Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, France

Annecy hills Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard

Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard near Annecy, France

Perched atop the lush foothills of the French Alps and overlooking the beautiful azure waters of the Lac d’Annecy, the Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard (more commonly known as the Château de Menthon), is a spectacular medieval castle that can trace its foundations back to the 10th century! Originally built to maintain control of the lake and the old Roman road through the mountains, Château de Menthon is named after St Bernard of Menthon, the patron saint of skiers (as well as founder of hospitals and other saintly deeds). Unlike most castles who have changed hands many times, the Chateau de Menthon has actually been in the Menthon family since about 1180 – an impressive feat! Though little changed throughout the Middle Ages and the Renaissance, the castle was renovated several times in the 18th and 19th centuries. Fun fact – the father of the present owner was present during the Nuremburg Trials (representing France) and was one of the early forces behind a “united Europe” (later to become the European Union). With over a 100 rooms (though not all on display of course!), the castle is an incredible architectural undertaking. The Château de Menthon’s fairytale-like setting overlooking village, lake and mountains, tucked deep into the woodland, adds to the castle’s charm, wonder and intrigue.

Pro tip: Also visit the Chateau d’Annecy, who shares a similar architecture (and is currently home to a modern art museum). Make the most of the lake and explore the Lac d’Annecy by boat.


Visit More of Annecy


 

Palais de l’Ile, Annecy, France

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The Palais de l’Ile, Annecy, France

Deep in the French Alps, the ancient town of Annecy sits along the picturesque shores of Lac d’Annecy. At the heart of Annecy, at the intersection of the River Thiou and the city’s scenic, all-important canals, is the Palais de l’Ile, an impressive 12th-century building. Shaped like the prow of a ship setting sail, the Palais started out as a prison, became a coin mint, was transformed into a courthouse, housed the Presidial Council of the Province Genevois, and became military barracks. Today, it is a museum, though it is certainly more intriguing and alluring from the exterior. In a way, the Palais de l’Ile is the keystone of Annecy – the stone that holds the rest of the city’s splendour together. And what a beautiful city it is! Annecy is full of colourful facades, glittering canals, glowing lamps, bright plazas, cheerful terrace cafes, and arching bridges. It is often called the Pearl of the Alps, and any visitor to its streets, canals or lake will know that it certainly deserves its title.


More Beautiful Places in the Alps
  1. Innsbruck, Austria
  2. Megeve, France
  3. Sacra di San Michele, Italy
  4. Val d’Aosta, Italy
  5. French Alps
  6. Gutenberg Castle, Liechtenstein
  7. Lago di Braes, Italy
  8. Torino, Italy
  9. Chamonix, France
  10. Grenoble, France

 

Chateau d’Annecy, France

annecy chateau

Chateau d’Annecy, France

Construction began in the 12th century on this marvelous French chateau resting on the beautiful shores of Lake Annecy. Though little is known about its beginnings, it served mainly as a residence for the nobles of Geneva for centuries. Located in the Haute-Savoie (Savoy) region of France, this chateau has long graced border of the ever-changing frontier. In fact, until relatively recently, Savoy was an independent region. It was annexed to France in 1792 under the First French Republic, was given back to the Kingdom of Sardinia 23 years later, and then alongside Nice, it became a political bargaining chip used by Napoleon and the King of Sardinia to settle the Treaty of Torin (a city with strong connections to the region)–all of which aided in the process of unifying Italy, which is pretty interesting to remark. Speaking of remarkable, did I mention that Italy was only unified in the middle of the 19th century? Rome only became the capital in 1871–making Rome as the capital of our unified, modern-day, boot-shaped Italy roughly the same age as Mark Twain’s infamous Tom Sawyer. Just something to interesting to keep in mind!

 

Lac d’Annecy, France

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Lac d’Annecy, France.

What better way to experience France’s second largest lake than by boat? Possibly “Europe’s Cleanest Lake” because of all the regulations surrounding it, it seems that Lake Annecy is also one of the prettiest. Nestled on an island among casual, green mountains is the medieval fortress, the Château de Châteauvieux Duingt. One one hand romantic and picturesque, the mountains, lake and château become inspirations for writers, painters and poets abundant. One the other, the silent, ivy-clothed and remote chateau on its tiny island isloated from the rest of the French town, sends a little shiverdown your spine as you are absolutely sure you saw this castle featured in a Scooby-Doo episode where it was haunted by a ghost. Despite this passing shudder, one must admit that the melange of castle, lake and mountain create an image that is beautifully and quintessentially French.