Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes (SALLANCHES)

Set in 🏰 a historic 14th century château seigneurial (noble stronghold), located just behind ⛪️ the Eglise Saint-Jacques and next to the entrance to 💦 the Gorges du Lévaud in Sallanches, the 🏰 Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes is a museum dedicated to 🏔 the Alps (and mountains in general)!

The museum has just re-opened to the public, after an extensive 2 year renovation programme !

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Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes © montblancfamilyfun.com

Château des Rubins – a château seigneurial (noble stronghold): a little history

The renovation project (led by FRABRIQUE, a Lyon-based architectural firm; with the interior design from MAQ2, a firm located in Viviers-du-Lac) had high on its priority list patrimoine, the need to restore this historic Sallanches building.

The 🏰 Château des Rubins has all the features of a medieval nobleman’s stronghold: thick walls, a beautiful entrance door, a spriral staircase made of black stone from Magland, wooden beams, small decorated windows.

The 🏰 castle was owned by different noble families until the 18th century Révolution, and it avoided being destroyed during this period, as well as being spared by 🔥 the infamous Sallanches fire of 19th April 1840, whose flames destroyed a huge part of the rest of the town! Bought by the Ville de Sallanches in 1978, in 1985 it became the Centre de la Nature Montagnarde (CNM), a museum dedicated to the Alps, its geology, flora and fauna.

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Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes © montblancfamilyfun.com

The renovation project has put a spotlight on the history of the building and there is a juxtaposition of old and new throughout: films projected on old walls, old stone window seating v modern seating . . .

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Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes © montblancfamilyfun.com

You now enter the museum (after the modern ticket office) through the original formidable arched doorway, and so you immediately get a feel for the history of the building. You also access each floor (apart from the new lifts for 🅿 mobilité réduite or families with buggies) via the old spiral staircase, so as a visitor to the museum, you are constantly reminded of the original building.

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Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes © montblancfamilyfun.com
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Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes © montblancfamilyfun.com

A family visit to the 🏰 Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes

The new 🏰 Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes is the perfect destination for a family visit: it is an innovative museum (with over 50 interactive modules set across 500m2), with a varied, interactive and educational presentation. All of your five senses will be engaged on your visit, which will take you between 1h30 to 2h. 

For those already familiar with the original museum, the entrance has moved up a level: you now enter the museum via the montée des Rubins.

The museum displays are set across 4 floors, each with a different theme:

1° – 🪨 geology;
2° – 🌸 mountain flora & 🦅 fauna;
3° – 🧑🏻‍🦱 man & 🏔 mountain over time;
4° – 🌧☀️ water – an environmental concern;
You’ll find something for the whole family at this museum: 🎥 games and films for the children, 🖼 interesting information presented in an immersive and sensory way for adults and older kids (in 🇫🇷French, 🇬🇧 English and 🇮🇹 Italian), plenty of varied seating for the elderly (or simply those needing a rest!).
The museum has retained its resident taxidermy (🦌deer, 🐗 a sanglier, a gypaète and other mountain animals!), but don’t forget to head downstairs, where you’ll find the 🐻 famous bear and 🐺 wolf! 

I love modern architecture of the new museum, and especially as it is set against the backdrop of a 14th century castle; this has been beautifully realised:

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Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes © montblancfamilyfun.com

Events and workshops 

The new museum has a rich programme for the public and there will be events for children during the holidays:

  • UNE MONTAGNE DE RECHERCHES (Fête de la Science) – on Saturday 9th October / ASTERS will be present, and you can meet the scientists working across the 9 nature reserves of Haute-Savoie! / see programme;
  • Escape Game : La nuit celtique de Samain – on 28th October and 4th November 2021, at 18h, 19h30 and 21h / ” Quelle drôle d’idée de venir visiter le château la nuit de Samain, nuit maudite ! Vous voici bloqué au 6ème étage.
    Parviendrez-vous à ressortir de cette nuit hors du temps ? Déjouerez-vous les épreuves que vous réservent les êtres surnaturels du château ? Vous aurez une heure pour surmonter vos peurs et… trouver la sortie ! ” / price: 8€ / more information here;
  • La nuit de l’effroi ! – on 30th October 2021, 19h until 22h / “ Ils étaient redoutables de leur vivant, ils sont invincibles maintenant… Eux ? Ce sont les chevaliers morts-vivants ! Restez toujours sur vos gardes, ne leur tournez jamais le dos, tenez-les à distance, si possible en portant un costume effrayant. Lors de cette visite nocturne, découvrez le côté obscur du château… à vos risques et périls. ” / more information here;
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©Château des Rubins – Observatoire des Alpes

Practical Information
The museum has also been transformed to allow ♿️ disabled or buggy access to EVERY floor (which was NOT the case before the renovation!). There is now an extension with a modern lift available!

🗓 opening hours:

🗓 OPEN every day of the summer holidays (except Tuesdays), from 10h > 18h !

🗓 autumn opening: Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 10h > 18h;

🗓 autumn closure: 8th November 19th December 2021;

🗓 winter holiday opening: 19th ⇒ 31st December 2021, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 10h > 18h;

🗓 winter opening: 1st January ⇒ 13th March 2022, Friday, Saturday & Sunday, 10h > 18h;

🗓 spring opening: 13th March ⇒ 31st May 2022, Wednesday ⇒ Sunday, 10h > 18h;

💶 price: adults 7€ / children 5,50€ / under 5s FREE / 19,50€ families (x2 adults and x2 children);

address: Château des Rubins - Observatoire des Alpes, 105 montée des Rubins, 74700, Sallanches;
tel: +33 (0)4 50 90 83 03;
website: here;

🅿️ parking: there is FREE parking in the 🅿️ Parking du Lévaud, just opposite the museum;

🚲 bikes: there are now spots to attach your bike!

[ good to know: the museum is located a short walk from the 📚 Médiathèque Ange Abrate, the church playground and 🍏Sallanches’ Saturday market, so a day can be planned around this! For a buggy-friendly walk through Sallanches, see separate MBFF article here ]

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