Did you know? 73 is the two-digit number allocated to the French departement of Savoie. Famous for its ski resorts, mountain cheese and breathtaking landscape, the departement includes the pristine waters of Lake Bourget and France’s first National Park, the Vanoise. If you like the mountains like me, then this departement should be in your bucket-list of places to visit in France!
The French departement of Savoie
The departement of Savoie holds the number 73 in the alphabetical list of French départements, between 72 (Sarthe) and 74 (Haute-Savoie). Its name is sometimes translated in English by Savoy.
Today it is part of a much larger region: Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes (formerly Rhône-Alpes until the 1st January 2016).
France’s most mountainous region
Most of Savoie is situated in the French Alps and borders Italy. The region extends from Lake Bourget to the north to the Belledonne range to the South, and from the Jura Mountains to the west to the Vanoise massif to the east.
Savoie is the most mountainous departement of France with 88.4% of its territory covered by mountains. Its average altitude is of 1,500 m above sea level and the departement’s culminating point is the Grande Casse in the Vanoise (3,855 m).
The departement includes some of France’s highest mountain passes: Madeleine Pass (1,993 m), Croix de Fer Pass (2,067 m), Galibier Pass (2,646 m), and between France and Italy: Mont Cenis Pass (2,084m) and Little-St. Bernard Pass (2,188 m). The Iseran Pass which connects the Tarentaise to the Maurienne valleys is Europe’s highest paved pass at 2,764 m.
The departement includes one of the three great lakes of the Pays de Savoie: Lake Bourget. Beyond the Mont du Chat, to the direction of Lyon lies the smaller Lake Aiguebelette. Other large artificial lakes include lac du Chevril, Lac du Mont-Cenis and Lac de Roselend. The whole region is found within the watershed of the Rhône.
A fast-growing population
The population of the departement is of 426,924 people in 2014 (called Savoyards) compared to 348,261 in 1990.
The capital city is Chambéry (pop. of 59,500) and other major towns include Aix-les-Bains (30,290), Albertville (19,000), Motte-Servolex (11,700), Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne (7,900) and Bourg-Saint-Maurice (7,200).
A departement with world-famous sites
The departement of Savoie has some of the world’s most renown ski resorts: Courchevel, Val d’Isère, Les Arcs, Tignes, La Plagne, Méribel and Val Thorens to name a few.
Savoie is a very dynamic departement and includes many touristic sites, some of world fame:
Aix-les-Bains and Lake Bourget
The Bauges Mountain range
Albertville and the medieval village of Conflans
The Vanoise National Park
Have you visited the departement of Savoie? Let us know where are your favourite sites by commenting below!