Last Minute Anniversary Trip to Lake Annecy, Geneva, and Milan

We decided we should take a trip this week. It’s traditional to take off a couple of weeks in August, and all the tradespeople for the renovation are on vacation, so we figured we should also get out of town for a bit. Plus it’s our anniversary this week (a big one!), and a trip seems like a good way to mark it.

I’m actually writing this from Lake Annecy at the foot of the French Alps. We are staying in a little apartment that’s about a 10 minute walk from the lake. We drove here yesterday (Sunday) — it’s a 7 hour drive from Argentan.

Last night we did some exploring to get a sense of the area and took a quick dip in the 70 degree lake. Today we’ll take a walking tour around Annecy’s Old Town (it has canals and it looks like a smaller Venice!) from our Rick Steve’s book. Then we’ll rent a paddle boat and head out on the lake to swim and picnic. When exploring last night, we noticed lots of the paddle boats have built-in slides — we hope one is available for us.

In the afternoon, we’re planning to hire a driver + motor boat to do some wakeboarding (we know this is last-minute, so we’re crossing our fingers someone is available). We’re also thinking about renting bikes and riding around the lake perimeter.

We’re going to break this trip up into 3 sections. We’re starting with a couple of days at Lake Annecy. Then we’re spending one night at a fancy hotel in Geneva, Switzerland to celebrate our anniversary. Geneva is a 45-minute drive from Lake Annecy.

Then we’re headed to Milan, Italy on Wednesday, with a stop for lunch at Chamonix (and a view of Mont Blanc!) on the way. Milan is a four hour drive from Geneva, and we’ll be there until Saturday. We’re going to do our annual back-to-school dates, go see The Last Supper, and we’ll take a day trip to Lake Como too.

So far, we’ve only stayed in France, but I am curious about what the border crossings will be like now versus pre-Covid. We did lots of research and it sounds like travel among these countries is allowed right now, but we don’t know if our American passports will give us problems (even though we’ve been living in France for a year).

Have you ever been to any of these places? Do you have recommendations or advice for us? We would love that. I’m especially looking for Milan and Lake Como tips because we have the most time there.

P.S. — If you’re craving more content, I typically produce a bunch on Instagram daily. I’m told even if you don’t have an account you can access the content from a browser.

23 thoughts on “Last Minute Anniversary Trip to Lake Annecy, Geneva, and Milan”

  1. My usual tip for Como is to explore by boat rather than car – but I don’t know what that would be like with the Covid restrictions! Also there are some nice hikes to do up on the slopes around the lake. I remember doing one that started off near Menaggio but can’t remember exactly where! Have fun.

  2. If you stop between Milan and Como in Varese, Piedigrotta Pizza in a street piazza ia amazing: https://www.piedigrottavarese.it/. There is also a small museum in Besao, near Porto Ceresio (on Lake Lugano) that highlights the swimming dinosaurs that they have found in the lakes. There are remains in the mountains. Around the corner from the museum is a great bar/restaurant with a back patio.

  3. What a fantastic last minute trip!! My anniversary is also this week and its a big one for us too! 15 years!! What is your anniversary date? Mine is the 20th of August. I don’t personally have any experience with any of those places but we have a lovely Au Pair that is from Milan and has spent her whole life there. She’s a fantastic resource for that area if you’d like any suggestions for restaurants, activities to do, etc. Let me know and I’ll ask her!! Have so much fun on your trip!

  4. Hello from Annecy! I’m glad you’re getting to explore our city. If you want to go to a beach a little less crowded than downtown, I would check out Menthon Saint Bernard. You can also rent paddle boards and boats from there. Also Talloires and Agnon are great. Enjoy your trip!

  5. Did you already get your tickets for the Last Supper? Because of the small number of people per viewing (even in pre-Covid times), they sell out quickly weeks in advance.

  6. What a great trip! Italy is such a beautiful country, I’m so glad you¡re going, I so think italians deserve visits, they have uplifted the world with their singing during the quarantine. Have a great trip.

    1. I recommend Abbazia di Piona on Lake Como. A magical, deeply spiritual place.. and they make an otherworldly Limoncello, available at the abbey shop.

  7. Gabby, I have been reading your blog for almost a decade but this is my first time to comment. Lake Como is magical! If you only have a day, I would highly recommend renting a boat and exploring the lake by water. Our family stayed in Varenna a few years ago, and we LOVED the afternoon that we rented a speed boat. We also took family-friendly cooking lessons (our youngest daughter is Flora June’s age) but if you only have one day, you may not want to be inside cooking all day. Depending on the weather, I would hike, rent a boat, stroll, and watch the sunset while eating gelato. Enjoy!

  8. Hi, the EU Commission has launched this platform https://reopen.europa.eu/fr which is regularly updated. For both travel to/from the EU and travel within the EU, residence is the applicable criteria. If you’re nervous, I suggest downloading an EDF bill or Something similar. Signed : EU public affairs person ;-)

    1. I was going to share that Re-open EU site but with a disclaimer, as we seemed to get conflicting info. We’re US citizens with UK residency but the UK gov site says we cannot enter Switzerland – they make the distinction of EU/EFTA citizens vs. residents. We contacted the Swiss embassy here in London and they said the same – our passport counted, not our residency. That may be just for those coming from the UK vs. other countries? So Gabby, I’ve been following and hoping you get into Switzerland without any issues!

      1. oh, that’s inetresting. I went back on reopen EU and cliked on the actual Swiss legislation, which does refer to residence. So, could be that the person in the London embassy wasn’t aware of it? But of course no one wants to travel all the way to the border without legal security and/or have to bargain their way into the country!

  9. I was solo in Lake Como and had a long wait till my train arrived. I took a water taxi around the entire lake. I got to see many of the amazing homes up close and had such a delightful crew who invited me to join them when they stopped at a lakeside restaurant for lunch. It’s a special memory and I definitely recommend getting out on the water if you can.

  10. What a nice trip! On the drive home, perhaps stop to stretch your legs in Yvoire, a tiny medieval town on Lake Geneva. There is a pretty patio at Le Vieux Logis not too far from the public parking lot if you happen to be there at lunchtime.

  11. Outside of Annecy there is a popular hand gliding area. You can sit and watch them prepare and take off and you can also visit the landing area. It is on the opposite side of the lake from the town of Annecy. Check it out.

  12. We spent a few days in Annecy and it was lovely. Our fondest memory is eating something with Reblochon cheese at a restaurant. Our meal came with glace, and the waiter asked us what flavor we wanted. We asked (with only our poor daughter speaking French) what flavors they had. We asked what they had. He very impatiently started listing flavors, and we realized they had EVERY flavor. He was all smiles again when we stopped him and told him what we wanted.

  13. I just came here to tell you that my mind is completely blown that you mentioned you’ve been living in France for a FULL YEAR?! I have loved seeing everything you’re doing and the renovations, but if someone asked me how long you’ve been there I would say maybe 6 months? Wow, quarantine life is FLYING

  14. We love going out on big steamer boats on Lake Geneva. Yvoire’s a favorite nearby destination. Chateau Chillion is a longer ride, but you can get back to Geneva via train if you’re in a hurry.

    Bain des Paquis is a bathing area/beach on a pier near the center of town. Great people watching. You can get a bite to eat at Buvette des Bains and they have a high diving platform, zipline, and floating climbing wall too.

    Enjoy!

  15. We spent 6 weeks in Europe with our 5 kids last summer (thank heavens we went last summer!). After our first week in Rome, we headed to Annecy and stayed in Dousard, a tiny town at the end of the lake for 5 days. We swam, biked, strolled, and drank in the scenery. It was everybody’s favorite stop on the trip! (Okay maybe aside from Puy du Fou – that was a pretty spectacular day!)

  16. Peck in Milan is one of the prettiest food markets I’ve been to (and tasted!). It’s near the Duomo and definitely worth a stop

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