Located in the northern Alpine foothills between the Bauges and Chartreuse mountains, Chambéry is a natural choice among Savoy's must-visit towns. Here are our top recommendations for visiting the town affectionately known as 'Chambé':
Saint-François de Sales cathedral:
Saint-François de Sales is a former Franciscan church erected as a cathedral in the late 17th century, and houses one of the largest collections of trompe-l'oeil paintings in Europe, extending over 6,000 m²! The Romantic style organ made by Augustin Zeiger achieved Monument Historique status in 1988 and was restored in 2001. Don't miss the 12th century Byzantine ivory diptych.
The Fontaine des Éléphants:
This sculpture is Chambéry's must-see monument and is particularly distinctive as it represents an unusual combination of three monuments in one: a fountain, a column and a statue representing four elephants joined at their hindquarters. This feature also gave it its nickname 'Les quatre sans cul' in reference to their missing behinds and a nod to a film with a very similar name. It's also a meeting point for Chambéry locals, just like the statue of Louis XIV in Lyon!
The Château des Ducs de Savoie and the old town:
In turn a fortress, princely palace and the emblem of the power of the Counts of Savoy, the outline of the castle looms majestically as you turn the corner of a narrow street. Today, the only part open to the public is the Saint Chapelle with its flamboyant Gothic style, but it remains a key monument in the history of Chambéry and the old town.
Explore the town's unexpected heritage and stroll through charming streets such as Rue Croix-d'Or and Rue Basse-du-Château!Visit Saint-Léger square a little further along, paved with pink rocks. Its floral backdrop and fountains make it a pleasant place to enjoy a drink at a terrace café.
La Maison des Charmettes:
High above Chambéry, in a natural, well-preserved environment, follow in the footsteps of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. La Maison des Charmettes was once a place of refuge for the philosopher who lived there for around six years with Madame de Warens, and today houses a museum. Step back in time within this beautiful country setting and stroll through the botanic garden that was so loved by Jean-Jacques Rousseau.The fabulous view over Chambéry is an added bonus.
Entrance is free, but I recommend taking a few euros for the audioguide (the average duration of a tour is 45 mins).
For more information, I recommend visiting the Chambéry Tourist Office website.