Annecy is a coveted destination: Its famous Christmas market, picturesque bridge, pastel-colored houses, and river views draw people from all over the world to it.
Part of its charm is that its relative remoteness at the foot of the Alps has left it somewhat unchanged. It retains the spirit of a small town and has not yet caved in to the troubles of overtourism. However, this also means that it is not the easiest town to get to, and that you might have to do some planning before arriving.
The best places to set out from are Paris and Lyon. Both have direct trains and buses to the Annecy station and are relatively close by car.
Car travel can also be done in six hours or less from southern cities like Montpellier, Marseille, and Nice. Other major cities would require a longer time commitment.
Private transfer is, of course, a convenient option, but is not available from everywhere. We would recommend this option only if you are within the region.
Finally, you can take the bus from most anywhere in the country. However, you will probably have to connect in Lyon. For this reason, we'd also recommend the bus only from towns and cities that are nearby.
For the fun without the hassle, join this 10-day adventure through the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.
Duration: 2-4 hours
You can take a direct train from Paris at the Gare de Lyon, or leave from Lyon from either the airport Saint-Exupery station or from the Part-Dieu station in downtown. The journey takes around 3:40 hours from Paris and 2:30 hours from Lyon.
If you are leaving from either of these cities, the train is definitely one of the best options. However, if you are coming from another city, even major ones in the south of France, you will have to make transfers, and the trip could take much longer—sometimes as long as 12 hours!
Duration: 1-6 hours
France can be an incredibly scenic place to drive. If you want to cross the Alps, make random pit stops, and be the master of your own course, then renting a car will provide you with the experience of your dreams. You also won't have to worry about transferring with all your luggage.
However, travel by car is best if your point of departure is Lyon or the southeast of France. You will arrive within two hours if you start from Lyon, four from Montpellier and Marseille, and around 5:30 from Paris and Nice.
If you don't mind longer drives, then a 7-hour trip from Bordeaux will allow you a west-to-east adventure.
By Private Transfer
Duration: 1-5 hours
While private transfer is usually safe and convenient, it is not always offered as an option, particularly when the distance is long.
Companies that service routes to Annecy are mostly within the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. It is possible to find some companies willing to do the trip from the southeast of the country, but it is not very common, as Annecy is fairly small.
If you are determined to hire a car, you can always hire one to Lyon and then change to a local transfer company.
Duration: 1-4 hours
As with other options, though it is possible to take the bus to Annecy from most major cities in France, it is not recommended from outside the region.
Even from Paris and southeast France, you will most likely have to connect to Lyon and transfer to a smaller bus to Annecy. Given the town's size and somewhat remote location, this is to be expected.
The bus is a good option if you are already within the region and want to do a day trip or a weekend getaway into the fairytale-like city. We would definitely not recommend taking a bus from western cities like Nantes and Bordeaux, as you might have to do multiple transfers and the trip could take as much as 14 hours.