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The Palais de l'Isle takes center stage in the Canal du Thiou in Annecy. Built in the 12th century, the palace has a varied history, serving as the residence of a lord in its early years, then as a prison. Today, surrounded by colorful cafes and restaurants, the triangular-shape palace serves as a museum.
The Palais de l'Isle takes center stage in the Canal du Thiou in Annecy. Built in the 12th century, the palace has a varied history, serving as the residence of a lord in its early years, then as a prison. Today, surrounded by colorful cafes and restaurants, the triangular-shape palace serves as a museum. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
The Palais de l'Isle takes center stage in the Canal du Thiou in Annecy. Built in the 12th century, the palace has a varied history, serving as the residence of a lord in its early years, then as a prison. Today, surrounded by colorful cafes and restaurants, the triangular-shape palace serves as a museum.
The Palais de l'Isle takes center stage in the Canal du Thiou in Annecy. Built in the 12th century, the palace has a varied history, serving as the residence of a lord in its early years, then as a prison. Today, surrounded by colorful cafes and restaurants, the triangular-shape palace serves as a museum. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
A peaceful, early-morning stroll along the canal in Annecy, France, allows visitors to enjoy the town's picturesque atmosphere before crowds of local residents and tourists converge on canal-side cafes.
A peaceful, early-morning stroll along the canal in Annecy, France, allows visitors to enjoy the town's picturesque atmosphere before crowds of local residents and tourists converge on canal-side cafes. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Cafes and restaurants line the canal in Annecy provide  lovely as well as lively spots for rest and refreshment.
Cafes and restaurants line the canal in Annecy provide lovely as well as lively spots for rest and refreshment. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Annecy's canal-side cafes offer idyllic spots for peaceful contemplation, as well as the opportunity to toss bits of food to swans and ducks paddling by.
Annecy's canal-side cafes offer idyllic spots for peaceful contemplation, as well as the opportunity to toss bits of food to swans and ducks paddling by. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
While Annecy has its busy walkways along the canal and the bustling lake area, it also has quiet get-away nooks and crannies to explore. This little corner had a small but wonderful restaurant surrounded by high buildings of various colors with shutter-decorated windows.
While Annecy has its busy walkways along the canal and the bustling lake area, it also has quiet get-away nooks and crannies to explore. This little corner had a small but wonderful restaurant surrounded by high buildings of various colors with shutter-decorated windows. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Annecy, situated on the shores of Lac d'Annecy, attracts a wide range of sports enthusiasts. Boating and other water sports are popular, and hang gliders can't resist the surrounding mountains to practice their sport.
Annecy, situated on the shores of Lac d'Annecy, attracts a wide range of sports enthusiasts. Boating and other water sports are popular, and hang gliders can't resist the surrounding mountains to practice their sport. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
A boat makes regular cruises around Lac d'Annecy and stops in villages that sit along the lake's shores. The cruise offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Here, passengers also get a glimpse of Chateau d'Annecy, a castle-turned-museum.
A boat makes regular cruises around Lac d'Annecy and stops in villages that sit along the lake's shores. The cruise offers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Here, passengers also get a glimpse of Chateau d'Annecy, a castle-turned-museum. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
Lac d'Annecy sits between the old and the new. Modern high-rise apartment buildings provide a background for Annecy's lake. But  only a short distance from the lake is Annecy's medieval old town.
Lac d'Annecy sits between the old and the new. Modern high-rise apartment buildings provide a background for Annecy's lake. But only a short distance from the lake is Annecy's medieval old town. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)
A row of boats lines a pristine, tree-lined canal in Annecy. The town's canals, lake and the surrounding mountains draw outdoors enthusiasts year round.
A row of boats lines a pristine, tree-lined canal in Annecy. The town's canals, lake and the surrounding mountains draw outdoors enthusiasts year round. (Pary Smith/Special to Stars and Stripes)

My trip started with a tiny photograph I saw on a calendar. As small as it was, it captured my imagination and it wasn’t long before I was headed to the French Alps and the lovely town of Annecy. Situated on the banks of the Lac d’Annecy and surrounded by mountains, the town beckons to boaters, hang-gliding enthusiasts, romantics and everyday tourists. Annecy has a rich abundance of French charm: flower bedecked bridges, a medieval old town and a canal lined with cafes and restaurants where patrons sip coffee and watch ducks and swans paddle by. A boat that makes regular runs around Lac d’Annecy offers passengers spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. Add to that some great French cuisine and who could ask for anything more?

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