Saturday, 9 April 2016

Chambéry: The Case of the Crêped Crusader

And alas, we were to once again leave the magical Land of Pizza and Gelato. But! We would be returning to the Land of Crêpes and Orangina, so we weren't too sad.
On the drive from Turin to Chambéry, we paid an outrageous sum of €44 just for the right to cross the border. Okay okay, it was the fee for driving our car through a fancy new tunnel under a mountain range meaning we wouldn't have to spend hours following narrow treacherous roads, but I would have liked to be given the option at least. Before you knew it, you were at the ticket booth with no way to turn back. Tricksy tunnelses.
On the drive, we were surrounded by mist and snapped some pretty shots of the autumn-coloured mountains.

Chambéry, France (Chambéry, France)
October 2015
We visited Chambéry as it was on the way to Annecy, where we would be meeting up with Fabienne before heading further west into France and eventually Spain. Having booked an Airbnb in the burbs, we were welcomed very warmly by our host. She went well beyond what we were expecting and provided some of the best hospitality we've experienced (outside of Croatia, that is). She drove us to the supermarket so we could acquire provisions for the next couple of days, and then took us to a wine bar in the centre where she bought us drinks and we chatted for a while. She also gave us a brief overview of the city, and we had a little wander around some main streets. It was lovely to be back in France after such a long time in unfamiliar countries - in some regards it was like returning to a home away from home.
Feeling a little exhausted from recent fast-paced travel, we lazed that evening and much of the next day. I blame Florence, as we had used nearly every available hour in the city to make good use of our Firenze cards. No regrets! But we were burnt out, and especially museumed out. But still no regrets!
On our second eve we ventured out. What better way to spend an evening in France than to eat crepes, drink cider and wander the attractive streets? We did just that! In fact, we tried to head straight to the creperie Le Gulliver, but found many exciting things along the way.
One of the most iconic sights in Chambéry is the Fontaine des Éléphants, or Elephant Fountain. It was erected in 1838 to honour Count Benoît de Boigne, a 'military adventurer' who explored many poverty-stricken areas of India (which was not exactly a glamorous pasttime for a Count), learning of culture and religion. 
We strolled along the cobblestones streets of the historic quarter and even stumbled across the cathedral all lit up.

After finding that we had been walking in circles, we utilised the ever handy Googly Maps to set us on the right course to find the creperie. Our cidre doux was highly anticipated and did not disappoint. Finally, delicious and reasonably priced cider again! Yannick ordered a specialty galette of the Savoy region, which included potatoes, raclette cheese, bacon and egg, while I went with my customary chevre. We shivered all the way back to our car and resolved to shop for winter clothes the next day, as "Winter is Coming!" (And we were in the Alps, which isn't quite like winter in Wellington.)
Making good on that promise to ourselves, on our final day in the city we stocked up on warm clothing at H&M. I got two jumpers! And socks and gloves. No more frigid digits for me, thank you.
On the hunt for lunch, we miraculously found ourselves right next to Le Gulliver again and thought "Shall we?!" We shall. Once again, we feasted on scrumptiousness heightened by cidre doux.
Rambling along, we spied a haunted mansion! I did my best ghost whoooing noise.
Revisiting the four elephants, we walked the length of Rue de Boigne to reach the château. Halfway along, we stopped and looked back towards the fountain. The arcaded street with grey stone and pink plaster was breathtaking, and the hanging baskets of fuschia blossoms made it all come alive. 
The much anticipated château can be seen poking out from the top of the tree. Having been expanded greatly by the Counts of Savoy in the 1300's, the fortress was intended to withstand sieges. However, the château soon proved itself to be fairly useless in that department and was mainly used as an administrative base for the Savoy area. 
On the way back to the carpark, we poked around the Place Saint-Léger, which once again delighted us with the choices of colourful plaster.
What a beautiful city. Now with a bit of a feel for the French Alps, we were excited to explore Annecy, a smaller Alpine settlement where a beloved friend was waiting.

Today's post was almost called: French Feasts In Doux Course