Springtime has arrived . . . and while I dream of one day being in Japan for its famous springtime cherry blossoms, for now I am excited to share this little Sallanches town walk with you. While there is still snow on the higher altitude walks, why not take a leisurely amble through the streets of Sallanches, enjoy the spring blossoms and discover a little history as you go . . .
The walk that I am highlighting here would be ideal as a buggy walk or as a family walk. It would work with a smaller child on a push bike, as there is some open space along the way, but you would have to be vigilant as there are many roads to cross and the start of the walk has no pavement! Equally, older children will be happy as there are two playgrounds along the way!
Departure Point: Le Parking Château des Rubins/Levaud;
Arrival Point: Le Parking Château des Rubins/Levaud (round walk);
Timings: 45 minute leisurely stroll with a buggy (without stops at playgrounds or sit-downs in cafés!);
Highlights: springtime cherry blossoms; flower arrangements in the Place St Jacques, the Place Charles Albert and along the river; the playgrounds; historical landmarks in Sallanches; mountain views;
To start this walk, you will need to park in the free car park Château des Rubins/Parking du Levaud. Cross over the river Sallanche and turn right into Chemin Révérand Père Jacquier.
*(If the Centre de la Nature Montagnarde (Le Château des Rubins) is open, then there is a lovely gift shop on the ground floor, which is accessible with a buggy. If you are without a buggy, an alternative is to walk up the short flight of stairs at the Centre de la Nature Montagnarde; this will bring you onto Montée des Rubins, which joins with Place du Commissaire Chesney)*.
As you carry on along Chemin Révérand Père Jacquier (be very careful with small children and buggies, as there is a drop towards the river and no pavement here), be sure to look up and see the little Chapelle de l’Immaculée (built between 1855 and 1857) up on the hill above the Château des Rubins.
Aire de Jeux de l’Eglise
What do you know, you’ve arrived at your first playground, the Aire de Jeux de l’Eglise, on Place du Commissaire Chesney! This playground is one of our favourites and we come here often after a Saturday morning visit to Sallanches’ market or a visit to Le Centre de la Nature Montagnarde. It is currently having a bit of a face-lift, but there is still plenty that is accessible for all ages. There is a public WC in the small car park opposite.
La Place St Jacques
Sallanches’ church (Le Collégiale Saint-Jacques) dates from the 17th century, the original 14th century structure having burned down in the 14th century. The Place Saint-Jacques was recently renovated and it is a lovely spot to admire the springtime blossoms and planted greenery. There are plenty of benches and so this is a great snack or picnic stop . . .
If you are needing a coffee at this point, then the Café Saint-Jacques, on the Quai Saint-Jacques, is popular with Sallanches locals and in the warmer months there are tables and comfortable chairs set out along the riverside (le quai). During the summer months, there is live music here on Friday evenings.
Sallanches’ Pré-de-Foire is a large open space which is used for town events (Saturday’s market, March’s Le Bonhomme d’Hiver, April’s Carnaval, summer’s Les Enfants d’Abord, etc . . .). The rest of the time, it is empty and thus the perfect place to let chilren run freely, use scooters or push bikes (though do be careful as you are next to busy roads). There are some seats to relax in a little corner of the square and just across the road is a small amphitheatre, with grass and seats at the top.
La Place de la Grenette
Cross over the Torrent de la Frasse (small river that joins the Sallanche) towards the old covered grain market, La Grenette. A landmark in Sallanches, and the centre-piece of the Christmas market (it becomes an ice-skating rink in December!), La Grenette was built in 1868 with granite from Combloux. Be sure to look to your right, as the impressive remnants of the doorway to the Couvent des Capucins that used to stand in the Place Charles Albert, now reside here.
Le Lavoir des Tuileries
Cross over the road at La Grenette and turn right along La Route de Megève (*hold onto children firmly and keep them away from the side of the road, as this is the busy main road up to Combloux and cars go fast here!*). Take the first road on your left, rue du Commerce, and then cross the road as you will want to take the first road on the right, rue du Mont Joly. At the corner of rue Chenal, you will arrive at the Lavoir des Tuileries, which always has a pretty display of potted plants and flowers adorning it. Built in 1889 out of local granite, this structure changed the lives of the local washerwomen, who before this date had just fountains and rivers at their disposal to do their washing.
La Place Charles Albert
Walk down rue Chenal towards the main road, rue du Mont Blanc; here you turn left and you’ll arrive at the Place Charles Albert. There are plans underway to renovate this public square, as well as the whole riverside area of Sallanches heading towards St-Martin. For now, the square is divided in two: there is the paying car park and then there is the pretty garden area for pedestrians.
A bit of history . . .
Sallanches once housed two convents, before they disappeared during the Revolution: the Capucin Convent (built in 1619, it once stood in the Place Charles Albert and you can see its original doorway opposite La Grenette) and the Ursuline Convent (built in 1630, it once stood in the Pré-de-Foire). Before Sallanches was reunited with France in 1860, it was ruled by the Maison de Savoie. In 1840, a fire demolished most of the houses in Sallanches and it the town had to be rebuilt. The ruling king of Savoie at this time, Charles-Albert, entrusted his engineer, François Justin, to rebuild the new town; an aerial view gives us an appreciation of the grid-like design he conceived.
The Ancienne Poste (old Post Office) is used currently as a venue for temporary exhibtions. Last summer, to prepare for Sallanches’ role as Tour de France departure town for the “contre-la- montre”, the façade of the Ancienne Poste was painted by Zoer et Velvet from the Kill Art Factory. I really love their vibrant work.
Aire de Jeux des Quais
If you are needing a second playground stop at this point, then just cross the bridge, and here you will find the Aire de Jeux des Quais , another of our favourites (due to the fire-engine feature!).
Quai de l’Hotel de Ville
You are on the home stretch now . . . with your back to the playground, cross over the busy Avenue de Genève, onto the Quai de l’Hotel de Ville. The Hotel de Ville (Mairie), built in 1844, is where the Sallanches Tourist Office is located. It is worth going into the Tourist Office as there are plenty of free leaflets with ideas for family fun in Sallanches and the environs, as well as Tour de France memorabilia!
Continue along the quai, and you will find yourself back at the Place Saint-Jacques!
MBFF hopes that you enjoy this walk as much as we do!