Board your private boat in the town of Annecy, at the port by Les Jardins d’Europe, and follow the shore clockwise around the lake (the only permitted direction). Along the way, you’ll pass a few of the small towns and villages that have grown up to take advantage of the lake’s natural beauty. Veyrier du Lac is one of the most exclusive addresses in France, filled with lakeside mansions. Farther south, Menthon Saint-Bernard is dominated by a many-turreted chateau.
Near the middle of the lake, glide into a smuggler’s grotto where 18th-century pirates hid their loot — primarily wine and tobacco. Your captain will point out the remnants of their exploits on the cave wall — indentations where they made shelves to store their ill-gotten booty — before heading back towards the town of Talloires, where you can glimpse a 1,000-year-old abbey. Today, the abbey is an elegant hotel that has hosted the likes of Mark Twain, Paul Cézanne and Jean Reno, and offers some of the best water-view dining in the region.
As you sail, you’ll notice bright paragliders overhead and cyclists zipping past on a shoreline path, as well as boats and pedalos (paddle boat) gliding past.
When you reach a secluded cove, you’ll drop anchor and watch the setting sun as it slips behind the mountains and the town of Annecy. Enjoy the calm view as you sip an apéritif and indulge in light nibbles. Once dark has fallen, head back north past the Blue Lagoon and the private chateau at Duingt, returning to the town, where you disembark.