Sub-prefectures : Albertville, Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne
Surface: 6,028 km2
Specialities: Raclette, tartiflette, fondue, crozets (small square pasta), diots and pormoniers, (pork sausage cooked with white wine), Saint-Genix (bun with red pralines), Savoy cake, Savoy truffles, bugnes (beignets), génépi (liquor), cheese of Savoie (Tome des Bauges, Beaufort…) Sport clubs: Chambéry Savoie Handball (D1)
Competitions: Since the Albertville Olympics in 1992, Savoie has hosted several international sports events in numerous disciplines: alpine skiing, rowing, handball, yachting, canoeing, Nordic skiing, cycling. Rowing world championships in Aiguebelette in 2015. Criterium de la Premiere Neige in Val d’Isere, alpine skiing World Cup in Courchevel, mountain bike World Cup, Criterium du Dauphine.
Festivals: Musilac in Aix-les-Bains, Estivales en Savoie in Chambéry, Le Grand Bivouac in Albertville, European Film Festival in Les Arcs
Main tourist sites: Hautecombe Abbey (Bourget lake banks), château of the Dukes of Savoy (Chambery), forts of the Esseillon barrier (High Maurienne), National Park of La Vanoise, regionalenature parks in the massifs of Bauges and Chartreuse, lakes of Le Bourget and Aigeubelette.
Economy: tourism, food industry, ecological industries, mountain industries, composite material, telecom, metal works.
Websites / FB / Twitter : www.savoie.fr / www.facebook.com/Savoie-Le- D%C3%A9partement-153155071431222 / twitter.com/SavoieDepart
AIME-LA PLAGNE (Pop: 4,450 h)
Aime is best known for the ski resort of La Plagne, which lies on the commune’s territory. The skiing domain of La Grande Plagne offers more than 225 km of pistes. The resort was founded in 1961 by then mayor Pierre Borrione, who wished to save a valley that could not live from farming alone. La Plagne was host to the luge and bobsleigh events at the 1992 Olympics in Albertville. Four Tour de France stages finished in the resort in 1984 and 1987 (Laurent Fignon), 1995 (Alex Zuelle) and 2003 (Michael Boogerd)
Réserve de la Belledone
MOÛTIERS (Pop: 3,600)
At the foot of the mountain road leading to the ski resort of Courchevel, Meribel, Valmorel, Les Menuires and Val Thorens, Moutiers became a bishop see in the Middle-Ages and retained a cathedral and a bishop palace. During the Renaissance, salt production became its main resource before another white powder secured its wealth with the ski craze of the 1960s. Several world class skiers hail from Moutiers (Michel Vion, Alexis Pinturault, Julien Lizeroux…)
The cathedral of the old diocese of Tarentaise, its was refurbished several times in the course of history. As a result, its architecture is as varied as the reconstructions. Christianity was organised in the valley from the 5th century. The first cathedral probably dates from this period but none of it remains. Several buildings were built on the site until the 11th century. Lombard architects and builders were then called to renovate the cathedral as it is now.
The mountains are the seat of the mineral kingdom. The Oisans massif is particularly famous for its crystal hunters who went looking for rock crystal at the price of vertiginous feats. These crystals were used for their intrinsic beauty, or to carve glasses or cups for kings. Wanting to imitate these crystal objects, the glassmakers ingeniously found the recipe for the "crystal glass".
MNHN – Patrick De Wever, professeur
LA LÉCHÈRE (Pop : 1,820)
In the heart of the Tarentaise valley, near the old village of Aigueblanche, the spa of La Lechere was launched in the early 20th century. It is ideally located close to the biggest ski resorts of the region. The commune was created in 1972 from the fusion of the villages of Notre-Dame-de-Briancon, Pussy, Celliers, Petit Cœur, Doucy and Naves. Occupied since the Roman era, the area thrived in the Middle-Ages thanks to the castle of Notre-Dame de Briancon controlling one of the most strategic valleys of the Alps. In the mid-19th century, chemical industry developed until the discovery in 1899 of the waters making the town’s wealth and reputation today. In1992, La Lechere hosted the main press centre of the 1992 Winter Olympics. The Games were an ideal opportunity to create modern facilities.
SAINT-FRANÇOIS-LONGCHAMP (Pop: 460)
The first ski resort in Maurienne astonishes by its magnificent mountain environment and an extraordinary view reaching as far as the Mont Blanc. In St Francois Longchamp 1450, spectacular hoodoos can be admired.
LA CHAMBRE (Pop: 1,150)
With its 1,200 inhabitants, the small town of La Chambre is at the heart of a road network leading to the Madeline and Glandon mountain passes and close to the most famous ski resorts.
Church of the Assumption:
The church, dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary became a collegial in 1514. Its beautiful Romanesque porch is a masterpiece of the 13th century religious architecture in Savoy and prefigures Gothic art.
Restored in 1995, the church can be visited every Thursday in the summer.
SAINT-JEAN-DE-MAURIENNE (Pop: 7 800)
Le Tour has made several halts in St Jean de Maurienne in the last decade with stages in 2010, 2012 and 2015. And the finishes suited the French with stage wins by Sandy Casar in 2010 and Romain Bardet in 2015. St Jean de Maurienne is the birthplace of the famous Opinel knife, stamped with the three fingers on St John the Baptist retained as relics in the cathedral since the 6th century. Today, St Jean is a town where sport tourism rules in the winter with the Maurienne ski resorts (La Toussuire, Valloire) but also in the summer, as the town claims to be the capital of grand fondo climbers with 48 cycling routes for 1,600 km of riding and ten mountain passes, six of them listed as HC.
St John the Baptist cathedral
Founded in the 6th century to shelter the relics of St John the Baptist, rebuilt in the 11th century and enlarged in the 15th century, the cathedral houses remarkable Gothic stalls. Under the choir lies a crypt considered as a masterpiece of Romanesque Art. Close to the cathedral, the cloister is a haven of peace and serenity.
Jacques Opinel, heir to the illustrious family and a cutler himself, now runs the opinel Museum, installed in the former manufacture in St Jean de Maurienne. In the forge with its ancient equipment, an exhibition retraces the history of cutlery in Savoy and especially the story of the Opinel family.
LANDSCAPE OF THE DAY
The emblematic Maurienne cols
As a counterpoint to the emblematic Col de La Madeleine and Tarentaise valley, the listed area of Etendard and Col du Glandon separates Savoie's Maurienne Valley (part of the Vanoise mountain range) from the regal valleys of Oisans further to the south. Col du Glandon and Col de la Croix de Fer are the main routes between these two valleys. This glacial landscape offers breathtaking views over Mont Blanc, contrasting with the industrialised Arc valley.
FONTCOUVERTE-LA TOUSSUIRE (Pop: 550 – 2,500 for the Les Sybelles domain)
Overlooked by the spectacular Aiguilles d’Arves, Fontcouverte- La Toussuire and the other resorts of the Sybelles skiing domain are familiar to the peloton, who rode their roads in 2012 and 2015 for stage wins by Pierre Rolland and Vincenzo Nibali. La Toussuire is also famous for its skiers, Jean-Noel Augert, who was slalom world champion in 1970, and Jean-Pierre Vidal, the Olympic champion in the same discipline in Salt Lake City in 2002. Lovers or religious architecture must make a stop at the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption church and the Notre-Dame de la Salette chapel, both fixtures in the Paths of Baroque Art in Savoy.
SAINT-JEAN-D’ARVES (Pop: 250)
Saint-Jean-d'Arves is a family resort in the heart of the Sybelles ski domain (310 km of pistes). The view on the Aiguilles d’Arves (3,514 m) is exceptional.
SAINT-SORLIN-D’ARVES (Pop: 360)
A village and ski resort at the foot of the Croix de Fer pass and the Etendard glacier, St Sorlin D’Arves provides a breathtaking view over the Aiguilles d’Arves. In winter, ski can be practised in the domain of Les Sybelles while summer is the time of trekking and cycling. The St Saturnin church (1603) belongs to the Baroque Paths circuit.
The family of fashion stylist Pierre Balmain is from St Sorlin. On his death in 1982, his ashes were dispersed on the glacier.
Population: 1.2 millions
Surface: 7,500 km2
Specialties: Grenoble walnut (AOP), cheese (Bleu du Vercors-Sassenage, Saint Marcellin), wines (Coteaux du Grésivaudan, Balmes Dauphinoises, Collines Rhodaniennes), Chartreuse (liquor), trout Vercors, Alpine meat (beef, lamb), antesite (drink), gratin dauphinois, brioche of Bourgoin, ravioles in Romans, murçon (charcuterie)…
Sport clubs: GF38 (football), FC Grenoble (rugby union), CS Bourgoin-Jallieu (rugby union), Les bruleurs de loups (ice hockey), Les ours de Villard (ice hockey), Rugby Sassenage Isère (women’s rugby union)
Competitions: Foulée Blanche (Nordic skiing), Coupe Icare (Free flight), Trail des passerelles du Monteynard (trail), Echappée Belle (trail), UT4M (trail), Rhône Alpe Isère Tour (cycling), semi-marathon Grenoble Vizille (running)
Festivals: Rencontres Brel, Jazz à Vienne, International Comedy Film in l'Alpe d’Huez, Mountain Film Festival in Autrans, Revolutionary fêtes in Vizille, cabaret Frappé
Economy: electronics, microelectronics, digital industry and software, medical technologies, chemistry and environment, energies…
Websites / FB / Twitter: www.isere.fr / facebook.com/isere.le.departement / twitter.com/CDIsere / instagram.com/isere.le.departement
SAINT-COLOMBAN-DES-VILLARDS (Pop: 190)
Halfway up the Glandon, amidst sprints and torrents and at the foot of the snowy summits os Samuis, Puy Gris or Argentieres lie two picturesque villages in the Les Villards valley, St Colomban and St Alban. The valley is the first access to the Sybelles, one of France’s largest skiing domains with 310 km of pistes.
ALLEMONT (Pop: 1,000)
Sometimes spelled Allemond, the village was once home to a royal foundry using the minerals taken from the local mines (silver especially). In the 1970s, the Grand-Maison dam brought a new prosperity to the town. In the hamlet of Rivier can be found two museums, dedicated to bouquetins (ilex) and to the plane crash of Marshal Traffod Leigh-Mallory, the highest ranked officer killed during WWII.
LE BOURG D’OISANS (Pop: 3,500)
Once bathed by a lake, which spilled over the valley in the Middle Ages, the town is known to Tour de France fans as the start of the climb to l’Alpe d’Huez. Renowned for its slates, its minerals and its salesmen, it is home to several winter sport champions like former slalom world champion Fabienne Serrat or former snowboarding Olympic champion Isabelle Blanc.
National Park of Les Ecrins
The most remarkable nature park in France invites visitors to discover its exceptional wildlife and flowers: chamois, marmots and royal eagles live here among edelweiss and tiger lilies. Created in 1973, the Nature Park of Les Ecrins is the main high mountain park in Europe. Its international vocation earned it a European diploma awarded by the Council of Europe. Split by deep valleys with strong identities, the park is a climatic crossroads between Northern and Southern Alps, hence an exceptional variety of landscapes and species.
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