Annecy (French pronunciation: [ansi]; Arpitan: Èneci or Ènneci) is the largest city of Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeastern France. It lies on the northern tip of Lake Annecy, 35 kilometers (22 mi) south of Geneva. Nicknamed the "Pearl of French Alps" in Raoul Blanchard's monograph describing its location between lake and mountains, the city controls the northern entrance to the lake gorge. Due to a lack of available building land between the lake and the protected Semnoz mountain, its population remained stagnant, around 50,000 inhabitants, since 1950. However, the 2017 city merge extended the city population to 124,401 inhabitants, and 203,078 for its urban area, 6th regional position below Annemasse, which counts 292,000 inhabitants in the northern department. Switching from counts of Geneva’s dwelling in the 13th century, to counts of Savoy’s in the 14th century, the city became Savoy's capital in 1434 during the Genevois-Nemours prerogative until 1659. Its role increased in 1536, during the Calvinist Reformation in Geneva, while the bishop took refuge in Annecy. Saint Francis de Sales gave Annecy its advanced Catholic citadel role known as Counter-Reformation. The annexation of Savoy merged the city to France in 1860. Sometimes called "Venice of the Alps", this idyllic and touristic representation comes from the three canals and the Thiou river lying through the old city and whose initial role was to protect the city and to empower its handicrafts.
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