CHAMBERY - MAY 2005
Chambéry was founded at crossroads of ancient routes to Burgundy, Switzerland, and Italy. Its history is closely linked to the House of Savoy and Chambery was the Savoyard capital from 1295, when Amadeus V of Savoy made it his seat of power, to 1563, when Duke Emmanuel Philibert moved his capital to Turin. During this time, Savoy included a region that stretched from Bourg-en-Bresse in the west, across the Alps to Turin, north to Geneva, and south to Nice. Chambéry was also known for the Savoyard weapons used by many of Europe's mightiest armies.
"THE RUE DE BOIGNE, bordered with porticos, was opened between 1824 and 1830 thanks to donations of the general of Boigne. This street brought salutary ventilation to urban space, in spite of the regrettable disappearance of historical buildings… The new street became the centre of the city, where noble families settled… Stendhal wrote in 1837 in the Memories of a Tourist: «Such a convenient place becomes soon the meeting point of all that are bored and want to be distracted from a rainy day; cafes, luxury boutiques, literary salons, where one will spend one hour or two when the north wind blows or when one is bored at home… It rained today. I spent all my day under the porticos of the beautiful street of Chambéry. I thought of sweet Italy..."
"THE ELEPHANTS' FOUNTAIN, built in 1838 to honour Benoît de Boigne's feats in India, is the most famous landmark in Chambéry. It represents four elephants truncated in a column in the shape of the Savoy cross and though it was first hooted by the residents, it appears to have been accepted later. Remembering the dislike, the statue kept its nickname of «Les Quatre Sans Culs» (the four without arse(s)) sounding like the title of the movie of François Truffaut «Les Quatre Cent Coups» (The 400 Blows), one of the defining films of the French New Wave..."
"THE CHATEAU DE CHAMBÉRY is the old residence of the Counts and Dukes of Savoy. The first counts of Savoy settled into an existing fortress in 1285 and expanded it in the early 14th century to serve as residence, and as stronghold for the House of Savoy. As a fort it quickly became obsolete, and so remained purely an administrative centre, until Christine of France, Duchess of Savoy, returned to hold court in 1640. It is composed in particular of three towers built in XIV and XV centuries, of medieval dependences and a large main building of XVIII and XIX centuries built in the place of the old apartments of the counts. In the bell-tower, a Great chime is installed that sounds seventy bells. Today, it hosts the political administration of the department of Savoy"
"OPEN AIR SHOPPING - The old city is made up of a great number of old hotels of the Savoyard nobility. At the end of XV century, the noble families undertook the demolition of the old wooden houses and built new in stone which took later the name of «hotel», where the host receives his hosts. Here, however, we see mostly buildings of the twentieth century with shops..."
"PEDESTRIAN ZONE - The metropolitan area of Chambéry extends from the vineyard slopes of the Combe de Savoie, almost to the shores of the Lac du Bourget, the largest natural lake in France, and has more than 100,000 inhabitants. On a week-end, the pedestrian zone may become very busy"