Savoie (pronounced [savwa]; Arpitan: Savouè, Italian: Savoia [saˈvɔːja], English: Savoy /səˈvɔɪ/) is a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region of France. Its prefecture is Chambéry; it is located in the French Alps. In 2016, it had a population of 429,681.
Together with Haute-Savoie, Savoie is one of the two departments of the historic region of Savoy; the Duchy of Savoy was annexed by France on 14 June 1860, following the signature of the Treaty of Turin on 24 March 1860. Savoie is known for its contribution to French cuisine with culinary specialities such as fondue savoyarde, génépi, as well as various sorts of saucisson.
It is widely accepted that Savoie takes its name from the Latin Sapaudia or Sabaudia, meaning land covered in fir trees. Savoie was long part of the states of Savoy; though beginning in the 16th century, it was occupied by France several times. It was integrated into the Mont-Blanc department from 1792 to 1815 (and partially into the Léman department from 1798 to 1814). The province was annexed by France in 1860. The former Duchy of Savoy became the two departments of Savoie and Haute-Savoie.
Savoie hosted the 1992 Winter Olympics, based in Albertville with ski events at Tarentaise and Beaufortain. The coat of arms for Savoie was used as a pattern for the flames in the official emblem of the games.
The other main alpine valley is the Maurienne, connected to the Tarentaise valley by two passes, the col de la Madeleine and the highest pass in Europe, the col de l'Iseran. The Maurienne valley was through the col du Mont Cenis, the major commercial route between France and Italy. It is one of the longest intra-alpine valleys in the Alps.
Much of Savoie is covered by mountains:
- Mont Blanc Massif
- Belledonne Massif
- Lauzière massif
- Aiguilles d'Arves Massif
- Massif des Cerces
- Aravis Range
- Mont Cenis Massif
- Bauges Massif
- Chartreuse Massif
- Vanoise Massif
- Beaufortain Massif
The department is crossed by the Isère river, which has its source in the Iseran pass. Its two main lakes are Lac du Bourget (the largest and deepest lake entirely in France) and Lac d'Aiguebelette, one of the least polluted in France due to a 1976 law forbidding any use of motorboats on the lake.
According to the Chambéry chamber of commerce, close to 50% of the department's wealth comes from tourism. Each year, Savoie hosts over 30 million visitor-nights of tourists. Savoie also profits from its natural resources with particular strengths in ore processing and hydroelectric power.
Savoie had an exceptionally high export/import ratio of 214% in 2005. Its exports rose to €1.768 billion and €825 million in imports. Its leading exports were steel, aluminum, and electric and electronic components.
Savoie is famous for its cows, which produce numerous cheeses, some of them are:
Apples and pears are also produced in the region and are well known for their qualities.
Residents of Savoie are known as Savoyards, though they can also be called Savoisiens (the historical name) or Savoyens.
- Chambéry: pop. 56,835 (209,535 agglomeration, of which 12,254 are in La Motte-Servolex)
- Aix-les-Bains: pop. 27,095 (44,490 agglomeration)
- Albertville: pop. 18,906 (43,225 agglomeration)
- Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne: pop. 8,507 (11,889 agglomeration)
The "average" (see arithmetic mean) population density is not a good indicator: the valleys tend to be much more densely populated, whereas the mountains tend to be near-completely uninhabited.
Tourism, which is quite important to Savoie, began to develop towards the end of the 19th century, mostly summer oriented. The increase in the popularity of skiing in the 20th century made Savoie home to the largest number of ski hills in France, including many famous ones:
- Les Arcs
- La Plagne
- Les Menuires
- Val Thorens
- Les Saisies
- Savoie Grand Revard
- Savoy - Historical region
- House of Savoy - Ruling dynasty of Savoy from 1032 to 1860
- Duchy of Savoy - Rulers of Savoy region from 1416 to 1720
- Kingdom of Sardinia - 1720 to 1860.
- Communes of the Savoie department
- Arrondissements of the Savoie department
- Cantons of the Savoie department
- Chambéry - Capital
- Lac du Bourget The largest lake in France.