Winter scene illuminated on the Palais de l'Isle in Annecy, Haute Savoie, France
Illuminating the Alps. Illuminating Annecy
Who knew that an 800-year-old structure could look so festive? The pretty holiday illumination you see is adorning the side of the Palais de l'Ile, a distinctive 12th-century building in the town of Annecy, France, high in the French Alps. Designated a historic monument in 1900, the medieval structure is perched on a small islet in the Canal du Thiou.
Over the years, this 'house in the shape of a ship' has served as a palace for local nobility, a prison, a courthouse, and an administrative building for the regional government. Today, it's a museum of local history. The town of Annecy itself, dubbed 'the pearl of the French Alps,' dates back to Roman times. Over the centuries it passed to various counts and regional kingdoms before finally being annexed to France in 1860. Today it's the largest city in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of southeastern France. Near the border with Switzerland, the area is also home to Lake Annecy, the third-largest lake in France. It's a popular tourist draw for skiers in winter, and hikers and cyclists in summer.