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Lyon vs Annecy

Spending two weeks in Southern France in June and are debating whether to spend our final two nights in France in either Lyon or Annecy before flying home out of Geneva. We have never been to this area and it will be a weekend which could make a difference
perhaps in how enjoyable these places may be. How would you choose?

Posted by
7078 posts

It really depends on what you're looking for. Annecy is a small laid-back city (@50k population) on a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. Lyon is a big busy city of @500k population with lots of 'city' things to do. Both are very nice in their own way. For me, it's Annecy hands down - one of my favorite places in France.

Posted by
2916 posts

Same as the above. While Lyon is also great, Annecy is really spectacular with its lake and surrounding mountains. And easy to see everything in a short visit. Also easy to get to Geneva, whether by car or bus.

Posted by
3210 posts

True Annecy is charming and close to Geneva but Lyon has a lot more to offer in regard to sights and history so it could also depend on your personal interests. And the food in Lyon...incomparable!

Posted by
491 posts

I haven't been to either but I've been researching them both because we'll be starting our trip there. I think it comes down to city mouse/country mouse. What do you prefer?

Annecy is romantic, gorgeous, spectacular, as the previous posters noted. According to RS, it's on "one of Europe's cleanest, clearest lakes," surrounded by mountains. You can walk, bike, boat, swim or drive to get what you want out of your stay.

Lyon is, according to RS, "France's most historic and culturally important city after Paris," as well as "one of Europe's most beautifully floodlit cities", with "the most renowned cuisine in France," "France's second-most-important fine-arts museum (after the Louvre)", and a "fascinating" Vieux Lyon.

I'm not saying Lyon is preferable to Annecy, but just wanted to give you some more to things to consider in making your decision. We couldn't say no to either.

Posted by
755 posts

Thanks everyone and Bob, you are right - very difficult to say no to either one. We are more country mouse but interested in the Fine Arts Museum in Lyon, as well as the cuisine. I have looked at hotels in Lyon, however, and it looks dismal without spending a lot as well as being close to the city center. Another RS quote that concerns me is, "Annecy is a joy before noon in any season, but high-season weekend afternoons will try your patience." Sounds like it may be worth it though!

Posted by
7078 posts

I'm certainly not disagreeing with RS about Annecy being crowded on summer weekends but from my own experience it wasn't horrible. When I was there in 2012 it was on the July 14th holiday weekend (the highest of high season) and it was definitely crowded but nothing at all like Venice, Florence, Rome, etc nor like Disneyland on a summer weekend. I don't think June would be too bad as long as you expect to see some crowds in the old town lanes. Most of the sightseeing is outdoors though so it's not like a crowded museum such as the Louvre or Vatican.

Posted by
491 posts

Everybody's standards are different of course. We thought Elysee Hotel was a good choice. "Two star comfort" (according to Rick Steves), A/C, elevator, and it is on Presqu'ile, which I think is considered the city center. M Larrive does not speak English but he was very kind and patient, helping me make a reservation despite my bad French (unless he hung up and fell on the floor laughing at the guest who just requested an ostrich and three warm socks.)

Posted by
7464 posts

I was interested in your replies because we'll be going to both places for 3 days each next September. If you would like an unusual place to stay in Lyon, check out "Mon Hôtel Particulier" which is actual separate rooms in the oldest section of Lyon. The reviews are very good from several sources - looking forward to a fun experience since I love architecture!

I would recommend staying in the town that's different from the rest of your itinerary.

Posted by
2916 posts

The last couple of times we stayed in Lyon we rented an apartment, but before that we stayed at Hotel des Artistes. I don't remember it being very pricey, and the location was excellent. In Annecy there are several worthwhile places to stay right in the center.

Posted by
11294 posts

I haven't been to Annecy so I can't compare them, but I love Lyon - my favorite place in France after Paris. I stayed at the Hotel du Theatre, and I recommend it as long as you can handle stairs (several flights to your room). It's quite inexpensive and very centrally located: http://www.hotel-du-theatre.net/index_en.php