Chambéry France is a charming Alpine town with a population of around 50,000. It is situated in the southeast of France and is a part 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 that honours the 18th-century general Benoît de Boigne and the Chambéry Cathedral. Before indulging in one of the many local restaurants for lunch with a local Savoie wine.
If outdoors actives are your thing then head to the nearby Lake du Bourget, France’s largest natural Lake for some hiking, swimming or biking. During the winter season, you have access to several top French Ski resorts within an hour from town.
Things to do Chambéry
Chambéry France is definitely worth visiting, 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.
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. Let’s explore the best things to do in Chambéry:
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, 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.
- Location: Place du Château, 73000 Chambéry, France
- Opening hrs; 10.30 am – 6.00 pm every day except Mondays.
- Regular guided tours available and held in different languages. I would advise checking beforehand.
- You can visit the exhibition rooms from Tuesday to Sunday for free.
Hôtel de Cordon
Situated on Rue Saint-Real Hotel de Cordon is a 15th-century “Hôtel Particulier” (historic private mansion). That has now been transformed into a speciality Museum that showcases the history of Chambery and the Savoie region.
On its upper floor, there are interactive displays on local culture, heritage, design and town planning. There are also really interesting models and paintings that reflect the changing appearance of the city since medieval times.
I started my walking tour with Chambery tourism here and it was a great introduction to the city.
Location: 71 Rue Saint-Réal, 73000 Chambéry, France
- Double check when you book your walking tour if this is one of the sites you visit. As most walking tours visit here.
Make sure that have the right camera for taking walking around the Chambery.
Le Musée des Charmettes
One of the top historical attractions 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.
- Location – 890 Chemin des Charmettes, 73000 Chambéry, France
- 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.
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 to. 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.
- 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.
Stroll around 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.
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 buildings 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.
Lac du Bourget (Lake Bourget)
If you have the time, head to the beautiful Lake du Bourget, France’s largest and deepest natural lake. It is located only 10 kilometres from Chambéry and you can get there easily by public transport or car
Lake du Bourget is a popular holiday destination, with many things to do. You can partake in numerous water sports like sailing, swimming or paddleboarding. If you love cycling you can hire a bike for a few hours and ride parts of the lake.
Looking for other things to do on Lake du Bourget? Then hike one of the peaks beside the lake like the Dent du Chat which has views of Mont Blanc. You can also do paragliding where you get to take in 360° views overlooking the Riviera des Alps and Lac du Bourget.
- You can visit Aix-les-Bains at the same time as Lake du Bourget, as it is located on the lake.
Undoubtedly Chambery has some delicious local cheeses and wine but the city also has an amazing food culture. Influenced by French and Italian, Chambery cuisine is definitely worth trying. With even some of the recipes dating back hundreds of years.
Some of the cuisines to try while in Chambery are diots au vin blanc, which uses a local sausage called the diot. From the Italian influence try crozets, small square pasta pieces made with either wheat or buckwheat flour. You can have it as either a side dish or a main meal.
⇒ If you are interested in visiting the Savoy wine region and tasting unique wines, then look at Savoyard Private Wine-Tasting Tour
Here are a couple of recommendations of places to try Chambery cuisine;
La Forge Des Halles -Central Chambér
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.
Chateau de Candie – Just out of Chambéry
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 combine 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.
Stay at Chateau de Candie
The best bit is that if you don’t want to leave this stunning place, you can stay at the Château de Candie. 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.
⇒ Love Chateau? How about reading more on – The Stunning Chateau de Chantilly, France
Hotels in Chambery
There is a great variety of accommodation and hotels available within Chambery and the Savoie region. You can choose from budget hotels, boutique hotels and even historical Chateaus.
⇒ Check the current availability of hotels in the Chambery area France Chambery.
Want to spend an evening in a unique hotel on top of the French Pyrenees?
Hotel Le Cinq
We stayed at the Hotel Le Cinq Chambery for the two nights and had a really lovely time. The hotel was located in the centre and within walking distance to most of the tourist attractions. Hotel Le Cinq Chambery is a 4-star boutique hotel with a heated indoor swimming pool, a restaurant and a bar. 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 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.
Petit Hotel Confidential
Alternatively, the Petit Hotel Confidentiel is another great option for accommodation in Chambery. It is located in the old town and only 5 minutes walk away from Château des Ducs. Petit Hotel Confidentiel is a stunning boutique hotel that has been completely renovated and restored
It is considered to be the best hotel in France Chambery. Not just for its history but for contemporary decor and architecture. I had a personal tour inside the hotel and it was beautiful. I loved the quirkiness and the individual details of every room, none of them were the same.
- The hotel offers bicycle and car rental service upon request.
Getting to Chambéry
Being located in the Savory Rhone-Alpes region and near both Switzerland and Italian borders. You have several options in getting to Chambery, without any hassles.
Chambéry Airport (also known as Chambéry Aix-les-Bains Airport ) is only 10kms away from the city centre. However, Paris to Chambery is the only direct flight all year round there. During the ski season (December to April) though you can get direct flights from the UK to Chambéry.
Another option is to fly to one of several International airports nearby to Chambéry France. Making it very accessible all year around. These are Lyon, Geneva and Grenoble, it really depends on where you are flying from and what flights are available.
⇒ If you are flying from any UK airport to Chambery, instantly save on airport parking before you leave.
Driving to Chambery
Driving to Chambéry is easily reached by motorway with most of the roads being highways with tolls and signs. London to Chambery is roughly around a 10-hour drive (1028 km). If you are driving from Paris to Chambery it should be about 5-6 hours drive (569 km).
Hiring a Car
Alternatively, I would suggest hiring a car in Chambery or at any of the airports. Then you can use it to get around all those top sites and the Savoie wine region. As well as use it for day trips from Chambery to places like Aix-les-Bains, Annecy or even Geneva.
⇒ Check out Travel Supermarket for FREE, easy fast comparison on car rental in Chambery.
Getting a train
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.
⇒ Check out why these are The best Ski-In Ski-Out Places in France
- 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.
Popular trips from Chambery
Due to Chambery’s location in the Savoie region, you have endless options for visiting other cities and tours. One of the closest cities is Aix-les-Bain, which is only 20 minutes away. Here are some popular options for day trips from Chambery and tours you can do in each city.
- Annecy – 58.8 kms: Wine and Cheese Tasting Experience in Annecy
- Lyon – 110.6 kms: Lyon Old Town Food Tour
- Grenoble – 58.2 kms: Take a ride on the Grenoble-Bastille Cable Car
- Geneva – 87.7 kms: Chocolate Flavors Walking Tour of Geneva
More Tips for a trip to Chambery
- Tours; Why not take a private walking tour of Chambery and learn the history
- Public transport; get a 24-hour or 7-day ticket providing unlimited travel all around Chambery.
- Have 24hr access to the internet for looking up things to do and maps with a 4G SIM Card.
- For additional things to do, you can visit the Chambery tourism office. There are two locations, one in the city centre, next to the Palais de Justice, and the other sales office in the Boulevard du Musée.
- There are almost 80 km 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.
- The currency used in Savoie Mont Blanc France area is euro’s
Video Highlights of what to do in Chambéry
Discover Savoie Mont-Blanc France
Want to discover other areas within Savoie Mont-Blanc France in Summer? Below are some great articles on options especially if you love the outdoors and the French Alps;
- Les Gets France – What do to in Summer
- Morzine France – A summer guide, full of endless activities
- Chatel France – A village preserved in time
⇒ Make sure to have the correct travel insurance before exploring Savoie France. You can compare for FREE insurance and check what’s in the policy.
Thank you for reading this article about Chambery France, I hope it helped you in deciding what to do. It is truly a beautiful place to explore especially for a weekend.
⇒ Here are some other fun things you can book in advance before heading to Chambery.
Have you been to Chambéry France or the Savoie area before? I would love to hear about your experience in the comments. Or do you know any other places to see while in Chambéry or the surrounding area?