Closely connected to that of the House of Savoie, the history of Chambéry is rich in a millennium of diverse architectural and cultural influences and glorious and tragic events which have all shaped the town as we see it today.
The City of the Dukes
The town has the nickname the « City of the Dukes » because, having been acquired by the House of Savoie in 1232, it became the political capital of the Counts of Savoie in 1295 at the time of the purchase of the château and the official establishment of the Council which resided there until it was transferred to Turin in 1563. Nevertheless, Chambery remained the historic capital of the States of Savoie. Through their mastery of the great Alpine cols and the route to Italy, which earned them the nickname of Portiers des Alpes (gate-keepers of the Alps), the Counts, then Dukes, of Savoie, who became Kings of Sardinia in 1718, exercised a certain influence in Europe, notably by establishing a real laboratory of «enlightened absolutism». From 1792 until 1815 and since 1860, the town has been part of France.
Chambery is a water town as its ancient centre– and few people know this – is set …on piles! On marshy ground, millions of larch stakes support the buildings. With three rivers flowing through it – the Hyère, the Albanne and the Leysse – the town regained a more aquatic look in 2013 when part of the Leysse was finally uncovered. And although the lakes are not in the immediate vicinity, a large number of fountains help cool the town. The town’s symbol is the Elephants’ fountain (the locals’ favourite), which commemorates General de Boigne, a benefactor of the city.
A lakeside town
On the heights, the garden of les Charmettes encourages visitors to whisper sweet nothings. Jean-Jacques Rousseau spent his summers here close to his gentle « maman », Françoise-Louise de Warens. Laid out in the 17th Century style, the park perfectly shows off the philosopher’s passion for botany. The poet Alphonse de Lamartine, who was married in Chambery, lent serenity to this garden «flooded with scents and sunshine».
To reach the closest lakes, the town has a network of cycle trails of 83 kilometres, with the Avenue Verte, which to the north links the city to lake le Bourget and to the south meanders towards the Saint-André lake.
Taking the children to the Mottets beach (Lake le Bourget) with its la roselière observation area, a beach with lifeguards, a skate-park and games is even easier as the beach bus serves the banks of Lake le Bourget throughout the summer.
Source : Savoie Mont Blanc