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Sight-seeing in Chambéry

Having guests stay with you means you can finally be a tourist in your own town. Jessica, an English assistant from 2 years ago, was back in France to visit her boyfriend, and they stayed with us for 2 days before heading back to Annecy and then up to Strasbourg. Even though we’ve lived here for 6 months now, David and I still hadn’t really explored Chambéry much or visited any of the museums or sites downtown. On Monday we decided to go to the Musée Savoisien, which has a lot of archeological artifacts from thousands of years ago during the Roman rule and a special exhibit on 1939-1945. It was only 3€ and I found it really interesting, even if it reminded me that I really need to brush up on my French vocabulary (it took me forever to remember étain is tin and the difference between cerf and chevreuil, for example).

On Tuesday, we visited the cathédrale de Saint-François-de-Sales but it was a bit hard to see inside since there are few lights and it was cloudy outside. The entire interior is painted in a trompe l’œil design and it’s the largest one in Europe. We also visited the maison des parcs et de la montagne which is called an espace muséographique that teaches about the geography and animals of the natural parks in France, especially the ones around the Alps. There’s also a temporary photo exhibit that focuses on the 8 parks in this area that was really beautiful.

Afterwards we watched the film Les Chats Persans / No one knows about Persian Cats that was about a group of young people trying to form an underground rock band in Iran so they could leave the country and all of the obstacles (mostly from the government) that they have to overcome just to be able to do what they love the most. The film was actually shot (illegally) in Tehran in 17 days and it has a fake documentary feel to it. I’ve always been fascinated by Iran, but I feel so badly for the people who suffer because of the oppression. I can’t imagine living somewhere that censors and restricts everyone’s rights and not having the freedom to speak out against the government, or even leave the country.

So I’m glad we were able to have guests finally and therefore have an excuse/reason to get out and explore Chambéry. I could have gone without the mean beggar lady at the cathédrale though (she shouted radin! if you didn’t give her money), or the grumpy neighbor who kept pounding on the wall until 1 am because he thought we were making noise (sounded like someone hammering, but it wasn’t too horribly loud) when in fact, it was the apartment above us. He even had the nerve to tape a note to our door saying that the use of drills or tools that make repetitive noises is interdit after 10pm. I love how he just assumed it was us even though every single noise is this building echoes all over the place so you never know where any noise actually comes from. I’m pretty sure he woke up everyone in the building with his yelling out the window and pounding on the wall and radiator because that was about 10 times louder than the original hammering noise. Yet another reason why I hate living in an apartment…