Christmas in the French Alps in Annecy

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The lake area in Annecy covered with snow

Annecy in winter (Photo: Raphael Fournier)

Annecy is a popular tourist destination in France with many festivals and celebrations throughout the year, and amongst these festivities is Christmas. Surrounded by snow-capped mountains and with a large and glistening lake, it is the perfect setting for enjoying this time of year.

There is a romantic fairytale atmosphere in Annecy, and this feeling can be really appreciated in the depths of winter. Annecy’s “Lovers’ Bridge” looks like a Christmas card picture when the ground is white with snow.

The famous Lovers' bridge of Annecy with snow all over

Pont des Amoureux (Photo: Koen)

So Annecy is a location where you can expect a White Christmas but how does this delightful town in the French Alps otherwise go about celebrating the holiday season?

Annecy Christmas market

The Annecy Christmas market really brings the town alive in the cold winter days with decorations, illuminations, Nativity scenes and concerts. The event runs throughout the whole month of December in one way or another and is a big part of the enjoyment of an alpine Christmas in Annecy. The market is a great place to do some last minute Christmas shopping and will really get you in the holiday spirit. Mainly held in the old medieval part of town in front of the town hall, and near the  Palais de L’Isle that looks like a fairytale castle, there is a very magical feeling to the Christmas market. Christmas trees and fairy lights add to the magic of Annecy in the festive season after dark.

The Palais de L'Isle of Annecy with Christmas lights

Palais de L’Isle and Christmas lights (Photo: francois schnell)

Around 70 wooden chalets house the market stalls and here you can find local foods and wines, as well as handmade crafts from the Haute-Savoie region. The atmosphere is in keeping with traditions of the past and is not like the ugly commercial consumerism that spoils Christmas in so many modern cities. Father Christmas and his sleigh welcomes the children to Santa’s Village and completes the seasonal setting.

Annecy’s churches welcome tourists and residents alike to see the nativity displays and to listen to traditional Christmas carols or attend a service for this special time of year.

A Christmas tree and some lights around town

A Christmas tree and seasonal lighting (Photo: francois schnell)

Annecy Ice-skating rink

Annecy also has an open-air ice-skating rink where you can enjoy this traditional wintertime activity. Speaking of activities that can be enjoyed specifically in the colder part of the year, Annecy is a great location for winter sports and there are skiing resorts in villages in easy travelling distance from the town.

There are plenty of ways of enjoying your Christmas in Annecy, though fluency in French would be a big help when speaking to the local people. Incidentally, the town has its own language school where you can take a variety of courses, and it is even possible to combine skiing with learning the language of France. Annecy is a wonderful place to spend Christmas, and an excellent location for learning French and practicing your speaking skills whilst having a memorable time.

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