Journey from Aix-les-Bains to Nice – Country Roads of France

Our drive from Aix to Nice took us through Chambery and then up into the hills, in the reverse direction that Napoleon took when he returned to France to reclaim his empire.  Chambery was once the capital of the Kingdom of Savoy.  In the 18th century, as with Annecy, it was a powerhouse of new thought and philosophy.  One of its interesting native sons was Benoit de Boigne who, like many freelance soldiers at the time, offered his service to a maharajah in India. Benoit was exceptionally talented and became the iconic example of such mercenaries.  As reward for his victories, he was paid fortunes in ivory and money, a lot of which he gave to his home town, and there are plenty of references to him there as a result!

In the main square, on rue de Boigne, is the Fontaine des Elephants, erected in 1838 to commemorate Benoit, the Comte de Boigne.  Unfortunately, when he returned to France at the start of the French revolution, he was guillotined, rather a sad end after so many adventures.

Helen Page

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