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LE DEPARTEMENT DE LA HAUTE SAVOIE

Blason_Haute_Savoie La Haute Savoie is part of Rhône Alpes.

History/Geography
Until 1860 the department of Haute Savoie was independent. The family that governed the region controlled all the routes through the Alpes. They were also linked to France to whom they had given numerous sons and daughters.

The department is close to Switzerland and Italy.
Le lac Léman is part of the border with Switzerland.
Le Mont Blanc, with its 4 807m and 4 388 km2 , rises in this area along the Italian border.
The department is divided as follows:
-le massif du Mont Blanc
-the Aravis which is in the centre of the department
-the limestone pre-alpes
-the start of the Savoie country
In the middle of all these mountains there are valleys such as:
-the valley de l’Arve that has traffic going from Geneva to the Mont Blanc tunnel
-La cluse d’Annecy with its beautiful lake

There are 9 natural reserves in the department.

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Annecy (Haute-Savoie) – © RAT/P. Blanc
Climate
It has a subcontinental climate and a mountainous climate in the higher parts of the department.
April and October are usually quite dry months
Annecy benefits from a micro climate which means that it is a little warmer here all year round.
The department has the best snow levels throughout the year because of the frequent rain.

What to do and see
puce Nature:
The lake d’Annecy is a model for conservationists and the area won a medal from the United Nations for its environmental programme. It is not particularly big but the attention paid to its upkeep as well as its beautiful surroundings makes it exceptional. The lake was formed as a result of the melting glaciers. The water reaches 20°C in summer.
Make time to visit the Gorges du Fier in Lovagny.

Merlet animal park shelters typical mountain species.

puce Activities:
Cycling is popular along parts of the lake d’Annecy.
The massif des Aravis if famous for its ski resorts but it is popular and certainly lively all year round and the landscapes are as beautiful with snow as they are without.
The montgolfiades du Grand-Bornand is an international meeting point for hot air balloonists and fun to watch even if you do not wish to participate.

It is possible to walk, hike or mountain bike in much of the mountain areas.
The towns and villages all have their particular characteristics lending an all encompassing charm to the area.

puce Sightseeing:
Annecy nestles between the Bauges mountains and the Aravis slopes. It is known to many as “the Venice of the Alps”. The town is rather splendid with its canals and cobbled streets. Around the lake the shores are very green and the lovely surrounding mountains can be seen reflected in the waters of the lake.
The area has been populated for the last 5 000 years and there is a rich historic heritage that remains. In the 19th century the town was an active industrial site, with a cotton factory, a paper making company and other smaller manufactures. Since the 1930’s the town has gained a reputation for its jewellery industries. Today, tourism is very important. The town has always been prosperous and this prosperity can clearly be seen in all its present day commercial bustle.
A visit to the town is essential and many will even consider that a property investment in the town would be a shrewd move.

Thonon-les-Bains is the third most important town in the Haute-Savoie department. It is a leading spa resort.
There are many medieval villages around the town which is well buttressed with the Duke of Savoie’s fortresses.

Evian-les-Bains is a beautiful natural site and time should be set aside for a visit, however brief.

The mountain villages, although renowned for skiing in the winter, are well worth visiting in the Summer too. The most impressive sight is of course the Mont Blanc. It is easy to ascend the ice mountain, by train or chair lift, in the summer but be sure to dress warmly as the temperature can drop by some 20°degrees. All of the valley towns and villages are linked to the mountain and the winter activities but the beauty of the area when dressed in its beautiful colourful Summer finery gives a whole new perspective on the area.

To actually be an inhabitant of this region gives a rich appreciation of its beauty and diversity and the scenery is something of which one would never tire Summer or Winter. It is commonly acknowledged as one of the most beautiful regions of Europe.

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