PlanetSKI Is In the Alps
21st September 2023
Last modified on September 23rd, 2023
We’re in Chambery: hiking at altitude, nosing round the ancient town, plus staying in a Chateau. We have a bit of time on our hands between matches in the Rugby World Cup. UPDATED
Regular readers know we are in France for 4-weeks during the qualifying stages of the Rugby World Cup.
We are following Wales, seeing some Argentina games, plus a few others as and when we get our hands on some extra tickets.
In between matches we are in the Pyrenees, the Alps and next up is the Jura.
We were in the Pyrenees last week.
Now it’s the turn of the Alps.
Chambery to be precise.
The town is a sprawling rather ugly affair from afar, despite the great backdrop.
But looks can be deceptive.
This is the old town at ground level:
The construction of the Castle of the Dukes of Saxony began in the 14th century.
It was first a stronghold then a royal palace with the seat of power and administration.
The castle has housed the Prefecture and the Savoie council since it became part of France in 1860.
The Hotel de Ville remains a central fixture of Chambery.
The centre bears more more than a passing resemblance to Innsbruck in the Tirol with its murals, architecture and narrow streets.
Chambery was the Savoyard capital from 1295 to 1563.
During this time, Savoy encompassed a region that stretched from Bourg-en-Bresse in the west, across the Alps to Turin in Italy, north to Geneva and south to Nice.
We are staying on the outskirts of the town at 4* Chateau de Candie in Chambery Vielle.
It is a beautifully restored 14th century building with 25 individual rooms with original period features.
We arrived at dusk.
By day our first impressions were confirmed.
It even has its own vineyard with Viognier wine produced.
And a wonky stone staircase that every proper chateau should have.
With a great view at the top.
It is owned by the company that runs Purple Ski and Ski France.
Guests have the option of staying here at the beginning or end of their ski holiday.
More of the Chateau later in a separate post – we have never stayed in Chateau in the Alps before so thought it worthy of note.
First it was time for a hike.
We opted to head to Croix du Nivolet that could be spotted (just) from the Chateau de Candie (it’s on top of the mountain).
It is in the Massif des Bauges area.
On the way up there were fabulous views of this part of the Alps.
The hike itself starts near Le Village du Nordique, which is a centre for cross country skiing in the winter months.
The distinct buildings certainly have a Scandinavian feel to them.
We even saw a person whizzing past on roller skis as she put in a bit of summer training ahead of the winter ahead.
The first part of the walk is ideal cross-country skiing terrain, through gentle high-altitude alpine pastures.
Then it was into the woods.
They had a Tolkeinesque feel to them – they were alive with whispers, mumerings and life.
Ancient woodlands, alpine or not, have their own distinctive feel.
We followed the path that is a snowshoe track in the winter.
It became steeper as we progressed.
After an hour or so we approached the top.
Then the cross itself.
The first cross was constructed in September 1861 and was 21.5 tall.
Another cross was be built and was installed in 1911.
It was replaced in 1960.
Lightening damaged it in the 1980s and it needed to be replaced.
The latest version was installed in September 1989.
There are spectacular views across the Alps and down towards Ax-les-Bains.
The lake itself
Check out the video from the Croix du Nivolet .
The round hiking trip took us just over 2-hours.
It was a proper alpine hike.
We’re now packing our bags, getting in the rugby mood and heading west to St Etienne for Argentina v Samoa on Friday and then Wales v Australia on Sunday.
Our stop in Chambery has been the perfect preparation for another weekend of rugby to come.
Come on Wales!
Do check back for that full report on Chateau de Candie as PlanetSKI stays in a chateau in the Alps for the first time…
It really was rather special: