Crossroads of Alpine roads, nestled in a valley and securely protected on all sides by mountain ranges, is Chambéry, the capital of the southeastern French department of Savoy in the Rhone-Alpes region. In Chambery from the first minutes you feel so at home that you are tempted to leave the hotel in slippers. Even the elephants in the famous local elephant fountain seem quite reluctant to peek out of their niches. There are no loud sights that attract noisy crowds of tourists, but there are many narrow streets, squares and fountains that invite contemplative pastime. See ANDYEDUCATION for education and training in France.
Chambery Tourist Office: www.chambery-tourisme.com
How to get to Chambéry
The small Chambery-Savoie Airport is located 8 km from the city and receives mainly winter charter flights from the UK such airlines as British Airways, Flybe, Jet2 and Snowjet.
From Russia, it is most convenient to land in Paris (up to 10 joint flights of Aeroflot and Air France from Sheremetyevo arrive at Charles de Gaulle Airport daily), and from there take a train to Chambéry. There are up to 30 trains a day from Gare de Lyon in Paris to Chambéry. Travel time on a direct TGV high-speed train is 3 hours, the ticket price is from 90 EUR, depending on the season. Chambery can also be reached by the TER regional express trains with a change in Lyon. In this case, get ready to spend about 6-7 hours on the road.
You can arrive in Chambéry by train from Turin or Geneva, as well as from other French cities in the Alpine region: Chamonix, Grenoble and Lyon.
Transport in the city
As in other European cities with a rich history, the center of Chambery is easiest to get around on foot: it is compact and many streets are pedestrianized.
If you want to see the sights of the city without any extra physical effort, you can ride a tourist train. A 40-minute drive through the historic center is offered with guide commentary. The train departs once an hour from Place St. Léger and runs from early May to late September.
For longer solo outings, you can rent a bike; Chambéry has 66 km of cycle paths. The Vélostation rental station is located at the city station. You can rent a regular mechanical bike or an electric car. In the first case, the rental price is 2 EUR per hour. Security deposit – 300 EUR (150 EUR for students and persons under 26). An electric bike will cost 4 EUR per hour, 14 EUR per day. For the opportunity not to pedal, get ready to leave a deposit of 1000 EUR.
You can also travel around Chambéry and its suburbs by buses of the regional company STAC. The cost of the trip is 1.50 EUR, there is also a single ticket for 24 hours of free movement for 3.20 EUR.
Shopping and stores
It is worth bringing a rather unusual souvenir from Chambery – a light, but very durable and sharp knife from the local Opinel factory will serve you faithfully for many years. Savoy knives are considered in France to be about the same unshakable symbol of quality as our Tula samovars or Gusev crystal.
Food markets with a variety of fresh farm products are held on Tuesdays and Saturdays in the morning on the Place du Palais de Justice. After lunch on Saturday, the place is given over to the clothes sellers.
Flea markets, where you can buy all sorts of old and new stuff of varying degrees of value, are held on the second Saturday of every month on Place Saint-Leger and Place de l’Hotel de Ville and on Sundays around the Chamnord shopping center.
Twice a year, on the last weekend of April and September, the largest flea market in the Rhône-Alpes region, the Grande Braderie (“Big Sale”), is held in the central streets of Chambéry.
For edible souvenirs, it is worth buying local wines (for example, Le Vermouth de Chambéry, Le Chambéry Frais, Le Bonal), cheeses, traditional sweets and pastries from the Savoie region.
Cuisine and restaurants of Chambery
Chambery has plenty of restaurants of all levels, from brasseries and numerous Italian pizzerias to fine dining establishments. Due to the fact that Chambéry is historically connected with Italy, there are many restaurants that follow Italian gastronomic traditions. L’Hypotenuse restaurant offers live music from Thursday to Sunday at lunchtime, a non-alcoholic Le Passage bar for a juice or coffee with a croissant.
Entertainment and attractions
In the medieval quarter of the historic center of Chambéry, there are many well-preserved streets and alleys. The most famous among them is the 13th century rue Basse de Chateau. A complete list of streets worth visiting can be obtained from the Tourist Office of Chambery, at 5 bis, place Palais de Justice.
Among the historical monuments, the castle of the Dukes of Savoy stands out in the first place, a building rebuilt many times with an abundance of medieval turrets, passages and courtyards. The largest bell ensemble in France is also located here – 70 bells of various sizes and tones.
On the first and third Saturdays of every month at 17:30, bell concerts are held in the castle.
Theater Charles Dulan (Le Theater de Charles Dulin) was built in the Italian style and was nicknamed “miniature La Scala”. Pay attention to the magnificent painted curtain depicting the descent of Orpheus into hell (the work of the famous master Luigi Vacca).
Built in the 15th century by Franciscan friars, Saint-Francois de Salle Cathedral houses several outstanding masterpieces: an ivory biblical diptych, a magnificent collection of medieval frescoes and an impressive organ (concerts are held every Sunday at 17:30 from July to September).
The Place du Palais de Justice is a wonderful Italian-style open space where you can relax after sightseeing. Don’t forget Saturday markets!
And, of course, do not ignore the most postcard view of Chambéry – the Fountain with Elephants, which is an arched structure with elephant torsos peeking out of its four walls – a very exotic sight!
It is also worth seeing the baroque church of Notre Dame (17th century) and visiting three local museums: the house of Jean-Jacques Rousseau in the town of Charmette, the Museum of the Savoie Region and the Museum of Fine Arts.