Discover Alby-sur-ChéranGreat ideas for outings during the All Saints’ Day holiday!
Would you like to take a trip through time just a hop, skip, and a jump from Annecy to enjoy autumn’s charm during the All Saints’ Day holiday? From downtown Annecy, it’s only a short twenty-minute drive to the centuries-old village of Alby-sur-Chéran. Colorful houses line the main “Trophée” square, along with archways that contain artisan shops, narrow alleyways, and a magnificent fountain from once-upon-a-time… Setting foot in Alby-Sur-Chéran is like stepping back into the Middle Ages.
Plan your excursion ahead of time
Outside the summer season, groups of five or more adults need to make a reservation to visit the shoemaking museum and the old Blanchet candle making workshop. Make sure that you plan your excursion in advance. Avoid Mondays; the town’s shops and cafés are closed. Otherwise, the local farmers market sets up shop on Tuesday afternoons.
Follow the fly
The fun, educational “Suivez la mouche” (Follow the fly) interpretive trail offers the chance to explore the history and heritage of this medieval village in just 1 hour and 15 minutes. The name of this very accessible tour refers to fly fishing, a favorite local pastime on the Chéran River, as well as to the nails used by shoemakers to attach soles to shoes and whose heads look like the wings of a fly. When visiting the shoemaking museum your tour guide will explain the reference.
From the main “Place du Trophée” square, meander through the village to relive its colorful history through twelve designated sections. As you walk along the narrow streets and across historic bridges above the Chéran River, along the interpretive trail several informative signs talk about Alby’s past. Each section has a question to ponder, with the answer just a few meters away. Use the app ViAnnecy or visit lac-annecy.com to embark on this fascinating self-guided tour.
The shoemaking museum
It might seem surprising to stumble across a shoemaking (“cordonnerie” in French) museum in this small, inconspicuous village. However, from the 13th to the 19th centuries, Alby-sur-Chéran had a shoemaking-based economy. By the end of the 19th century, 300 people worked in the shoemaking industry (weavers, leather workers) and the village counted more than 70 master shoemakers; a lot for a population of barely 1000 inhabitants. This phenomenon can be explained by the fact that everything needed to make shoes could be found in Alby: the livestock needed for leather, the Chéran River to soak the leather, nearby fields of flax and hemp to make thread, and oak forests to provide the bark used for tannins. In 1870, during the Franco-Prussian war, the shoemakers in Alby were requisitioned to produce thousands of pairs of boots for the National Guard, and for years locals made shoes for the mail carriers in Savoie.
Free guided tours by reservation only for groups of 5 adults or more.
More informations : The shoemaking museum / +33 (0)4 50 68 39 44
© Gilles Piel / The shoemaking museum
Ciergerie Blanchet candle making workshop
A visit to Alby-sur-Chéran also offers the opportunity to visit a candle making workshop first established in 1860 by Jacques Blanchet in the basement of one of the homes in the village. Made almost exclusively for churches and religious shrines, Ciergerie Blanchet candles demonstrated a high level of craftsmanship that the Blanchet family continued to cultivate for three generations. Since closing in 1985, the workshop remains intact, as if frozen in time. The artifacts left in place make for a magical experience when visiting the workshop: pieces of beeswax and paraffin, old copper crucibles, basins used to cool the candles, cotton wicks still in the molds where the hot mixture was poured to form candles . .
€2 per person. 45-minute guided tours by reservation only for groups of 5 or more adults.
More informations : Ciergerie Blanchet / +33 (0)4 50 68 39 44
© Mairie d'Alby-sur-Chéran / Ciergerie Blanchet candle making workshop
Don’t miss this fun treasure hunt from October 28-30
Philippe and Jenny, the couple that took over the Les Petits Galets twelve years ago, used their incredible imagination to transform Alby-sur-Chéran’s cozy café-grocery store into a lively spot where locals love to gather. Five years ago they once again used their vivid imaginations to create “Alby Potter,” a Harry Potter themed treasure hunt. Just imagine a horde of Harry Potters, Hermiones, and Dumbledores taking over the streets of Alby-sur-Chéran, all flocking to the “Leaky Cauldron” (what the couple renames Les Petits Galets for the event) where they each receive a booklet with a plethora of riddles to solve. Teams of budding wizards enthusiastically ramble through town putting their brains to the test for this fun-filled quest.
From 16:00-19:00 on October 28, 29, and 30.
Anyone can participate.
More informations : Aux Petits Galets / +33 (0)4 50 32 35 44
The Chéran River takes its toll
Alby’s first inhabitants originally settled near the shallow ford in the Chéran River, along the main route between Annecy and Chambéry. For years this served as the only river crossing. Later on, locals built a wood bridge and charged a toll for the right to cross.
The gold rush
During the middle of the 19th century, the American West was not the only place in the world where people searched for gold. Gold panning also exploded along the Chéran River, whose 24-carat gold is supposedly among the purest in the world. In 1867, a local prospector found a 43.50 gram nugget.
Crédits photos :
- © Françoise Cavazzana / Alby-sur-Chéran street
- © Françoise Cavazzana / The roofs of Alby-sur-Chéran
- © Françoise Cavazzana / House facades in Alby-sur-Chéran
- © Françoise Cavazzana / Along the “Follow the fly” circuit in Alby-sur-Chéran
- © Gilles Piel / The Chéran river
Journalist : Aude Pollet-Thiollier
Translation : Darin Reisman