what to visit in Savoie?


Savoy offers a festival of nature, lakes, forests, passes and alpine mountains, crossed each year by the fiercest cyclists of the Tour de France and many hikers. The Savoyard nature is to be discovered almost endlessly, according to our desires: swimming, hiking, contact with flora and fauna, breathtaking views … This region also contains some little-known cultural treasures. Our columnist Jean-Bernard Carillet takes you to height to discover the jewels of Savoy.

Excenevex, a seaside gem

There are many lakes in Savoie where it is possible to swim. In Excenevex, for example, there is a real seaside gem: it is a beach on the shore of Lake Geneva, perfect for families. As it is not very deep, the water heats up easily. Indeed, the water temperature can rise up to 25 ° C during the month of August. The place is ideal for sunbathing. And on site, there is plenty to do in terms of activities: stand up paddle, pedal boat, beach volleyball or even rowing. It is truly a corner of paradise, very popular with Savoyards themselves.

The Col du Galibier, one of the most beautiful viewpoints in the Alpine chain

Even if Savoy is known to be the ideal place for long hikes, let’s not forget that the Tour de France passes there every year or almost. Several passes in Savoie and Haute Savoie have become legendary thanks to this competition. This is the case, for example, of the Galibier pass located at 2,642 meters above sea level. It links the Maurienne valley to the Briançon valley. The ascent by the north slope is 18 km, with an average slope of almost 7%.

At the top, it is the reward: there is on the one hand the Barre des Ecrins and on the other hand the Mont Blanc, one of the most beautiful views of the Alpine chain. Besides, this year there will be a nice stage on September 17, which will cross the two departments, between Méribel and La Roche sur Foron. You will be able, in particular, to make this route yourself by motorbike or by car, provided you drive quietly.

Lake Darbon, a natural place par excellence

If you are looking for nature, head for Lake Darbon, near Abondance, in the Chablai sector, a fairly remote region which is not very far from the Swiss border. It is a very small mountain lake, at 1,827 meters above sea level, which can be reached quite easily on foot, in two hours. And it is not for the lake or the hike that we come here but to see, for example, herds of ibex. It is one of the best ibex observation sites. We see them frolic or fight on the slopes of the lake. They are clearly not shy. If you are not sensitive to the charm of these herds of ibex, you can always have a good picnic on the banks of the lake, in the mountain pastures, in the midst of crocuses and gentians.

Savoyard cultural sites to discover absolutely

The Flaine station is to be seen. In this ski resort, there is no traditional pine chalet but a set of rectilinear buildings in rough concrete signed by the architect Marcel Breuer (1902-1981). We don’t like or we don’t like. It was a radical architectural gesture that sparked controversy during the station’s inauguration in 1968, but which has earned it the label “Heritage of the 20th century” today. This station has a very traditional and very angular side of the 60s, inspired by the architectural current called the Bauhaus. If they contrast with the natural reliefs, the buildings blend surprisingly well into the landscape. From the top of the slopes, Flaine fits perfectly into the mountains. The gray tones tinged with yellow of the concrete evoke the nearby limestone walls, while the dark wood joinery reminds the color of the spruces.

Another must-see cultural site: Hautecombe Abbey, on the shore of Lake Bourget, a gem of Cistercian architecture from the 12th century. This abbey is still active. The ideal is to approach it by the lakeside during a boat trip.

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