France is undoubtedly up there as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. From the streets of Paris to the beautiful coast of the French Riviera, France is an incredibly popular tourist destination. Though people nowadays are more nervous about France, with all the news we hear of terrorist attacks, the reality is that France is still an incredibly safe country to visit. In my opinion, one of the best cities to see in France is Annecy. Though a fairly popular destination in Europe, it is certainly not a household name. Here are the top reasons you should add Annecy to your France itinerary.

The scenery

Annecy sits at the edge of one of the most pristine lakes in Europe, surrounded by towering mountains. Pictures can’t do this place justice; you could be walking through the quaint streets of the Old Town, turn a corner and see the mountains in the distance, or the Church at the top of the nearby hill. Everything in Annecy is picturesque and stunning.

The activities

The locals of Annecy told me about the main draw of Annecy, which seem to revolve around outdoor activities. Whether you want to take a boat out on the water, cycle around the entire lake or hike up one of the many mountains in the area, Annecy offers plenty of opportunities to have a fun adventure and get some exercise.

I hiked up Mount Veyrier, a hike of medium difficulty, which became a 44-hour round-trip. From the summit I had some gorgeous views over the entire area. If you continue along the path to the Mount Baron summit and beyond, you can actually get a great view of Mont Blanc in the distance. If you are an expert hiker and want a real challenge, La Tournette is the mountain for you, though it will take a bit more time to reach than Veyrier.

All in all, Annecy is a great place for active people in the summer months, though I did hear from some locals that if you wanted to enjoy sking, the nearby Chamonix would likely be a better area.

The people

France sometimes gets a bad reputation as being a country of rude people. In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

By far the warmest people I met in France were in Annecy. The locals were always kind, offering to go out of their way to help me or impart some great advice.

It is an important lesson for all travellers to learn; don’t trust every stereotype you hear, or all the news you see on TV. No, the French aren’t all rude, and no, France is not a country rife with violence and unrest. Certainly, there are dangers, and what you read in the news is part of the reality, but the news does not give you a full picture, and there are dangers in every country.

So for those seeking a great city with beautiful sights, fantastic hiking activities, and friendly locals, Annecy is the location for you.