Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France’s Stunning Lake Annecy
Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Charting Your Route Around the Lake
Lake Annecy offers over 43 miles of stunning cycling paths to explore, making it a premier destination for a family bike trip. With so many potential routes, planning out your journey around the lake is key to an enjoyable experience for riders of all levels.
The ride around Lake Annecy follows the Cycle Path of the Lake, a paved path that circumnavigates the entire lake and passes through idyllic villages and alpine landscapes. A complete loop is about 43 miles, but the trail can be ridden in sections. Most cyclists opt to ride clockwise, which follows the direction of the road traffic and allows you to get the hardest climbs out of the way first.
For families with younger children, the southern portion of the loop from Annecy to Duingt is relatively flat and manageable for beginner cyclists. It passes beaches where you can stop for a refreshing swim. From Duingt to Talloires, the terrain gets hillier but rewards with gorgeous views of the lake and mountains. Families with older children can continue the loop over the Semnoz pass, but be prepared for a challenging 5-mile climb.
Alternatively, you can base yourself in Annecy and take shorter rides along the western coast up to Menthon-Saint-Bernard or east towards the beautiful Château de Duingt. Out-and-back rides to quaint villages like Saint-Jorioz or Sevrier are fun as well. Many cyclists also take the path up past Talloires for spectacular views at Roc de Chère before turning back.
What else is in this post?
- Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Charting Your Route Around the Lake
- Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Top Spots for Taking in Alpine Views
- Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Kid-Friendly Rides and Trails
- Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Planning Stops for Swimming and Picnicking
Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Top Spots for Taking in Alpine Views
A bike trip around Lake Annecy offers numerous breathtaking vistas of the surrounding Alpine peaks and glaciers. While the entire loop provides picture-perfect views, there are a few noteworthy spots to stop and take in the majestic mountain scenery.
One top recommendation is to pause your pedaling at the Pic de la Sambuy lookout point, located on the Cycle Path between Menthon-Saint-Bernard and Talloires. From this vista, you can take in a spectacular 180-degree panorama encompassing the Aravis mountain range, Lake Annecy, and the fortress town of Montmélian in the distance. Gaze at the jagged, snow-capped peaks while enjoying a picnic lunch or coffee break. Then hop back in the saddle for the exhilarating downhill ride into Talloires.
Further along, the climb up to the Col de Leschaux rewards cyclists with an incredible elevated view overlooking the town of Annecy and its historic, canal-laced old town. It’s a tough but gratifying ascent. At the top, you can celebrate your accomplishnent while soaking in the scenery from 1,200 meters up.
For a majestic mountain view combined with a refreshing lake swim, pedal to the Plage d’Albigny beach on the eastern side of the lake. Relax on the shoreline with the spectacular backdrop of Le Semnoz massif reflected on the calm, blue-green waters of the lake. Let the kids splash and play while you connect with the natural beauty all around.
Finally, for a child-friendly stop, go forice cream or crepes at the Cafe du Semnoz along the road up to the pass. Kids will love the treats and grown-ups will love admiring the panorama of mountains framed perfectly through the windows. It's a sweet opportunity to fuel up while gazing at snow-dusted Alpine scenery.
Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Kid-Friendly Rides and Trails
When planning a bike trip with children around Lake Annecy, considering kid-friendly routes and trails is key to keeping the ride enjoyable for all ages. The good news is that the area offers plenty of options for beginner cyclists and families with a range of skill levels.
For those with very young children or first-time riders, start with the Piste Cyclable path heading west from Annecy to Menthon-Saint-Bernard. This paved, lakeside trail is flat, wide, and well-marked with mileage signs. Ride at a leisurely pace, stopping for picnics and playgrounds in villages along the way like Veyrier-du-Lac or Talloires. Let kids set the pace while taking in views of historic châteaux and paddleboaters on the shimmering lake.
Slightly older or more adventurous riders can continue along the Voie Verte, or greenway, from Talloires to Doussard. Beautifully maintained paths wind through forests and meadows at a gradual incline, with interpretive signs identifying local plants and wildlife. Glimpse waterfalls trickling down from the mountains as you pedal past. Consider breaking up the ride with a hike to the Gorges du Fier, an impressive gorge with suspension bridges perfect for burning off extra kid energy.
Families with confident cyclists can ride the hillier loop from Annecy towards Duingt along Chemin des Ozières, stopping for lake swims at child-friendly beaches like Albigny. For tweens and teens seeking a challenge, make the rewarding 5-mile climb up Col de la Forclaz for spectacular panoramic views. Then cruise downhill and reward their effort with lunch on a shady terrace in Quintal or Saint-Jorioz.
Regardless of ability, kids will love the trail to Glières Plateau for its WWII history and scenic views. Visit the moving memorial and restored farmhouse used by the French Resistance. Allow time to explore ruins and bunkers hidden along the trail before descending back to town.
Pedal Through Paradise: Plan an Unforgettable Family Bike Trip Around France's Stunning Lake Annecy - Planning Stops for Swimming and Picnicking
Pedaling around the crystalline waters of Lake Annecy on a warm summer day naturally lends itself to taking cooling swims and leisurely picnic breaks. Planning stops for these activities makes the ride even more enjoyable for the whole family.
Swimming in Lake Annecy is a quintessential part of the cycling experience. The lake maintains a refreshing temperature in the low 70s Fahrenheit from June through September. Its clean, clear waters make for excellent swimming and paddling. Families can stop to take a dip at any of the small public beaches dotted along the Cycle Path. Popular options include Plage d'Albigny, Plage de la Brune, and Plage d'Impérial Palace. These grassy areas offer direct lake access and most have play areas, volleyball courts,lifeguards, and snack bars for convenience. Pack your swimsuits and goggles and be prepared to hop in the water anytime the kids get hot!
Incorporating relaxing picnic stops is another key to keeping kids content on longer rides. Pack a hearty lunch with items that travel well, like sandwiches, fruit, veggies and dip, crackers and cheese, and juice boxes. For snacks, trail mix, granola bars, and dried fruit are easy finger foods. Stop in shady parks or grassy areas along your route to refuel. Lovely lakeside spots for picnicking include Parc de la Tour in Annecy, the public beach in Saint-Jorioz, or under the trees in Menthon-Saint-Bernard.
Many cyclists also plan picnic stops at the compelling historical sites around the lake. Grounds of medieval chateaux like Château de Duingt or Château de Montrottier make memorable picnic settings. The kids can explore castle ruins while adults take in the architecture and vineyards. A grassy park area below Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard has picnic tables conveniently located right along the cycling path.
Restaurants and cafes around the lake also often allow picnicking on their outdoor terraces if you want to buy food while pedaling. Stop for sandwiches at a boulangerie in the morning and enjoy them later with a lake view at a cafe. In Talloires, Roc Café’s terrace is perfect for an early lunch after working up an appetite cycling over from Menthon-Saint-Bernard.
Leave room for ice cream, crepes, or other treats from lakeside cafes to motivate kids on hillier sections of the ride. Promise a chocolate crêpe at Le Carrousel Creperie in Duingt after climbing up from Annecy. Or a apéro session at Café des Sports’ patio in Saint-Jorioz can be a parenting win after miles of “are we there yet?” Help kids envision the tasty rewards that lie ahead around the next bend.