When we decided to visit the French Alps with our kids in summer, we instantly knew we should visit Annecy, France. Located just north of the Massif Des Bauges UNESCO Global Geopark, Annecy and its namesake lake has a stunning natural mountain setting.
As it can get very hot in summer, it’s no surprise that Lake Annecy is is very popular place to visit in France with kids in summer. With its beautiful canals, beaches, surrounding mountains and a charming old town, there’s so many things to do in Annecy with kids.
During our time in Annecy with kids, we spent time at the beach (of course), but we also enjoyed some excellent hiking and we cycled all the way around the lake. The town of Annecy itself is quite stunning, so we enjoyed exploring the beautiful streets and canals of this beautiful resort town in the French Alps.
If you are considering visiting Annecy with kids, we hope the following will provide some inspiration for your family vacation in France.
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8 Best Things to do in Annecy with Kids
1. Gorges du Fier
Gorges du Fier is one of the most fun family walks you’ll ever do in France, or anywhere. A very easy hike near Annecy, the Gorges du Fier is a short walk through a towering slot canyon. This alone would make it very beautiful and interesting, but it’s even better as you explore the canyon by walking on elevated boardwalks 20-30 metres above the river below!
The boardwalk section of the Gorges du Fier walk is surprisingly long, measuring over 250 meters / 850 feet. At times the slot canyon is so tight, you’ll be able to reach out and touch the other side of the canyon wall.
One of the most fun things to do with kids at the Gorges du Fier is to look for shapes of faces and animals within the rock formations on the canyon walls. There are interpretive signs at the far end of the gorge highlighting some of the more famous sights within the canyon, but they also help you out by painting blue feet on the boardwalk. Stand in the blue feet and let your imagination run wild – you’ll be amazed at what your eyes will see!
At the end of the elevated boardwalk through the Gorges du Fier, you can continue your walk along the top of the another limestone canyon called the Mer des Roches. The Fier River flows through a series of smaller channels in the canyon below. Take some time to admire the power of nature which formed this amazing canyon along the Fier River.
Located just 25 minutes outside of Annecy, France, the Gorges du Fier is a day trip you won’t soon forget and is a must-do attraction with kids in Annecy. It’s an incredibly popular short hike near Annecy, so be sure to get there as early in the day as you can to secure a parking spot.
2. Gorges du Fier Add-on Hike
As incredible as the kid-friendly Gorges du Fier walk was, we were disappointed with how short it was. We had found a hike on AllTrails called Gorges du Fier which showed it was 7 km long, when in fact the entire length of the slot canyon hike was closer to just 1 km.
We managed to track down the trailhead for the other hike in the area and decided to give it a shot. The trailhead is just behind the Au Bon Refuge restaurant near the main parking lot for the Gorges du Fier trail.
We really had no idea what to expect along this unnamed hike near the Gorges du Fier attraction, but we ended up really enjoying it. We hardly encountered another living soul on this trail – just a cute little bunny hopping through the forest.
And, wow, what an amazing forest it was! We were continually commenting on what a beautiful forest we were hiking through and the variety of different ground covers beneath the giant trees was amazing. The dappled light through the canopy of leaves overhead was simply breathtaking.
Towards the end of the hike, there’s a small viewpoint overlooking a canyon with a pretty unimpressive waterfall. To be fair, our visit to Annecy with kids was at the tail end of one of the worst heat waves in French history, so perhaps the waterfall is more impressive in wetter times?
Regardless, we were very pleased with our family hike through a beautiful forest near the ever-popular Gorges du Fier boardwalks.
3. The Pont Perrière Bridge of Annecy
Annecy has been called the ‘Venice of France’ due to its beautiful and highly photogenic canals which run through old town. It’s a joy to aimlessly explore old town Annecy with your kids making new and exciting discoveries around every turn. Annecy is such a photogenic town that you can have endless fun just wandering the streets and getting lost.
But, as much fun as wandering the charming streets of Annecy is, you’ll need to make your way to the Pont Perriere bridge. This famous Annecy bridge is, of course, where you can get the postcard-worthy picture which this French Alps resort town is so famous for.
Looking west from Pont Perriere bridge is where you can get a picture of the famous Annecy canals for yourself. The sight of two beautiful canals running on either side of Le Palais de I’Île is something you can’t miss while in Annecy. Without question, Pont Perriere is a very busy bridge, but with patience you’ll get to the side and get some amazing pictures to remember your family trip to Annecy.
4. Jardins de l’Europe
To escape the craziness of Annecy, take a short walk through old town to the Jardins de l’Europe to see the beauty of Lake Annecy. This waterfront Annecy park offers wonderful views of Lake Annecy and her surrounding mountains.
We recommend a walk along the waterfront promenade all the way through the Jardins de l’Europe park until you reach the Pont des Amours. There’s a fun playground here to let your kids just be kids (which remains important, even when you are on a family vacation to France).
After the playground and a stop along the Pont des Amours, make your way back through the middle of the well-treed Jardins de l’Europe. It’s fun to people watch and to enjoy the interesting artwork scattered throughout this popular waterfront Annecy park. Many pieces of art are interactive for kids – they can go inside, sit under it, etc.
5. Pont des Amours
As with the Pont Perriere bridge, the Pont des Amours is another must-visit bridge in Annecy. This time, you’ll enjoy beautiful scenery on both sides of the bridge: Lake Annecy surrounded by the French Alps to the east, while a picturesque canal lined with rowboats is to the west.
6. Cycling the Lake Annecy Loop
Almost half of our family trip to France is devoted to cycling tours. We cycled the La Dolce Via with our kids earlier in our France vacation, and we ended it with a family cycle tour in Alsace. So, when we discovered that you can cycle all the way around Lake Annecy with your kids, we knew we had to do it!
There are many bike rental shops in Annecy, but we chose to rent our bikes for our ride around Lake Annecy from Yaka Peddler. We chose this Annecy bike rental shop as they are conveniently located one block from the Lake Annecy bike path and they had good bike rentals for kids, with 20” and 24” options available.
The Lake Annecy cycle loop is an extremely popular thing to do in Annecy with kids. We saw a steady stream of families out for a scenic bike ride the entire way around the lake. It’s popular with everyone else too with large numbers of road cyclists, e-bikers and people on electric scooters.
The Lake Annecy trail is very busy the entire way around the lake. Due to the amount of people enjoying the Lake Annecy loop, it’s important your kids know basic trail etiquette as you will be passed by much faster bikers throughout the day.
Cycling around Lake Annecy with kids is a very enjoyable outing. Many parts of the cycle path hug the shores of the lake and are incredibly scenic. You’ll pass by many lake beaches and recreation areas which are perfect places to stop with kids. A decent portion of the bike trail follows the path of an old railway line, which leads your family through a (well-lit) former railroad tunnel! A big thrill for the kids!
As much as we enjoyed cycling Lake Annecy with our kids, our one wish was that more of the trail was closer to the lake – there are long sections where you can’t see the lake at all. The surrounding mountain scenery steps in to fill the void in these instances, but you just can’t beat cycling along the shore of this beautiful lake in the French Alps.
Tips for Cycling Lake Annecy with Kids
You may be wondering if your family can cycle the full route all the way around Lake Annecy. Here is what families need to know about cycling around Lake Annecy with kids:
One Big Hill
There is one major hill for cyclists to contend with along the Lake Annecy cycle loop. It begins about 4 km outside of Annecy and lasts for 7 km, ending just outside of Menthon-Saint-Bernard. Over the course of the 7 km, you’ll gain roughly 100 m of elevation. It’s not overly steep, it’s just a long hill which may tire out little legs.
Sharing the Road with Cars
There is a section through the town of Menthon-Saint-Bernard where the bike trail ends and you must cycle on the road. We were not comfortable cycling these very busy, narrow streets with our children, so we simply walked our bikes the 5-7 blocks which we felt were too dangerous.
There is a much shorter, major downhill section outside of Menthon-Saint-Bernard. Essentially, you lose all the elevation you just gained over a 2 km downhill section. This downhill section is also on the highway, but the road is a along series of switchbacks, so the cars can’t go very fast. It’s essential you can trust your kids to stick to the side of the road as there is a lot of traffic on this road.
The scenic bike trail around Lake Annecy is roughly 38 km / 23.5 miles long with 460 m / 1,500 feet of elevation gain. To give you an idea, we completed our family bike ride around Lake Annecy in 3 hours and 20 minutes (plus time for water and lunch breaks). We didn’t stop at any beaches for swimming or a picnic, but there are many great options along the route.
7. Le Taillefer Hike
Whenever we visit an area as beautiful as Annecy, France, we can’t resist going for a family hike to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. After much research, we discovered the La Taillefer hike is the best kid-friendly hike in Annecy.
The fun began before we even started the hike. After parking our rental car, we noticed that we were right by the train tunnel from our family bike ride around Lake Annecy. At the tail end of the tunnel is a cluster of bright pink flowers. Within these flowers, we thought we saw the tiniest hummingbirds we’ve ever seen, but it turns out that there are no hummingbirds in Europe.
These beautiful creatures were Hummingbird Hawk Moths – a species of moths so named due to their striking similarity to hummingbirds! We found them in these flowers two days in a row, so who knows – you may too! Please treat these beautiful creatures with respect and do not disturb them.
When you look at Lake Annecy on a map, it’s got a bit of an ‘S’ shape. The La Taillefer hike is located at the southernmost bend in the lake, taking your family up the ridge of a small mountain. Walking along a ridge affords you views in both directions, which is incredible when you are hiking in a location as beautiful as Lake Annecy.
The La Taillefer hike begins as a paved trail, with many religious shrines placed along the side of the trail. About 400 m into the hike, there’s a small spur trail to the Grotte Notre-Dame du Lac where you’ll find a religious shrine inside a cave.
Even if religious shrines are not your cup of tea, it’s worth a quick visit as the view across the lake towards Annecy is amazing. You’ll also enjoy views of the two amazing chateaus in the area: Château de Duingt and Château d’Héré.
Beyond the Grotte Notre-Dame du Lac, the La Taillefer trail ceases to be paved and becomes a real hiking trail. The forest along this kid-friendly Lake Annecy hiking trail is indescribably beautiful. It is so lush and covered in vibrant moss, that it reminded me of hiking in Kyoto with kids.
The hiking trail begins uphill and stays that way until the halfway point. The hike begins with several switchbacks, but there are several viewpoints along the way to stop and catch your breath and soak in the views of this beautiful lake in the French Alps. Along the way you’ll encounter a beautiful statue of St. Michael slaying a demon – pretty random for a hiking trail, but pretty cool too!
After 1.4 km of hiking along the La Taillefer trail, you’ll find yourself on the ridge of the small mountain. I love hiking along ridges as you can look down in both directions, effectively doubling your views for the same amount of effort!
The hiking trail starts to get steep in spots, with some very manageable mini-rock scrambles that kids love. Due to the prevalence of rocks along the trail, we recommend real hiking shoes for this hike if you have them.
As you get higher along the La Taillefer hiking trail, you’ll enjoy views of the southern end of Lake Annecy as well as the charming little town to the north of the ridge, called Les Maisons. As you near the end of the ridge section of the hike, the forest disappears on your left-hand side and is replaced by a very steep drop-off. The views here towards the end of the lake are quite amazing.
This opening also marks the spot where the hiking trail transitions to a double-wide track with hardly any rocks underfoot, making it much easier to walk on. Being double-wide makes it a great trail for family hikes as two people can hike side-by-side, making family conversations much easier.
After you pass the steep drop off, the La Taillefer trail turns west and starts heading back down. You’ll walk down a series of switchbacks, before turning north as you start the second half of the loop, back towards the trailhead.
Soon, you’ll leave the forest behind as you enter Les Maisons, the charming village you saw from above. From Les Maisons, it’s a super-easy, enjoyable family walk down to your car via easy countryside trails. As you near the bottom, you’ll pass right by Château d’Héré, affording you some excellent close-up views of this stately French manor.
We loved the duality of this kid-friendly Annecy hike – a lush forest ridge trail for the first half, followed by a delightful walk through the French countryside for the second half. If you are looking for a scenic kid-friendly hike near Annecy, we thoroughly enjoyed and recommend the La Taillefer hiking trail.
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8. Saint Jorioz Beach
You can’t visit a lake town in the French Alps with kids and not take them to the beach, so we made room in our Annecy itinerary for some family fun at the lake. There are many beaches around the lake to choose from, but only one of them stands out as a very kid-friendly Lake Annecy beach.
We chose to visit Saint Jorioz beach as it is the only beach on Lake Annecy that has a sand beach. Yes, it seems like the sand was imported here, but your kids won’t care. It’s nice and soft to walk and sit on, plus your kids will love that the sand is an excellent quality sand for building sand castles, burying each other, etc.
There are many reasons Saint Jorioz beach is a kid-friendly Lake Annecy beach. For starters, there’s a nice shady playground for when your children need a break from the sun.
For bigger kids, there’s a three-level diving platform just outside the roped-in swimming area. There’s a snack bar loaded with all sorts of beach food favorites such as ice cream, hot dogs and hamburgers.
While your kids have a great time playing in the sand and water at Saint Jorioz Beach, adults can enjoy the spectacular mountain views across Lake Annecy. There’s also occasional wildlife visits, such as families of swans and ducks.
If you are looking for a kid-friendly beach near Annecy, we recommend Saint Jorioz beach.
Where to Stay in Annecy with Kids
Being the biggest resort town along Lake Annecy makes staying in Annecy a natural choice for many families. Although, if you prefer something more relaxing, there are a variety of smaller villages scattered around the beautiful mountain lake.
Although there are many good family-friendly hotels in Annecy and area, we elected to rent an apartment. When we travel with kids, we prefer vacation rentals as we value the kid-friendly amenities such as kitchens, laundry facilities and separate bedrooms.
We rented a small house in Annecy just a block away from the train station. It was close enough to the Annecy old town, restaurants and the beach that we could walk everywhere in town, yet it was far enough from the craziness that it was nice and quiet.
We hope you enjoy your trip to Annecy with kids as much as we did! Next stop for us on our family trip to France was a visit to Chamonix with kids.