Croix du Nivolet (Nivolet Cross) – Chambéry, France - Atlas Obscura

Croix du Nivolet (Nivolet Cross)

Chambéry, France

This giant metal cross perched atop a mountain can only be reached by foot. 


The Croix du Nivolet, a towering Christian cross, marks the summit of the Dent du Nivolet in the Bauges subalpine mountain range in eastern France. The Nivolet Cross looks out over the town of Chambéry, the historic capital of the kingdom of Savoy. It also offers stunning views of France’s largest natural lake, the Lac du Bourget, in the neighboring town of Aix-le-Bains. On a clear day, even the snow-capped Mont Blanc can be spotted in the distance from the crest of the hill.

Standing at an impressive height of 72 feet, the iconic cross on top of the Dent du Nivolet (Tooth of Nivolet) is synonymous with the town of Chambéry in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region. Presently a popular skiing destination, Chambéry was the capital of the Savoie region, and its suburbs were home to the celebrated writer and philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The sight of the Croix du Nivolet is unmissable no matter where you are in this quaint little town.

First built in the late 19th century, the cross was folded in two during a hurricane in 1909 and then rebuilt a year later with reinforced concrete and an aluminum cover. The aluminum cover lends the cross its silvery shine, making it easy to spot from even the farthest parts of Chambéry. 

The only way to reach the Nivolet Cross is on foot. The best way to get there is an hour-long moderately difficult hike from La Féclaz, a popular ski station in the French Prealps. The hiking trail initially cuts through rolling meadows abloom with wild flowers and then becomes increasingly difficult along the rugged ridges of the Nivolet mountains. At the summit of the Nivolet stands the majestic metal cross, offering aerial views of the searingly blue Lac du Bourget, the town of Chambéry, and the Massif des Bauges.

Know Before You Go

The Croix du Nivolet can only be reached on foot and the hike takes a good one hour from La Féclaz.

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October 22, 2019

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