Chambéry is both the gateway to some of the finest skiing in the French Alps and an irresistibly charming destination in its own right.
Stroll around the narrow Medieval streets of its immaculate old town, and you’ll be treated to a stunning castle, impressive art galleries and family-run restaurants overflowing with character.
Arriving at Chambéry Airport
Chambéry Airport sits between the city of Chambéry and Aix-les-Bains, on the shores of Lac du Bourget. Grab a window seat on your flight for impressive views as you come in to touch down. The breath-taking peaks and ridges of the Rhône-Alpes region soar above the resorts, cities and lakes below.
Once you’ve landed, this friendly airport offers a bureau de change and a cashpoint for last-minute money, as well as a restaurant for your first meal in the region.
Flights from London City to Chambéry run during the ski season, and the airport admirably greets hordes of skiers and snowboarders arriving between December and April on their way to destinations like Courchevel and Val d’Isère. If you’re here for the snow, hop on a one of the shuttles buses, operated by Altibus and Trans’Neige, which run directly from the airport to most of the nearby ski resorts.
Alternatively, hire a car at the airport from one of the major European brands with outlets here and head in to the city. Chambéry’s centre isn’t far away – about seven miles (11km) – and accommodation options are plentiful. Taxis are also available for swift door-to-door service.
The most obvious place to get active in the city is the beach, Praia de Faro. While this is a great spot to do little more than laze on the sand with a cocktail in hand, it's also great for water sports, with surfing, kayaking and paddle boarding all popular options. There are numerous companies renting out equipment along the beach.
Faro is also home to several parks, all of which make a good setting for a run. There are a few parks in the city, which you can link together for a pleasant route, and the Rio Formosa Natural Park just outside the city has some beautiful hiking paths that are excellent for trail running.
For something a little different, try stand-up paddle boarding with Algarve SUP, a company based in the south of the city. Tours leave three times a day and last for two hours, following one of two routes. The first will take you through the beautiful lagoons and wetlands of Rio Formosa Natural Park, while the other takes you to secluded coves and caves along the spectacular Algarve coastline.
While there’s plenty to do in Faro itself, some fantastic adventures await outside the city. The following are all accessible within an hour from Faro city centre.
Ria Formosa Natural Park
This beautiful nature reserve occupies a swathe of islands and lagoons running parallel to the Algarve’s coastline. A boat trip is a fantastic way to experience the park, and a must for birdwatchers – you can spot egrets, flamingos and spoonbills, among many others. To experience the lagoons up close, kayak trips are available, while tours will also often incorporate birdwatching and guided walks.
As the name hints, this is one of the least-developed islands in the Algarve region, but it's easy to reach from Faro's ferry pier in about 35 minutes. Once you get there, you’ll find you have the beautiful sandy beaches almost to yourself.
The charming village of Estoi, around six miles (10km) north of Faro, is well worth a visit for its historic Palace of Estoi, with its grand rococo architecture. These days the palace is a luxury hotel, but you can visit for a wander around its immaculate gardens and to see the impressive tilework inside.