palais de l'isle

The Palais de l'Île, the Palais de l'Isle or the old prisons of Annecy all refer to the same location: a historic monument dating from the Middle Ages located near Annecy town centre with a fascinating history that today houses an exhibition centre, which you should visit during your holiday on Lake Annecy or even just for a day's visit to Annecy.

The Palais de l'Isle: a historic monument

The Palais de l'Isle is a small building dating from the Middle Ages that has served many purposes over the centuries, and is closely linked to the history of France. In the Middle Ages, the only building on this small rocky island in the Thiou was a fortified house that was occasionally used as a prison. In the 14th century, it also housed a monetary workshop and was then transformed into a princely residence. In the 16th century, it was used as a court house and prison. From 1550, it also housed the Chambre des Comptes du Genevois, an independent jurisdiction of the Chambre des Comptes de Savoie.

The Palais de l'Île remained a prison until the French Revolution. It then housed administrative offices, was transformed into barracks and then into a warehouse, and even became an old people's home before becoming a barracks again. In order to be saved, the palace was listed as a historic monument in 1900. During the Second World War, it was once again used as a prison.

Today it houses the Centre d'Interprétation de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine. The CIAP is a museographic space devoted to the architecture and heritage of the Annecy region. Temporary exhibitions are held there on a regular basis. You can discover all this when you visit the Palais de l'Isle.

Visiting the Palais de l'Isle

Before visiting the Palais de l'Île, start by crossing the Perrière bridge next to the Saint François de Sales church for a souvenir photo. During your visit, you can see the prisons dating back to the Middle Ages and understand the conditions in which the prisoners were held. You will also visit the chapel of the Palais de L'Île and the courtrooms. The palace now houses Annecy's CIAP. A visit is included in the price of your ticket.

What you need to know before visiting the Palais de l'Île

The Palais de l'Île, or de l'Isle, is located right in the heart of the old town, on an island in Annecy's Thiou river. Allow an hour to visit the Palais de l'Isle. Admission is €3.80 per adult and €2 for minors aged 12 to 17 inclusive. Under-12s enter free of charge. Admission is free on the first Sunday of every month. The Palais de l'Île is open from Wednesday to Monday:

  •     10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. from October to May ;
  •     from 10.30 am to 6 pm from June to September.

From the 4-star La Ravoire and Les Fontaines campsites, it takes 25 minutes to get to the Palais de l'Isle, around 16 km away, following the D1508 along the lake. The nearest car park is the Saint-Claire car park.
For more information, visit the Annecy museums website. Among the must-sees in Annecy during your stay in Savoie, don't miss the Château d'Annecy and its rooms and the other museums in the region.