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Annecy to Lausanne or Italy?


Can anyone tell me how easy it is to drive to Lausanne or just over the border into Italy when coming from Annecy? My family and I will be staying in Annecy and we have never been to the region before. We thought it might be fun to go over to Switzerland and/or Italy for the day to add it to our list of countries we've been too, but we were wondering if it is worth it. Any other suggestions of nice day trips in the Annecy area would be recommended. It is for a summertime holiday with three kids (13, 11, 7). Many thanks.

Posted by
16770 posts

Driving to Lausanne is easy, with normally no border controls. Driving to Italy would probably be via the rather long and expensive Mont Blanc Tunnel, or there’s an alternate route that takes longer (e.g., 3.5 hours to Aosta).

Posted by
16846 posts

If you drive on Swiss highways, you'll first need to stop and purchase a Swiss highway vignette. I believe it costs CHF 40 (about $42.50). Whichever country you choose, do some research on rules of the road so you don't become yet another poster who gets a bunch of expensive traffic tickets in the mail months after returning home.

Posted by
33 posts

Annecy is beautiful! May I chime in on a day trip suggestion based on the age of your entourage (13, 11, 7)? Looking back on trips I’ve spent dragging my son through Europe through his formative years, I have a pretty good idea what makes for a good outing with kids. In under two hours from Annecy, you can be in Gruyeres, Switzerland just past Lausanne.

Gruyeres has some great things to do with kids that are hands on, entertaining and tasty! Start at the Gruyere Swiss cheese factory. It has this crazy interactive factory tour including a smell-o-vision display explaining how things eaten by cows affect the cheese. It was incredibly fun, informative and came with plenty of samples. Then head down the hill to Maison Caiiler Chocolate factory. This is another really family friendly interactive experience that you walk through as you explore the origins of cacao and the making of chocolate. (Find out why good chocolate snaps.) It’s really well done and comes with more samples than you can eat. For the sci-fi fans, there is the HR Giger Museum (creator of “Alien” ) to explore. Gruyere itself is a wonderful walled city including a castle that’s worth a stumble through. It’s filled with quintessential belled cows munching grass, fondue restaurants and don’t be surprised if you see a herd of deer wander by. It will give you a Swiss fix while keeping your kids happy and busy doing fun things instead of just looking at architecture and museums.

I hope you have a wonderful time! It’s an extraordinary corner of the world. Cheers!

Posted by
393 posts

As noted, you can go to Lausanne through Geneve along the main highway -- Swiss highway driving is among the most civilized in the world. The most scenic stretch along the Lake however is further on past through the Lavaux Vinyards and to the lakeside Chateau du Chillon.

I also enjoy the ferries that ply the path along the same "Swiss Riviera" route between Lausanne and Montreaux -- as the ferry rounds the corner you get a great view up through the Valais valley. Your kids may enjoy the Olympic Museum in Lausanne (in the Ouchy neighborhood by the lake, which was my old neighborhood when I lived there).

A longer return (or the path there) is via the Valais and through Martigny, past the Emmoson Dam (very good restaurant there for mountain fondue there with a spectacular view, also a trail with dinosaur footprints) and over the pass and down through Chamonix (which in itself is a great day trip, with the lifts up to Mt Blanc). There is also a scenic train that runs the same route. However this is a very long route to Lausanne (3hrs)

You can also day trip to Geneve or continue to Yvoire, a lovely old village on the lake (french side).

As acraven mentioned, there are speed cameras all along the route (and surface streets, including along the main routes into Lausanne) and the Swiss traffic fines after a certain speed are famously tied to income. A vignette is always included in your Swiss rental car but may not be included in your French side rental.

Posted by
393 posts

If you do choose to go to Gruyeres, there is also a fun summer bobsleigh/luge course at Molseon-sur-Gruyeres, just beyond the hill village, if you want to burn off some energy. It's like a gravity fed rollercoaster. They also have free-form gravity go-karts that run down the ski slopes. There is a similar course at Semnoz near Annecy. There are also a number of "parc aventure" which are ropes and zip line courses with levels for all ages -- some have better views than others (like the one near Annecy).

Posted by
1450 posts

hey hey davekatevy
we spent 6 nights in annecy and really love it. a small town with villages around the lake.
we hired a private taxi tour to see the villages around the lake.
went to ferme de la charbonniere, a working dairy farm with restaurant above the cow stall you can see thru the clear glass walls and floors. try their raclette or reblochon cheese. set menu to choose from. totally french food
col de la forclaz, small village with gorgeous views and mountains with lots of hang gliders soaring right past you, cows roaming the green pastures with bells around their necks, lovely old style homes, stopped for a view and snack, had to buy a real cowbell in memory of my mom, a cowgirl growing up a ranch in hawaii. anyone want to hang glide? a shuttle tour around the small town, pointing out attractions.
chateau-de-menthon. legend has it walt disney visited and was his inspiration for sleeping beauty castle in disneyland. to visit annecy it's known as the "venice of the alp", village old town (vielle ville). shops, cafes, restaurants, small canals and winding cobbletones streets to walk along, sightsee/people watch, "free" entertainment, farmers market (tuesday, friday, sunday) lake and kids activities across the street, palais de i'ile (splits river thiou into 2 canals) a museum now, built as a prison, later courthouse and lord's residence. had a fondue lunch at rotisserie du thiou, pizza and calzones at al vesuvio outside table, crepes at creperie-ti-mad on rue royale.
le gourmande on rue de paix. a cute cute shop with cookies, candy and bisquits. packed up a box of goodies plus flavored marshmallow stixs, fruit gems and fruit jam packed inside a french cookie to bring back to states
check for renting boats/bikes to ride around lake, swimming in lake, boat cruises.
we flew to paris took a train to geneva, taxi to annecy and train back to paris. since you are driving others can advise you. you do have kids that may slow you down at times, "picky eaters", children activities to make all happy. hope this gives you some info to help out. enjoy