Savoie, French for 150 years

It is to the sound of the song of the Allobroges - the Savoyard hymn - that Savoy celebrates the 150th anniversary of its attachment to France. The Pays de Savoie, proud of their cultural heritage, have created a new label: "150 years of French history in the Savoy region", a real label that accompanies the events. This summer, Savoy bends over backwards to commemorate its union with France, but also the first ascent of the Grande Casse, the highest peak in the region.

A little history of Savoy

The first Christians to arrive in the “land of fir trees” baptized the present Savoie Sapaudia in the 1815nd century. From the XNUMXth to the XNUMXth century, the territories of the House of Savoy extend and, from county, become an independent duchy in the XNUMXth century, under Amédée VIII who asserts his power. It is the golden age of Chambéry, which shines and becomes a real capital. During the Revolution, the Republic annexed Savoy to form the departments of Mont-Blanc and Léman. The Hundred Days make us lose it and it falls back in XNUMX in the bosom of the Sardinian kings, for less than half a century. A yoyo effect that puts Savoie at the heart of political issues. The Counts of Savoy, wedged between their big neighbors, Austria-Hungary, Spain and France, have always tried to form alliances allowing them to keep their independence.

Negotiations for the attachment to France began in 1858 when the Count of Cavour, president of the council of the Kingdom of Piedmont-Sardinia, met the Emperor Napoleon III in Plombières. A first step before Victor-Emmanuel II, new king of Piedmont-Sardinia, renounces Savoy. In exchange for its military aid to Italy to fight against Austria and its reinforcement to support Italian unity, France recovers the duchies of Savoy and Nice, the last territories attached to France.

The agreement is formalized by the signing of Treaty of Turin, March 24, 1860. Ratified by 98% of the votes, the popular plebiscite of April 1860 stifles the voices of the detractors of the annexation, who cry out for the dismantling of Savoy. The division of the territory into two departments: Savoie and Haute-Savoie is done in stride. Since then, the current Savoie Mont Blanc has not changed hands, even in 1944, thanks to the tough battles led by the resistance fighters on the Glières plateau.

The calendar of festivities

A century and a half ago, Savoy united with France, an event that the department does not celebrate… halfway. It is also and above all the pride of the Savoyards and belonging to a strong identity that are celebrated today. The presidential visit to Chambéry on April 22, the anniversary of the plebiscite, kicked off the festivities.

Until July 29, in the courtyard of the castle of the Dukes of Savoy in Chambéry, the 7th edition of the Estivales du Château brings together some good names in the music scene, including Murray Head, Hocus Pocus… In Chambéry, a conference will focus on “The Annexation of Savoy to France: a European question” from November 22 to 26.

In Paris, for two commemorative days, the flag with the white cross on a red background flew on June 9 and 10 in the Luxembourg Gardens. The bell, cast on site by the famous Paccard foundry and offered to the Senate, is a replica of "the Savoyard". This bell, the largest in France, rings from the top of the Butte Montmartre, at the Sacré-Coeur.

On the west shore of Lac du Bourget, on the grandiose site of Hautecombe Abbey, until September 19, the photo exhibition "Nice and Savoy, a contemporary look" is under the spotlight.

Pralognan, the Vanoise and the Grande Casse

It is definitely the year of celebrations in Savoie. Gateway to Vanoise National Park, Pralognan party in 2010 the 150th anniversary of the ascent of the Grande Casse (3m), concomitant with that of the annexation of Savoy to France. But it seems that, in this end of the world with its grandiose landscape, the expedition undertaken on August 8, 1860 by William Matthews, guided by Michel Croz and Etienne Favre, made a greater impression. To pay homage to this British pioneer who left to conquer the highest peak of the Vanoise, leaving behind astonished inhabitants, Pralognan launched a “historic roped party” to attack the Grande Casse.

This June 24, 2010, I follow in the footsteps of this unconventional rope: three guides in velvet pants, jacket, tie and hats, ignore modern equipment and cut steps in the snow with the force of their ice ax. For the neophyte that I am, an excitement mixed with anxiety makes me forget the sleepless night. My dormitory neighbors, with more prestigious pedigrees, members of the Select Alpine Club or the French Alpine Club, display the composure of seasoned mountaineers. Quotes burst forth, just to be reassured, but a few switchbacks further, while we feel more and more humble at the foot of the prestigious summit, we only hear the crampons crunching on the snow.

The conditions are optimal and the route of the Grands Couloirs, the most practiced and the easiest, does not present any technical difficulty, launch the two gendarmes of the PGHM who horn me for the occasion. I keep my apprehensions to myself when we have to keep the distance, crossing one of those snow bridges that hide a crevasse. But already, the day is breaking over the domes of the Vanoise and by traversing the summit ridge, we just have the impression of walking on a wire between Tarentaise and Maurienne. A striking landscape, with Mont Blanc just in front, which no longer seems so far in this new dimension!

It's exhilarating, dizzying, but on a slope of nearly 45 °, I quickly have to pull myself together, hold on again to ensure the last steps to the top. Up there, on the roof of Savoy, in a new rope bond born from a common effort, we embrace each other as usual, a happy smile on our lips, thinking of the mountaineers who preceded us on the traditional "Salt and tommes route".

To prepare your stay, consult our Alps sheet.

How to get there ?

Pralognan is connected to the TGV / SNCF station of Moutiers-Salins by Altibus coaches.


In Pralognan
- Hôtel de La Vanoise: chemin du Dou-des-Ponts. Phone 04-79-08-70-34. Double with bathroom € 70-80 in summer .. A brand under which travelers were already welcomed in 1875. Today it is a large chalet with spacious rooms on the whole, a rather pleasant decor, and with a balcony. most.

- Vanoise pass refuge (Félix Faure): tel: 04-79-08-25-23. Access: 2 hours' walk from the Génépi chairlift, crossing Lac aux Vaches. At an altitude of 2500m, this refuge created in 1902 is managed by the French Alpine Club. 150 places in dormitories of 12 people. This is the starting point for setting out to attack the Grande Casse.

Site of the 150th anniversary of the attachment of Savoie to France

Tourism in Savoie Mont Blanc

The Estivales du Château

Foundation for cultural action in the mountains

Pralognan Tourist Office

Pralognan Guides Office

A lire

- Nice and Savoie, a contemporary perspective: Maryline Desbiolles, Hervé Gaymard and Bruno Berthier, photos François Deladerrière Martitimes put into perspective thanks to the lighting of contemporary photography vis-à-vis the XNUMXth century engravings.

Audio Video Savoie, French for 150 years
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