DEPARTMENT OF SAVOIE : 73
|Savoie’s historic capital is Chambery.|
The 1992 winter Olympic games were organised in Savoie. The roads were greatly improved for the event and the A43 motorway now makes it very easy to travel from the train station or airport to most parts of the Savoie.
A large part of the department is made up of mountains:
-Massif des Bauges
-Massif de la Chartreuse
-Massif de la Vanoise
-Massif du Beaufortain
The lower part of the Jura mountains are also part of Savoie.
The Isère river runs through the department.
There are 2 main lakes here:
-lake of the Bourget, the largest natural and totally French lake in the country.
-lake of Aiguebelette the least polluted lake in the country.
|Hameau du Monal, près de Ste-Foy en Tarentaise (Savoie) - © RAT/S. Godin|
|The climate is specific to the department.|
During the winter it has a continental climate with temperatures of –4°c in the morning and 5°c in the afternoon.
In the summer it is more of a Mediterranean climate with temperatures of around 16°c in the morning and 32°C in the afternoon.
The temperatures do vary according to the wind as it can blow cold or hot air depending on whether it is blowing from the north or the east.
It is undeniable too that the altitude affects the temperatures.
What to do and see|
The Lake d’Aiguebelette extends over 550 hectares. Most of the shores are private but there are touristic infrastructures all around it.
To ensure that the area can be fully appreciated, there are themed itineraries enabling visitors to discover the historic heritage of the area, the monasteries and the wonderful panoramas. All of this information can be obtained from the tourist office in the Chartreuse.
The Lake du Bourget has a picturesque port that easily accommodates all types of boats. There is also a smaller marina, which is more leisure based with swimming pools and play areas. The lake’s eastern shore is sheltered by high limestone cliffs and benefits from a mild climate; there are even olive trees that grow there. The western shore is covered with delicious scented pine forests.
The parc naturel regional of the Massif des Bauges forms one of the limestone pre-alpine massifs that border the northern part of the Alpes. The massif is highly appreciated, not only by visitors from around the World, but also by some large mammals such as the chamois and there are many rare plants here too.
Le Revard is France’s leading cross country ski resort.
The park de la Vanoise was the first French national park founded in 1963. It contains no less than 107 lakes, that are 3 000m above sea level. As you can imagine, there is an abundance of plant and wildlife here, that creates some most rewarding promenades equal to any beauty spot in the World.
There are many, according to your particular taste but a visit to the lake du Bourget aquarium is an absolute must for a fascinating study of the teeming lake-life.
There is so much to see that this mini-guide can name but a few and urges you to visit for a finer appreciation :-
Chambery has often been referred to as, “being at the heart of Europe”. It has been populated since 1057 and has always been prosperous and animated and remains so to this day...
The architecture reflects its history with many buildings dating back to the 16th and 17th centuries.
There are also many painted decors that cover the walls, beware you could be mistaken… as to whether a window is real or a mere décor, the “trompe l’oeil “ are extremely realistic.
Rousseau was born here and the museum of Charmettes with its medieval vegetable garden is dedicated to his memory.
Aix-les-Bains is France’s second spa town. Its waters have been appreciated since the 4th century BC. Modern day sufferers go there to relieve rheumatism and to treat their chronic respiratory infections. The town’s architecture is fabulous and visitors are recommended to make the most of visiting in the day time and relaxing in the evening in this animated town.
Vineyards are spread out between Savoie and Haute-Savoie. The wine museum is a good starting point for a visit. You will discover the wine making process and the work of the vineyards.
The Beaufort valley is splendid and very green. There is a great contrast between the narrow gorges and the open valleys, a scenic feast.
You can also watch the Beaufort cheese-making process with a visit to the maturing “cave”.
The Tarantaise valley is renowned for its skiing and it is one of the largest winter sports areas in the world. Visitors abound in the Summer too, as the landscapes are remarkable and the mechanical lifts enable you to go to the very top of the mountains and view, what appears to be, the whole world laid out at your feet.
The Three Valleys form the biggest ski area in the world. It is an area so renowned for its beauty, at all times of the year, that it is a hive of activity during the day and the night in both Winter and Summer.
The Tarantaise has been inhabited for many centuries and there are many buildings that date back from the 11th century.
The Maurienne has many gallo-roman remains.
Visit St Jean-de-Maurienne that has a cathedral with the oldest wooden roof structure in France.
Le tour de France always has one or 2 stopping sites in this most beautiful of areas.
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