Chambles is a locality in the Loire department, in the Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes region, about twenty kilometers west of Saint-Etienne.
The territory of the town (18 km²) is located in the Forez mountains, culminating at 740 m above sea level, on the left bank of the Loire which dominates the gorge, enjoying an exceptional panorama.
This strategic situation explains the rich history of the locality where a Gallic oppidum is erected in the second century before our era. In the Middle Ages, he succeeded a castle on the site of the current town (twelfth century) and a castle on the noble hamlet of Vassalieux (thirteenth) and a third on the site of Essalois in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
But this dynamic is further accentuated in the seventeenth century when the lord of Vassalieux, Vital de Saint-Pol, initiates the construction of hermitages, priory and chapels throughout the territory of the current town. The Revolution marks the end of this golden age. In the 19th century, however, the castle of Essalois is restored.
Composed of a village and many hamlets, Chambles where there are nearly 1000 inhabitants now highlights the heritage inherited from its history, and the rural economy is complemented by its tourist attractiveness, the environmental framework has been preserved. The landscape was even enriched by the construction of the Grangent Dam in the 1950s.
So many arguments justifying a step!
If nothing remains of the old oppidum, the site is now forbidden (presence of holes and pits) after archaeological excavations uncovered important treasures (tools, amphorae), the historical heritage of Chambles remains very rich and justifies a stroll lined with many buildings.
This is the case of the seigniorial castle of Essalois, whose current face dates from 1580. Pilled, ruined, it is restored in the nineteenth century and two towers are even added. Intermunicipal property, its access is free at the end of a pretty road bordering the gorges of the Loire. It is advisable to climb to the top of the tower to enjoy a panoramic view of the river, the dam, and the mountains of Forez.
We continue with the old priory of Our Lady of Grace, which for its oldest parts dates from the early seventeenth century. Former college before the Revolution, it is partly dismantled then, and even burned. Restored in the nineteenth century, it is now split into two parts: the convent buildings are managed by an association and the old church converted into a dwelling is a non-visitable property. The site also remained in history for a news item: in June 1891, the infamous Ravachol assassinated a religious...
We continue this course with the tower of Chambles, 18 m high (as its circumference), and fortified walls one and a half meters wide. Dating back to the 9th century, this dungeon was to be integrated into a larger defensive system.
In the village, the church dedicated to Saint-Pierre was restored in 1830 on the bases of a medieval chapel. From here you can visit the heart of the village, where traces of its medieval appearance are still visible (fortification walls, old houses).
Below the village, the chapel of Sainte-Foy du Châtelet is the subject of restoration work. The interior is not visitable, but located in a clearing, the typical aspect of the building which dates from the eleventh century is worth seeing.
There is also the manor of Vassalieu, former seigneurial stronghold, several times rebuilt (it was mentioned since the thirteenth century). Orphanage then country house of religious oratorians in the seventeenth, it was sold as a national property during the Revolution. It is now a private property not visitable.
Finally, this discovery of the rich local heritage can include the hermitage of Val-Jesus (XVII), now restored and private, the remains of the chapel Saint-Roch (XVII), or the dovecote of the Guard (there were some legion until the 19th century).
In another register, the Grangent dam completed in 1957 to produce electricity and regulate the river is also worth a look. On the other hand, as for the lake born from the reservoir, it is on the right bank, opposite Chambles, that have
a marina and sites dedicated to recreation (beach), in the municipality of Saint-Victor.
Many hiking trails include the historical and natural sites of Chambles and its surroundings, some including the gorges of the Loire or forays into the Forez. Documentation and information on +33 4 77 96 08 69.
For fishing enthusiasts, the Loire and the lake can be real paradises. Learn about adapted sites and regulations at +33 4 77 02 20 00.
Finally, for the sportsmen, two tennis courts can be reserved near the village. Contact the +33 4 77 52 38 90.