The beautiful town of Annecy is situated in the Haute Savoie region of eastern-central France, close to Geneva and the borders of both Switzerland and Italy. It lies 448 metres above sea level and has a population of 133,000.
Perched at the northern end of the purest lake in Europe, and surrounded by mountains on three sides, Annecy is a major tourist centre and provides for all types of water sports in the summer, while the mountains are a skiers’ paradise in winter.
The centre of the old town is criss-crossed by canals and is a gourmet’s delight, with many bars and restaurants, while the Promenade Cheltenham, which runs along the lakeside, has a red British telephone box.
Cheltenham has been twinned with Annecy since 1956, when a protocol of friendship was signed on 17 June 1956. Early twinning exchanges involved small parties of young people, and over the years the flow of visitors between the two towns has increased to include exchanges between choirs, orchestras, cyclists, sports groups, dancers, language clubs, gardeners, naval associations, business students, senior citizens, social clubs and young farmers.
In 2016 the two towns celebrated 60 years of twinning and many events were planned to mark this occasion. An official and tourist group trip to Annecy was organised from 3-10 August 2016 to coincide with the spectacular Fete du Lac.
No one is disappointed with a trip to Annecy and the list of new groups wanting to exchange grows all the time. For those aged 18+ wishing to improve their linguistic skills there are opportunities for work placements in Annecy on the work placement exchange scheme.
The old town is dominated by the castle which overlooks the canals decorated with their flower-filled window boxes, as well as shadowing the former prison, now a museum. The famous ‘Fete du Lac’, a delight of music and fireworks, takes place on the first Saturday in August and commemorates a fleeting visit made by Napoleon III in 1870. Other festivals are devoted to music, film and ballet.
Annecy is predominantly a tourist town which boasts a major conference centre, while at the same time serving the surrounding rural and agricultural areas as an administrative hub.
The future of twinning with Annecy is regularly reviewed and a co-operation agreement for the development of the twinning links is produced.