Annecy: Of Colorful Canals and Inadvertent Carnival Crashing

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It was my own fault, really.

I had planned a Sunday visit to Annecy, a charming French town only a few hours from Geneva. That Friday, while riding the bus to work, I overheard someone talking about a “festival in Annecy” that weekend. Since I was going to be in Annecy then, I wondered what they were talking about and made a mental note to consult Google later. Except, of course, I forgot all about the conversation and didn’t actually look into the situation.

Flash forward two days, when I arrived in Annecy only to find…mobs of tourists. It turned out that it was Carnival weekend, aka Annecy’s own version of Venice’s famed celebration (appropriate, as Annecy – situated among canals – is called the Venice of France).

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In a way, winding up in Annecy on Carnival weekend was wonderful, as there were elaborately costumed townspeople wandering all over, posing for tourists and showing off their gorgeous gem-encrusted masks and gowns. In another way, however, being in Annecy during Carnival was decidedly less awesome. I had wanted to visit because Annecy looked quaint and picturesque, with its vibrantly-hued buildings perched along quiet canals. And though the city still retained its beauty, it was a lot harder to admire said beauty when surrounded by throngs of tourists at every corner.

Given how crowded it was, I knew I needed to escape the city’s narrow streets for a while. I made for the lakefront area, which, while still fairly busy, provided less claustrophic conditions. Plus, the sun was beaming down on us that afternoon, so the lakeside area was clearly the most pleasant place to be, whether you wanted to be sunbathing on the docks, eating a sandwich on the benches dotting the lakefront, or zipping along on rollerblades down the pathway.

I left with mixed feelings about Annecy. It was a lovely town, and I was glad to have visited. That said, when you expect a lazy, relaxed afternoon in a cute little French town, it’s tough not to feel disappointed when those hopes are trampled – both figuratively and literally – by the mobs of people. I’m not sure if I will have a chance to visit Annecy again, but if life does throw the opportunity my way – well, you can be certain I will not be going on Carnival weekend.

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5 thoughts on “Annecy: Of Colorful Canals and Inadvertent Carnival Crashing

  1. That’s definitely the downside of traveling during festivals – you get to see something special, but maybe you’ll miss the actual city! I had a similar experience in Valencia, Spain, when I went for the Fallas festival. I had a great time, but it was jam-packed and impossible to see the city.

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