Beautifully located in the French Alps, Chambéry is a lovely town holding rich historical heritage. Chambéry has been for several centuries the capital of the County and, then, the Duchy of Savoy. Today, Chambéry offers to visitors a magnificent view on the Alps, a well-preserved castle, a Piedmont-inspired historical centre, a superbly decorated cathedral, the Fountain of the Elephants and more.
Close to the main ski resorts of Tarentaise and Maurienne valleys, on a major way linking France to Italy, Chambéry is not yet a touristic milestone. Why not stop and go discover it? We do recommend a visit to Chambéry. Annecy and its lake, the Roman city of Aosta, the posh Geneva, Grenoble, Lyon, Turin, the lovely medieval town of Yvoire and further destinations are less than two hours away by car. Chambéry is a natural hub from where to explore the western Alps.
For several centuries, Chambéry has been the capital of the County, then, the Duchy of Savoy. At its maximum power, Savoy territories spanned from western Switzerland (for a while), down to Nice, on the Mediterranean Sea. This band covered all western Alps and its surroundings that belong today to France and Italy. Interestingly, still today, many of its inhabitants speak a cross-border dialect (Arpitan or Franco-provençal) which witnesses’ centuries of shared history.
Over the centuries, the County and Duchy of Savoy suffered from several invasions from the Kingdom of France threatening the western border in the neighbourhoods of Chambéry. Hence, in 1536, the Dukes of Savoy moved their capital eastwards to Turin. Chambéry suddenly lost its power. Today’s Italy was fragmented into several small states: Making Turin the new capital was a safer choice. Furthermore, Turin is closer to the weaker former Italian countries annexed during the 19th century.
In 1860, Savoy, as well as the former County of Nice joined France as a compensation for having contributed to creating the newly born Kingdom of Italy.
The Castle of Chambéry is the central landmark of its glorious history. Located in the city centre, it has kept well-preserved St-Chapel, walls and rounded towers. From above the top of its towers (only one is open to visitors), you can enjoy the stunning view of the castle itself, the historical centre and the entire area. Inside the castle, the mansion has been destroyed and rebuilt into a palace during the 19th century. This building, beautifully decorated in Piedmont-style hosts the administrative centre of the département of Savoy. Opposite, the St-Chapel of the Castle of Chambéry hosted for several centuries the Holy Shroud, which could be saved from a damaging fire in 1532. A copy of the Holy Shroud (the original is today in Turin) is displayed both in the St-Chapel and the Cathedral of Chambéry.
The centre of the town counts several historical coloured buildings, with arched alleys in traditional Piedmont-style. The Cathedral of Saint-Francis of Sales has been wonderfully decorated inside. It is the world most exceptional example of optical illusion recalling gothic-style arches and embellishments. The close by and imposing Fountain of the Elephants is a must for your visit to Chambéry.
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