Skiing just doesn’t get any better served than that found in this region. When you gaze at the mountains from any valley, what you can see you can ski-and it is most likely lift-served to some degree. Mountain restaurants are plentiful and the food is as good as anyone imagines when they conjure up French cooking. Make sure to test the tasty local specialties such as tartiflette, fondue and raclette.
Our trip starts out in the world known ski town of Val d’ Isere itself where the terrain is awe-inspiring and follows by basing down valley in the charming St. Foy. From St. Foy we have easy access to a great many ski areas including Les Arcs, La Plagne and even the Petit St. Bernard connecting Italy! The region is timeless and the skiing limitless.
The geopolitical boundaries of the Savoie have migrated continually since the Romans “civilized” it approximately two thousand years ago. Originally Sapaudia, anthropologists can trace hominid inhabitation here back 70,000 years.
In its “modern”context the Savoie was the domain of the House of Savoy. This, the oldest ruling house in Europe, was founded around 1000 by Humbert the Whitehanded. It was developed by the Dukes of Savoy and was made a sovereign state between the Kingdom of France and the Holy Roman Empire. In the early 1800’s the Dukes were clever enough to establish themselves as the Kings of Sardinia at which point the Savoie became a province of the Sardinian States.
The Savoie has always had a colorful history. One such example is a brief occupation by the Burgundians who, occupants of what now is western Switzerland, were chased over the high country into Savoie by the Huns in the latter 5th century. Described, thus, “the Burgundians are brave soldiers and good, but heavy and course people; they consume a lot of garlic and smell mightily since they are in the habit of greasing their hair with rancid butter”. Better them.
A frequent target of invasion by France, the Savoie was finally annexed by France during the French Revolution. The region was subsequently returned to Sardinia. The Dukes of Savoy, always looking out for a good career, move became the Kings of Italy in 1860 and the Savoie was given to France once and for all. Approved by plebiscite by the Savoyards, the transfer emerged as two French departments: the Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
The departmental seat of the Haute-Savoie is Annecy but modern mountain lovers will always focus on the small herding villages that once dotted the alpine landscape and have now been converted into perhaps the most sophisticated ski system in the world.