Chambéry France is a charming Alpine town with a population of around 50,000. It is situated in the southeast of France is apart of the Savoie Mont Blanc region and definitely a place that pleasantly surprised me in all the right ways. It had everything that I look for in a weekend break, great local food and wine, rich history, friendly people and accessibility in getting there. Not to mention only a short distance from the airport.
You can visit the medieval Castle of the Dukes of Savoy in the old town and take in the historical exhibits. Then take a short walk over to the 1838 Elephant Fountain honors the 18th-century general Benoît de Boigne and the Chambéry Cathedral. Before indulging in one of the many local restaurants for lunch with a glass of wine.
If outdoors actives are your thing then that is not a problem because you can head over to the Lake Bourget which is Frances largest natural Lake for some hiking, swimming or biking. During the winter season, you have access to serval top French Ski resorts within an hour from town.
Chambéry France is a place you should definitely add to your European list, especially if you appreciate history, fine food and Savoie wines. With so many interesting things to do, see and places to eat, I can understand why it is popular amongst travellers for a European weekend break away.
Best Things to do
To help you get the most out of your time in this charming beautiful Alpine town from historical sites to explore to where to eat and drink. Here is a list of some recommendations of the best things to do in Chambéry France.
Table of Contents
- 1 Start your morning at the Fontaine des Éléphants
- 2 Marvel at the Château des Ducs de Savoie
- 3 Visit the Le Musée des Charmettes
- 4 Visit the Le Musée des Beaux Arts
- 5 Take a stroll through the Old Town and visit the Local Shops
- 6 Where to eat in Chambéry
- 7 Accommodation in Chambery
- 8 Location and How to get to Chambery France
- 9 Top Tips for Chambery France
- 10 Discover more of France And Europe
- 11 Video Highlights – Chambéry, Savoie Mont Blanc, France
Start your morning at the Fontaine des Éléphants
Fountaine de Elephants is one of the most famous landmarks in Chambéry and not to be missed while in the town. It is a great starting point for the day of exploring this charming town. Built in 1838 at a height of 17.65 meters, the fountain has four elephants, one on each side which all lack their hindquarters (you can only see the two front legs and the head)
It was constructed to pay tribute to General de Boigne (known as Count Benoît de Boigne) an important figure that helped shape Chambéry history, which if you look closely is his statue on the very top of the fountain.
- It gets really busy, so if you want to take great photos go here early in the morning or late afternoon.
Marvel at the Château des Ducs de Savoie
A 5-10 minute walk just up from the Fontaine des Elephants is one of the most impressive buildings in Chambéry, Château des Ducs de Savoie. Built during the 11th to the 15th century, it is a great place to explore and learn about history, especially about the Savoie region and how it was annexed to France.
Once home to the counts and dukes of Savoy, the stately stronghold has housed the Préfecture and Conseil Général of the Savoie département since 1860. You can visit a large part, like the La Sainte Chapelle Chateau de Chambery (Also known as the Holy Church), where the Turin Shroud was held between 1502 and 1578. The Tour Trésorerie (Tower), the semi-circular tower with the great staircase and various other areas.
The gardens and Cour d’Honneur (courtyard) are open free-of-charge but if you are interested in visiting the Holy Chapel and other parts of the castle, you can choose a guided visit with the entrance fee.
- You can visit the exhibition rooms from Tuesday to Sunday for free.
- Regular guided tours available and held in different languages, so I would advise checking beforehand.
Visit the Le Musée des Charmettes
One of the top historical attraction in Chambéry is Le Musée de Charmettes, the home that belonged to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, who was a famous French philosopher. It is a charming, little house with a surrounding 18th-century garden that is situated on the edge of Chambery city.
You can see some of Rousseau’s possessions inside the house including a stunning handmade palanquin used by Madame de Warens.
Even though it is just outside of town, around 2kms away, you still feel like you are in the middle of the forest. The mountains and the views of the mountains from the house are splendid and would make the trip up to Les Charmettes worthwhile.
Additional Information about Le Musée de Charmettes
- Open – Tuesday to Sunday between 10 am and 6 pm.
- Closed – Mondays and Bank holidays.
- Free Entry
- For 1 euro, you can get an audio guide which is worth it (Available in several languages).
- There is a car park for only 5 or 6 cars, so best to go early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
Visit the Le Musée des Beaux Arts
If art is your thing then a visit to the Musée des Beaux-Arts should be on the top of your to do list in Chambéy France. It is situated near the centre of town and across the road from the tourism office and super easy to get too. If you don’t want to walk then you can catch the tram which is only a few minutes walk away.
The art museum houses a large collection of Italian artworks from between the 1300s and 1700s. As well as works that help us to understand the history of art in the Savoy region. Other than the permanent collection the Musée des Beaux-Arts also holds temporary exhibitions.
Additional Information about Musée des Beaux-Arts
- Open – Tuesday to Sunday between 10am and 6pm.
- Closed – Mondays and Bank holidays.
- Open – Until 8pm the first Thursday of the month.
- During temporary exhibitions – 5,50 € Per Person or 2,50 € Concession
- Without temporary exhibition – 3 € Per Person or 1,50 € Concession
- Free for all the first Sunday of the month.
- If you need a break, there is a great coffee shop when you enter the museum, definitely worth a stop before or after your visit.
Take a stroll through the Old Town and visit the Local Shops
No one can resist the charm of a city’s Old Town and the one in Chambéry France is no different. A maze of colourful buildings with alleys scattered through and under buildings, local shops line the streets and colourful private mansions are what make the Old Town a great place for wandering around.
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Every corner you turn you find a delightful surprise, it was so pleasant strolling through the Old Town and checking out the shops. You can even do a guided tour, dans le centre Historique de Chambery taking all the historical building and sites of the Old Town.
- If you love cheese then you have to visit La Fromagerie, one of the best local cheese shops in Chambéry and test some of the cheeses.
Where to eat in Chambéry
Central Chambéry – La Forge Des Halles
If you are looking for somewhere to eat in central Chambéry then pop into La Forge Des Halles. It is not just a restaurant but also a shop that sells products produced and created by locals. You really feel like you are walking into someones home, especially as the owner is super friendly and chats with you like she has known you for years.
The menu is simple, homemade and really good, I find that sometimes when there is too much on the menu I start to get confused and not sure what to have. You don’t have that problem here, it is what seasonal vegetables are available and what can be made.
This is a great spot if you want to stop for lunch or even a break in between your exploring of the city.
Just out of Chambéry – Chateau de Candie
If you have a car and love both great food and Chateaus then Château de Candie is definitely a great option for food. Château de Candie is a historic restored 14th-century chateau set in a 6 hectare, forest-lined estate overlooking the town of Chambéry.
The chateau offers both accommodation and a fine dining restaurant and on a warm day, you can have your lunch outside on the shaded terrace, which looked stunning. When you combined great food and visiting a historical chateau together, it really is going to be the perfect setting for a great day.
The château features a gastronomic restaurant L’Orangerie which was featured in the Michelin guide 2017 and is where I had an unforgettable mouthwatering lunch complete with matching wine made on the premises. You can choose from a selection of three set menus, with inventive dishes expertly curated by the chefs or mix and match à la carte to create your own journey of unique tastes and flavours.
You can also stay at the stunning Château de Candie
The best bit is that if you don’t want to leave this stunning place, you can stay here. As the Chateau de Candie has guest rooms inspired by historical characters and an outdoor swimming pool if you feel like relaxing in the sun.
Accommodation in Chambery
Hotel Le Cinq Chambery
We stayed at the Hotel Le Cinq Chambery for the two nights, located in the centre and within walking distance to most of the tourist attractions. The main train station was 2 minutes walk and it was super easy to get to and from the hotel and I was carrying my bags and skis.
The hotel had a heated indoor swimming pool as well as a restaurant and bar area. They also had good WiFi in all areas, as well as in the rooms. Their service was really great too and they were always happy to help whenever I needed something.
- The indoor pool is a great way to relax after a day of exploring and before dinner.
Alternatively, the Petit Hotel Confidential is another great option for accomdation.
Location and How to get to Chambery France
Chambéry France is part of the historical Savory region within the Rhone-Alpes and near both Switzerland and Italian borders.
There are several International airports that you can fly into to get to Chambéry France making it very accessible. These are Lyon, Geneva and Grenoble, it really depends on where you are flying from and what is available.
Chambéry France does have its own airport Chambéry Savoie Airport where you can get direct flights from Paris, which is only 10kms away. However, flights from the UK only operate here during the ski season (December to April).
Chambéry is easily reached by motorway and most of the roads are highways with tolls and signs. If you do not have a car, I would suggest hiring one at the airport.
Then you can use it to get around the amazing wineries just outside Chambéry city and explore some of the beautiful Chateau’s in the area, like Château de Candie for lunch.
Alternatively, you can catch a train (TGV services) which is what I did as I was in Chambery for a weekend break between ski trips in Les Gets Ski Resort and Les Arc France. The train is super easy, not too expensive and the station is in the centre of town.
If you are coming internationally from Europe like UK, Belgium, Netherland then all you need to do is get a train to Paris then it is roughly around a 3 hour journey. A change in Lyon can also be a good alternative.
- The new TGV line service from Lyon-Turin TGV will cut the journey time from Chambéry to Milan (Italy) to under 3 hours and Chambéry to Paris to 2½ hours. You will need to check with the station when this will be opened.
Top Tips for Chambery France
- There are almost 80 kms of cycle routes throughout the Chambéry region, so hire a bike and go exploring. Not only will you have fun but you can keep fit too.
- Use the public transport where you can get 24-hour or 7-day tickets providing unlimited travel.
- Office de Tourisme in the city centre, next to the Palais de Justice and the STAC’s sales office in the Boulevard du Musée.
- If you have the time, head to Lake Bourget Frances largest natural Lake. It is only a kilometre out of Chambéry
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Thank you for reading this article ‘Best Things to do in Chambery France’, I hope it helped you to decide what to do and what to see while in Chambéry France or the surrounding area.
It is truly a beautiful place to explore especially for a weekend.
Have you been to Chambéry France before? Please feel free to share your experience in the comments below or if you know any other places to see while in Chambéry or the surrounding area.
Here are some other interesting fun things you can book while in Chambéry France
Video Highlights – Chambéry, Savoie Mont Blanc, France