by Caro Blackwell of Taste of Savoie
Living in Geneva we are lucky enough to be surrounded by interesting places to visit. Having lived in the Haute Savoie for many years, I thought it was time to visit Chambery, the capital of the Savoie region. Here I share 6 Things to do in Chambery which I enjoyed on my day trip!
Chambery has been the historical capital since the 13th Century when Amadeus V, Count of Savoy, made the city his seat of power. The city has a population of around 60,000 and is situated in a wide valley between the Massif des Bauges and the Chartreuse Mountains on the Leysse River. Just to the north of Chambery is Lac Bourget the deepest lake in France and the largest. Chambery is an attractive and lively town with an interesting history, wonderful old town and many landmarks to visit. Not to mention a good selection of restaurants and cafés.
SIX THINGS TO DO IN CHAMBERY
1. Step back in time in the old town
The old town has many cobbled streets and beautiful medieval buildings and Traboules – shortcut alleyways linking the streets. They are similar to the Traboules of Lyon. The Place Saint-Léger is the main focus of the old town and on the day of our visit there was a wonderful brocante down the Rue Saint-Léger. This Brocante (flea market) is held on the 2nd Saturday of each month.
2. Visit The Cathedral with its famous painting
This cathedral has one of the biggest examples of Trompe L’oeil paintings in Europe around 6000m2 by the 19th Century artists Sevesi and Vicario. The Cathedral was established in 1799 but built in the 15th Century. Having been extensively defaced during the French Revolution the interior was completely renovated in the 19th Century.
3. See The Fontaines des Éléphants
This is a 17.6 metre high fountain built in honour of Général de Boigne who dedicated some of his wealth made in the East Indies, to the town of Chambery. The fountain features four elephants but only their fronts, so the fountain is fondly known by locals as the ‘quatre sans cul’ which literally translated means the ‘bumless’ four. The Fountain is situated at the top of the Rue de Boigne.
4. Indulge in the sights, sounds and smells in Les Halles on the Place de Genève
A fabulous covered food market offering a myriad of local produce, meats, fish, wines, cheeses, charcuterie, patisseries, bread, flowers…Open Tuesday – Saturday in the mornings from 7am until 12.30.
5. Enjoy coffee with a praline brioche at a street café.
Sitting on the terrace of The Ernest Patisserie and café at 49 Place Saint-Léger, we enjoyed watching the sellers and buyers at the brocante.
We found very good coffee at a Scandinavian designed café called Café Initiés with a small square to sit outside on a pretty small back street called Rue Derrière les Murs.
6. Eat a great lunch
I narrowed my list down to three places I wanted to try which all looked wonderful. The place I finally settled for was L’Atelier, 59 Rue de la République and had a covered outdoor terrace which was perfect for this late summer’s day. Lunch was the menu du jour reasonably priced for 3 courses at €21,00 or choice of an entrée and plat or plat and dessert for €18,00 (prices correct at time of writing September 2018). The Chef proprietor Gilles Hererd has been at L’Atelier for 10 years after being responsible for the opening of Kilimandjaro in Courchevel, now renamed K2. During his career, he has worked under some very well known chefs including Paul Bocuse and Alain Ducasse. The food was delicious.
Chambery is about an hour from Geneva by car. There is plenty of parking all around the perimeter of the old town. There are many more interesting sights to explore including The Chateau des Ducs de Savoie which is a group of buildings constructed between the 13th Century and current times. See The Rotonde, which is a unique architectural metal structure, a railway roundhouse built between 1906 – 1910 by Gustave Eiffel behind the railway station. It houses around 50 locomotives and guided tours are offered.
There is a 2 kilomètre elephant walking trail around the cobbled streets of the historic centre of Chambery, taking in the main sights. Pick up a map at the tourist office on 5 Bis Place Palais de Justice, 73000 Chambéry and follow the little brass signs.
Alternatively, why not enjoy a two hour PRIVATE GUIDED WALKING TOUR of the city designed around your wishes, rhythm and schedule.
You can download a map of Chambery here which shows the main sights to see in the City.
There is also a tourist train that takes you around the Old part of the town leaving from Place Saint Leger every hour.