Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
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Article written by Elisa - Travel Writer & Local in France
Check out this road trip Rhône Alpes from Lyon to Annecy, which is an ideal self-drive vacation for those who love nature, French heritage, and good food.
The region of Auvergne-Rhône Alpes in Eastern France is one of our favorites, both for its cultural and gastronomic richness and also because of its different landscapes. A weekend or a week will not be enough to discover the beauty of the region, but you will be able to have a glimpse of what it has to offer.
The drive from Annecy to Lyon (or vice-versa) takes less than 2 hours, but we are on holiday, and we want to have fun, so why rush when there are so many beautiful places to see between Lyon and Annecy? Instead of a Lyon to Annecy day trip, we decided to take a week!
This 6-day road trip Lyon to Annecy covers three French departments in the Rhône Alpes (Ain, Savoie, and Haute-Savoie) and visits vibrant cities, small towns, and natural wonders. This itinerary from Lyon to Annecy by car is one of the most beautiful road trips in France. Read more about road-tripping in France:
Road Trip Lyon – Annecy Overview
- Start: Lyon
- Finish: Annecy
- Duration: 6 days
- Suggested Route: Lyon – Chambéry – Aix-les-Bains – Annecy
- Total distance: 274 km, 4 hours drive in total
- Regions covered: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes
- Best for: outdoors, sightseeing, and gastronomy.
Road Trip Lyon to Annecy Map
Lyon to Annecy Road Trip Itinerary 6-Days
The first stop of this Lyon to Annecy road trip is Lyon, the capital of the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, where you will spend three nights. For this road trip from Lyon, you don’t need the car until day 2, so if you are taking a self-drive vacation to the region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes in a hire car, wait until then to pick up your rental car in Lyon.
We recommend booking your car with Discover Cars. This site is great because it takes all major rental companies, such as Hertz, Avis, and more, and compares prices for you. Check out our best tips for renting a car in France.
Day 0 | Arrival in Lyon
As this road trip begins in Lyon, take this opportunity to explore this wonderful city before hitting the road. There is no road trip travel on the first day of this driving holiday, but we have included recommendations on what to visit and where to stay.
Day 1 | Explore Lyon
Day 1 of this Lyon to Annecy road trip visits Lyon. Lyon is the third-largest French city and one of the most beautiful cities in France. Bisected by the river Rhône from north to south, Lyon is well known for its quality of life and its beautiful heritage from Roman times to contemporary architecture.
Considered France’s capital of gastronomy, Lyon is an excellent place for enjoying good food and wine. Take the time to learn about Lyon’s food specialties and, of course, try them!
The list of fun things to do in Lyon includes:
- Cathédrale Saint-Jean
- Traboules of Lyon
- Lugdunum – Musée et Théâtres Romains
- Fourvière Hill and Basilica
- Lyon food tour
- Old Lyon and the Saône River Banks
- Parc de la Tête d’Or
- Musée des Confluences
Day 2 | Day Trip to Pérouges
After a good breakfast with a view on the terrace of Villa Florentine, day 2 of this road trip Lyon–Annecy takes you to Pérouges, one of the best places to visit near Lyon.
Pérouges is a pretty medieval walled village just 40 minutes outside of Lyon. Perched on top of a small hill overlooking the Ain River, Pérouges is listed as one of the ‘Most Beautiful Villages in France.’
You are going to love Pérouges and its authentic historic atmosphere. Its well-preserved architecture, winding cobblestone streets, and pretty squares will transport you back in time.
You can combine sightseeing with one of the many hiking routes in the stunning countryside around Pérouges. These day hiking routes from Pérouges range from 40 minutes to 2.5 hours.
Day 3 | Lyon – Chambéry
Day 3 of this Lyon to Annecy road trip takes you south to the city of Chambéry, with a stop at beautiful Lac d’Aiguebelette.
Morning in Lac d’Aiguebelette
From Lyon, drive about an hour to Aiguebelette-le-Lac for a relaxing morning by the beautiful Lake of Aiguebelette.
Aiguebelette-le-Lac is a small village in Savoie (Savoy) set at the foot of the Montagne de l’Epine, about twenty kilometers from Chambéry. Visitors come to Aiguebelette-le-Lac mainly for its beautiful emerald lake, the smallest of the four lakes of the region Savoie-Mont Blanc. It is also one of France’s warmest natural lakes: here, the water temperature can reach 28 °C in summer! To preserve the lake’s ecosystem, bathing is only allowed in specific areas.
Depending on the season, you can take a bath in the lake, have a picnic by the lake, explore the lake and its tiny islands in a kayak, or ride the cycle path along the lake. There are also many hiking paths around Lake of Aiguebelette that are accessible all year round, and they are great for learning about local history while enjoying fabulous views.
For more suggestions on what to do in Aiguebelette-le-Lac, visit the tourist office of Lac d’Aiguabelette, at the Maison du Lac (570 route du Lac d’Aiguebelette, Nances), situated at the northern tip of the lake.
Afternoon in Chambéry
From Aiguebelette-le-Lac, drive to Chambéry, where you will spend the night. For a unique stay, we recommend Château de Candie, just out of Chambéry. Château de Candie is a historic 14th-century château set in a large park overlooking Chambéry. Enjoy the château’s grounds and a stunning panorama of the Chartreuse mountain range.
The castle features guest rooms inspired by historical characters, an outdoor swimming pool, a shaded terrace, and two on-site restaurants, including the fine dining L’Orangerie.
Use the afternoon to explore Chambéry, the capital of Savoie. Chambéry is a mid-size city (by France’s standards) in the French Alps. It is a pleasant city to visit for a day or on a weekend getaway, with interesting historical sights and great Savoie region food and wines. During the winter, some of the best ski resorts in the Alps are within an hour’s drive from Chambéry.
Explore Chambery’s Old Town with the Medieval Castle of the Dukes of Savoy, the Chambéry Cathedral, and the intriguing Elephant Fountain.
Day 4 | Aix-les-Bains
Day 4 of this road trip Rhône Alpes explores Aix-les-Bains, a beautiful small city and lakeside resort nestled between the mountains and the Lac du Bourget (the biggest natural lake in France).
For your night at Aix-les-Bains, the Logis Auberge Saint Simond is ideal. Located in a calm residential district of Aix and with free parking, Auberge Saint Simond has a Mediterranean feel, surrounded by beautiful gardens with an abundance of olive and orange trees.
Morning at Aix-les-Bains
Aix-les-Bains is nicknamed the Riviera of the French Alps. By the end of the 19th century, the waters of the Aix-les-Bains’ hot springs were recognized for their medicinal properties, suitable for treatments against rheumatism or people suffering from respiratory tracts.
It was thanks to Queen Victoria and her daughter Beatrice, who visited Aix-les-Bains regularly, that the resort acquired international fame and attracted high society visitors looking for the benefits of the hot springs and the sulfur springs as well as to enjoy other pleasures by the lake.
Approved by the Academy of Medicine, the Victoria thermal mixing (named in honor of the Queen) results from two drilling sites more than 1,000m deep and water at more than 70 °C. This water is then cooled down for use in thermal baths.
Thanks to the hot springs and the thermal baths, the city developed and attracted international tourism. Without the thermal baths, Aix-les-Bains would never have had a casino, a racecourse, or such beautiful private mansions!
Spend the morning visiting Aix-les-Bains. You can do some sightseeing or enjoy one of the endless activities around Lac du Bourget.
The list of fun things to see and do in Aix-les-Bains includes:
- Visit the Thermes Nationaux, listed as a historical monument
- Take a stroll or a bike ride around the lake
- Go to the beach (from May to August). Some beaches are free; some areas have a small fee
- Hiking and pack rafting on the Lac Bourget
- Enjoy a spa treatment at Chevalley Thermal Baths
- Visit the casino and admire its stunning architecture
Another interesting thing to do close to the lake is to visit the Abbey of Hautecombe, located on the lake’s wild shore. This beautiful 12th-century Cistercian abbey is the location of the Maison de Savoie’s (the House of Savoy) medieval tombs.
Today, the dynastic Maison de Savoie is more well known as the ex-Royal Family in Italy (Italy’s monarchy was abolished in 1946). From Aix-les-Bains, it is a 35-minute drive to the Abbey of Hautecombe, but you can also take this boat cruise at Aix, which includes the visit to the abbey. For more freedom, you can rent a boat in Aix-les-Bains (different types available) and spend an afternoon or a day on the lake.
Afternoon and Evening at Col de la Chambotte
In the afternoon, drive up to Col de la Chambotte for some great views of the Lake du Bourget. From the parking lot, take the small path on the restaurant’s left (behind the tourist office hut), and walk for a few minutes under the trees. Then, it’s a WOW! moment guaranteed; the views of the lake are fantastic!
Days 5 – 6 | Annecy
The last stop of this Lyon to Annecy road trip is Annecy. If you travel from Lyon to Annecy directly, it is just an easy 2-hour drive, but we hope you enjoy this extended detour of the region.
The beautiful city of Annecy is a must on any trip to the French Alps. Located by the lake of the same name, Annecy has many historical and natural highlights. Also, Annecy is an excellent place to enjoy great food and a good life, and we recommend spending at least two nights in Annecy.
In Annecy, we recommend spending one day exploring the Old Town and another day around the lake. This Annecy itinerary comes with many ideas for your stay in Annecy.
Lake Annecy is one of the most popular paragliding spots in France. La Forclaz and Planfait, near Annecy, are the two classic take-off sites for paragliding baptisms. Discover the thrill of paragliding over Lake Annecy during a tandem flight. You can also rent a boat in Annecy (different types available) to spend an afternoon or a day on the lake.
This road trip Rhône Alpes ends here. If you have some extra days, you can consider taking this French Alps road trip (or a part of it) which starts from Annecy.
So, what are you waiting for? Book this Lyon to Annecy by car itinerary today!