Set against the spectacular natural backdrop of the French Alps, Chambéry combines a colourful cultural scene with easy access to some of Europe’s most famous mountain resorts.
It might be best known as a gateway to the Alpine ski villages, but Chambéry’s delightful medieval centre and distinguished history make it a true cultural gem. Wander through the sleepy squares and secret courtyards of the OldTown, take a tour of the medieval Château des Ducs de Savoie, or explore the perfectly preserved home of 18th-century philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau (890 chemin des Charmettes). The town’s archaeological heritage is traced in the Musée Savoisien (Square de Lannoy de Bissy), while the recently renovated Musée des Beaux-Arts (Place du Palais de Justice) houses a range of Renaissance masterpieces.
Chambéry is an adrenaline junkie’s dream destination, with ski resorts such as Aminona, Champéry and Rougemont just a short drive away. The warm waters of nearby LakeBourget are perfect for waterskiing, swimming, diving and sailing, while the lush foothills around the town are criss-crossed with hiking trails and bridleways. Hire a mountain bike at the Vélostation (Parc du Verney) and complete the scenically splendid Lake St-André bike loop, or enjoy a relaxing round of golf at 16-hole course Golf Club d’Aix-les-Bains (95 avenue du Golf).
A holiday to Chambéry from Southampton Airport represents the perfect chance to discover the Savoie’s small but highly productive wine region. Vineyards such as the Cave de Chautagne (Ruffieux) and Cave du Prieuré (Jongieux) offer tasting experiences, and you can sample the local vintages in style at upmarket Chambéry bistros L’Atelier (59 rue de la République) and Côté Marché (60 rue Vieille Monnaie). Wine, fresh produce and regional specialities are all on sale at the lively covered market Les Halles de Chambéry (Place de Genève).