torrent-river in the Haute-Savoie Prealps, which crosses the agglomeration of Annecy. Over a long distance, between the Pont de Brogny and the Pont de Tasset, the community of the agglomeration of Annecy has decided to enhance this natural environment and return it to the inhabitants. Work should start in 2007, it concerns 118 hectares of shoreline.
Mont Rampon (957 m) and Mont Veyrier (1,291 m) are rich in hiking trails offering a magnificent panorama on the lake, on the whole agglomeration of Annecy, and on the mountains (Aravis, Tournette, the Semnoz and the Glières plateau).
Mount Rampignon (894 m) offers a botanical trail of about two hours’ walk, and also allows you to have magnificent views of the city of Annecy and the lake.
In October 10, 2010, the operation “21,000 trees for 21,000 ancilevians” was launched over four years. During the first year more than 3,500 trees, mainly oaks, lime trees and junipers were planted, in public and private places.