Annecy is the prefecture and largest town of the Haute-Savoie department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of Southeastern France. It lies on the northern tip of Lake Annecy, 35 km south of Geneva, Switzerland. Nicknamed the "Pearl of the French Alps" in Raoul Blanchard's monograph describing its location between lake and mountains, the town 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 has remained stable, around 50,000 inhabitants, since 1950. However, the 2017 merger with several ex-communes extended the population of the city to 128,199 inhabitants and that of the urban area to 177,622, placing Annecy seventh in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region.