A winter in Annecy : 4 days of outdoor adventures

OUR TRAVEL: 4 days from 4 to 7 January 2022

WHERE? In Annecy, capital of Haute-Savoie

HOW TO GET THERE? The train is the best way to reach Annecy. It takes 3h40 from Paris and that without any connection, it's a great way to go!

GETTINGAROUND: It's easy to get around the city centre on foot, and if you want to get to the lake, hop on a bike to avoid the traffic jams!

WHEN TO GO? All seasons are a good time to come. In the summer the town is full of tourists, so we advise you to come in May/June or September. In winter, from the beginning of December, temperatures drop and snow covers the surrounding mountains, magical!

WHY GO THERE? To discover the many activities that are possible outside of skiing when you are in a wheelchair!

ACCESSIBILITY: Find all our addresses on our map Mapstr !

Annecy is a city that can be experienced in all seasons. In the summer, you can enjoy the lake and hiking in the pine forests. In winter, you can put on your skis (alpine or cross-country) or climb into a sled and let yourself slide on the snow!

Our visit was punctuated by meetings, activities and culinary discoveries, all accessible to wheelchairs! We tell you all about it right here!

The Glières plateau - All forms of sliding

Less than an hour's drive from the city centre, the Glières plateau is a huge playground for everyone. Here, people come alone or with others to walk in the footsteps of the Resistance fighters of the Second World War. The Domaine Nordique des Glières is open to hikers ready to put on a pair of snowshoes with 17 km of trails as well as for the more sporty who opt for cross-country skiing. There are no less than 30 kilometres of trails available!

During our visit to Annecy last June, we had the chance to meet Florian and Angelina, the founders ofActivhandi. After an outing in an electric wheelchair on the Semnoz, this time we tested cross-country skiing from a seat!

Wondering how a person in a wheelchair can go cross-country skiing? A specific equipment has recently been developed by a local company. The concept is very simple: I sit in a wheelchair ski shell attached to the classic bindings of two cross-country skis. Once I'm comfortable, I use two small poles to move forward. It doesn't look like it, but it requires a considerable physical effort to slide on the snow! The first few minutes are not easy: you have to manage the push, the braking and above all the balance of the whole thing... for me, who doesn't have my abdominal muscles, it takes me a bit longer. However, after a good push to get out of a flat area, I take a lot of pleasure in gaining speed on the descents.

For a few months now, the Plateau des Glières has had a big highlight: theAuberge des Glières, which overlooks the area. This brand new hotel restaurant has several rooms, at least one of which is wheelchair accessible. The food is very good and the view at breakfast is splendid! During our visit, we were lucky enough to wake up under a thick blanket of snow that fell during the night, giving the plateau a magical atmosphere!

Once we have had breakfast, a new activity awaits us and it is not one teammate that we find but 9! In an atmosphere worthy of the great Canadian north, we meet Rémy from D'Oumiak Aventures and his sled dogs. Passionate from father to son, he takes care of about thirty dogs such as Husky cross Greenland, Alaskan or Greenland cross German Shepherd. This mix of origins allows him to have a real complementarity in terms of endurance and strength.

The snow is falling hard and only increases the excitement of the dogs. Before departure, all harnessed, they bark and pull on the rope in all directions. Rémy gives them an order and calm returns for a few moments on the plateau. We get into the sled, he takes his place at the back and once the brake is released, not a sound is heard anymore... We only hear the breathing of the dogs and the cracking of the snow under the sled. From time to time Rémy whispers to give Laïka, at the head of the team, the right direction to take.

They have only one objective: to take us through the powder snow to make us experience new sliding sensations. Back on the slope, the sled climbs at 30 km/h and watch out, the snow that jumps under their feet is very fresh!

This outing is almost too short and I'm not going to lie to you, but once I'm back in my wheelchair I think I wouldn't mind a dog or two to pull me along!

Manigod - A family resort

Just before La Clusaz, the ski resort of Manigod has everything to please! Its human size gives it a friendly character sought after by many families in the Annecy region. The 25 kilometres of slopes, suitable for all levels, allow everyone to ski at their own pace. 

The sun tickles the top of Mont Veyrier as we leave Annecy. There is not a cloud in sight and the fir trees by the roadside are increasingly covered in snow. We are eager to get back on the ski slopes, three years after our experience in Samoens. We have an appointment at 8.30am with Eric from Sports Adaptés Sensations to discover the tandem ski. This machine, piloted by a qualified professional, allows any person with a disability, whether temporary or permanent, to have fun on the slopes. It is composed of a hull, wide enough with a high backrest to be well maintained, fixed on two skis thanks to a clever set of suspensions which give it all its flexibility in the descents. The rider places his feet on the back of the skis and uses a handlebar to steer the whole thing.

To set up, nothing could be simpler: a protective cover is placed in the hull, I transfer myself into it with a little help, we attach the various straps to avoid any problems and off we go!

We climb aboard the Cabeau chairlift and once at the top, it only takes a few seconds to feel the fresh wind on my cheeks. The sensations are there... I feel like an actor myself, it's incredible! For more than two hours, Eric takes me everywhere from the powder to the small bumps on the edges of the slopes without forgetting to make turns worthy of a slalom skier!

Not having had the opportunity to go back on a uniski since Samoens in 2019, the tandem ski is the best way for me to leave the green slopes and ski with Myriam. We link turns not far from each other, it's exhilarating! 

Winter sunshine means cold weather, so to finish this session we huddle up at Les Sapins restaurant for an invigorating hot drink.

Annecy - A city where life is good

Spending several days on site gave us the opportunity to discover Annecy's rich history. Anne, a professional guide for over 10 years, took us back through the centuries for an afternoon between the lake shore and the streets of the old town.

The lake, created by the melting of a huge glacier that once filled the valley, has its source in the Bauges massif to the south. Did you know that it takes 4 years for a drop of water to cross Lake Annecy and emerge in the Thiou?

At the entrance to the old town, the Palais de l'Île, set on a natural islet, has been remodeled several times. It served as a princely residence as well as a courthouse and prison until the city was liberated in 1944.

A little further on, on the heights of the town, the 12th century castle does not go unnoticed. Successively occupied by the counts of Geneva and then the dukes of Savoy, this castle has survived the centuries without ever falling into ruin.

The city's tourism boom has seen the emergence of numerous hotels on the shores of the lake since the early 20th century. Such is the case of theImperial Palace, built on stilts in 1935. This huge hotel offers one of the best views of the sunrise, with a sumptuous breakfast to boot! 

We also had the opportunity to spend the night at theHotel Rivage and enjoy a wine tasting with Gaëtan, the restaurant's sommelier. For over an hour, we discovered the Savoy grape varieties and all their rich flavors. We recommend you try a white wine with pronounced flavors that goes wonderfully well with local produce: Roussette from the Altesse grape variety! Then head for the basement, where a huge swimming pool awaits you!

To end a sporty day on the slopes in style, there is nothing better than a session in one of the spas offered by these hotels. You can enjoy a moment of total relaxation alone in the swimming pool or in the soft and soothing atmosphere of a massage room...

Our favourite

The restaurant Ô Bon Bec, on the first floor of the hotel Le Pélican is certainly our culinary favourite of this stay! After several fondues and raclettes, we were strongly advised to go there. This place, opened in the summer of 2021, has an atypical style and is a great place to discover. Here, you can sit at the table, on the terrace, at the bar or in one of the sofas and let yourself be transported by a team that has only one desire: to pamper you!

Between the bar and the restaurant, a cheese maturing cellar and a cellar of matured meats make our mouths water, it's their speciality! Of course, you know us, we fell in love with it before finishing in beauty with the farandole of sweet pleasures served on a trolley!

One last one for the road: La Bicyclette Rose just next to the Tourist Office. As we pass in front of it, it's the decoration that catches our eye, somewhere between a country house and a primary school from another time. The menu is written in a small school notebook... we are quickly won over! We come here for the brunch served every day between noon and 3pm. All the products are local and almost all organic (except when it is not possible). Sit back and let yourself be carried away, you won't see the time pass!

Auberge des Glières : The inn, brand new, offers a magical view on the Glières plateau! 17 rooms allow you to fully enjoy it and we tell you all about the restaurant in "Where to eat?" Rate: from 190€ per night for the wheelchair accessible room. Accessibility: the hotel is fully accessible. The shower is spacious and the seat on the grab bar is wide and safe for transferring.

Rivage hotel: This rather luxurious hotel opened in July 2021 and faces the lake. They offer many services (restaurant, spa and wine tasting). Rates: From €180 per night for 2 people. Accessibility: The hotel is fully wheelchair accessible. There are several accessible rooms (the balcony is also accessible), the spa is also accessible. In the bathroom there is only a stool but you can ask the reception to bring up a chair from the outside terrace. The shower is spacious, but once you have a chair, there is not enough space to transfer comfortably.

Imperial Palace : Built before the First World War, this hotel is one of the most emblematic of Annecy! You will enjoy wandering around this historical place. There are many services to make the most of your stay! Rates: from 180€ per night for 2 people. Accessibility: the hotel is fully wheelchair accessible.

Auberge des Glières : The restaurant of the auberge offers a panoramic view of the plateau. The portions are generous and very good. Prices: from 13€ for a starter, 17€ for a main course and between 30 and 45€ for a menu. Accessibility: like the hotel, the restaurant is fully wheelchair accessible. 

L'Étage : In the heart of the old town, a small door gives access to this address. A few tables, high chairs to eat at the bar and another space is located upstairs. The fondue with ceps is delicious and you will also love the reblochon puff pastry! Unfortunately, the raclettes are only served upstairs, which is only accessible by stairs. Prices: from 13€ for a starter, 18€ for a main course. Accessibility: the lower room is wheelchair accessible. It should not be too wide so as to be able to pass between the first tables.

Le Ricochet : The restaurant of the Rivage hotel is a good address. Prices: from 15€ for a starter, 24€ for a main course. Find the full menu here. Accessibility: like the hotel, the restaurant is fully wheelchair accessible. 

The Brasserie de l'Impérial : The Brasserie has been moved to the place of the gastronomic restaurant "La Voile" for some renovation work. It is a real pleasure to be able to have lunch with a splendid view on the lake and to taste local products. Prices: from 17€ for a starter, 23€ for a main course and 29€ for the daily menu. Find here the complete menu. Accessibility: just like the hotel, the restaurant is fully wheelchair accessible. 

Ô Bon Bec : An atypical restaurant on thefirst floor of the hotel Le Pélican known for its cheese and meat cellars. Prices: the lunch menu is €29, from €31 for a 30-day matured piece of meat. Find here the complete menu. Accessibility: the hotel is fully wheelchair accessible and there are two PRM parking spaces in front of the entrance.

La Bicyclette Rose : In the heart of Annecy, we go through the door of this restaurant with an atypical decoration. The brunch is served every day of the week and we won't hide it from you... it's great! The products are fresh, local, seasonal and most often organic! Prices: from 23€ for brunch, otherwise it is possible to make it à la carte. You can find the full menu here. Accessibility: the entrance door opens automatically and the large table is easily accessible by wheelchair. The toilets are quite large but there is a lot of stuff stored in the access corridor which makes it difficult to access.

Sitting cross-country skiing: A brand new activity offered by Activhandi. It is a sport that requires a good physical condition to push on the poles and take the curves well. Prices: Contact Activhandi for more information. Accessibility: The installation is done in the same type of hull as for sit-skiing. You push with two small poles and hope you don't encounter a false flat! The activity took place on the Glières plateau and there are adapted toilets at the main office. 

D'Oumiak Aventures: A completely unbelievable sled dog experience organised by passionate people. Several options are available: baptism, driving the dog team, 1 to 3 days raid! Prices: count 120€ for a baptism for 1 or 2 people. Accessibility: the sled is not officially adapted for a person with reduced mobility. However, you can count on Rémy's help for the installation. Inside the sled, a big foam is installed for your comfort and stability during the activity.

Wine tasting : Gaétan, maitre d'hôtel and sommelier at Le Rivage, presents you with passion during 1 hour with more or less known Savoy wines. This is an opportunity to learn more about the grape varieties of the region with 6 typical wines. At the end of the tasting, sit down at a table in the bar with a glass of your favourite wine and an assortment of charcuterie and cheese! Do not hesitate to contact the hotel to book your experience. Rates: €60/person. Accessibility: located just behind the hotel bar, the cellar is fully wheelchair accessible.

Tandem skiing : Activhandi, with the participation of Sport Adapté Sensations allowed us to live an incredible experience in tandem'flex. Prices: 150€ for a half day and 250€ for a full day (excluding ski pass). Accessibility: The machine is very well designed and very comfortable without any risk of injury. You get into the protection with a little help and in a few minutes you are ready to go down the slopes!

Cristal Spa : The ultimate relaxation experience in the heart of this wellness area. Take the opportunity to have a massage in the Cinq Mondes Spa area (find the complete list of treatments offered here ). Prices: Count 130€ for a 50 min massage. Accessibility: The wellness area is not necessarily easily accessible by wheelchair, especially the swimming pool, which is only accessible by stairs. The Spa area is fully wheelchair accessible and the team is on hand to help you transfer to the massage table if required.

After this second stay in Annecy, we are getting more and more used to this town. We can't wait to come back for more time to soak up the life on the lake!

This trip was part of the #JeRedécouvreLaFrance communication and relaunch campaign in partnership with Atout France. Find all the information about this campaign here.

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