When strolling around Annecy, the Palais de l'Île is a building that you would be hard pressed not to notice. Sitting on a natural island right in the middle of the canal city, shaped like a boat and framed by pretty pastel townhouses on either side, its striking form has become one of the defining images of this historic French city.
With the first foundations laid in the 12th century, by 1325 the Palais de l'Île was being used as a prison before becoming a minting house. It returned to its custodial use during parts of the 1800s, and then again during the Second World War, when it was used first to hold members of French resistance and then to hold Nazis. If you keep your eyes peeled, you can even spot messages scratched into the cell walls by its former inmates.
In between, it acted as everything from a noble residence, to a courthouse, to a gym. From 1865, the Palais became a home for the elderly, then a carpentry school, before being threatened with demolition. Instead, it was quickly listed as a historic monument and renovated. Today, it serves as a small but sweet museum, displaying ancient coins and giving an insight into the trials and tribulations of Annecy through the ages, as well as hosting exhibitions from local artists.
Although the museum and building itself are worth the time and it's interesting to see the conditions that prisoners lived in, some of the English language explanations can be fairly brief - you'll probably be in and out in an hour of so - so have a read up about its history before you visit to get the most out of your visit.
Combination tickets for the Palais de l'Île and the Chateau d'Annecy are available from either location for €7.20 for adults or €4 for under 25s.
Throughout the Year
Under 12 Admission
Palais de l'Île
3 passage de l'Ile
France 74000 Annecy