This weekend we took at a quick day trip to Albertville France to explore our surroundings and of course check this one off the list! Famous for having hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics, you can see why. As we travel by train to discover a rich landscape of snow capped mountains at every turn they are there and obvious, beautiful mountains. A warm sunny day welcomed us and being Saturday we expected it to be bustling but lunchtime in France is always quiet and we should know this by now! So after a quick walk through the downtown core we found the Europe square and had a quick patio lunch before taking on the city.
After lunch we headed towards the medieval town of Conflans to explore this historic 14th century village. A quick hike uphill takes you to a very scenic old town full of narrow cobblestone streets and alleys, wonderfully preserved facades and homes transformed into little artisan shops. A really pretty area with so much to see and explore, we headed into the small church - Eglise Saint-Grat re-built in 1700 after a fire. It stands over this small village and is impeccably ornate with stunning colors and details. Walking around this village you must head toward the garden of “Sarrasin” where you can overlook the whole city and the glorious snow capped mountains of the three valleys of Tarentaise, the Combe de Savoie and Val d’Arly. As well, this garden boasts the great “Sarrasine” tower of the ancient castle. The main square is where you’ll find “La Maison Rouge” this ancient gothic palace built in 1397 in red brick, the first of its kind at the time using the Italians as inspiration for this construction type. The red house now hosts museum installations showcasing the history of Savoie as this area is known to be door to the Savoie region in France.
This medieval village has so many little alleys and hidden stairways to take you to new discoveries. I loved all the fountains, the little houses that were still very much intact and of course the pretty doors and shutters!
You could spend quite a bit of time exploring this area and we found it quite a shame that there was hardly anyone there on such a nice day. None of the shops were open on a sunny March Saturday which was odd. We certainly were surprised with the lack of tousists around and were disappointed that we couldn’t explore some of the artisan shops . The main square had one or two cafes open with large sunny patio areas but very few visitors…
After exploring the medieval area we walked back down and discovered a beautiful cemetary on the way with a backdrop of the mountains again, so peaceful and rich in history. We explored the city center a bit more but found it to be a bit dissapointing, sadly one of our least favorite city centers in France thus far. This is simply my opinion but I feel as though this town is lacking in a bit of love, the medieval area is such a gem and having traveled a great deal - this should be an area where you would see many tourists since Albertville is so close to Switzerland, Italy and France. So many go skiing in this area I wonder how this village can go unnoticed… The vibe in the city center was drab, on a hot day like it was we expected it to be bustling and we were mistaken, I really hope it is too early for tourist season and that this city gets more visitors as it does deserve it. We really enjoyed visting the medieval part but can’t say more about the rest of Albertville.
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