Château de Menthon-Saint-Bernard, fin XVIIIe siècle


Savoy has always been envied by its neighbors because of its strategic location and has long been an independent nation with its own history and traditions.


The first hunters appeared near the subalpine valleys and massifs during the prehistoric period, after the retreat of the glaciers (12,000 BC). Many roads were traced during the Roman colonization and several villages were founded at that time, including Aquae (Aix-les-Bains) and Lemencum (Chambery).


At the end of the 4th century, the region was known as Sapaudia after the arrival of Burgundians and then as Saboia during the ruling of the Carolingian dynasty, before the consecration of Humbert I “White-Handed” in 1030. Originally from Burgundy, he was the first count of Maurienne.

Between the 13th and the 15th century, the House of Savoy grew politically and territorially throughout alliances and battles. Its original territory (Savoy, Bugey, Maurienne, Chablais, Aoste Valley, valley of Suse, castellanies of the Viennois) extended to Faucigny, the Genevois, the canton of Vaud, the Bresse, the County of Nice and the lands of Piedmont.

In 1416, Amadeus VIII of Savoy was elevated to Duke of Savoy. This title gave great legitimacy to Savoy and its geo-strategic position at the European level. Its sovereigns were even named the “Gatekeepers of the Alps” as they controlled all its roads.



After a first period of French occupation in 1536, Savoy is given back to Duke Emmanuel-Philibert in 1559. As he considered that Savoy was too exposed to potential invasions and “looked beyond the mounts”, he transferred the capital from Chambery to Turin in 1562.

After the wars and occupations of the 17th century, Savoy is attached to the revolutionary France in 1792 and becomes the department of Mont-Blanc; it progressively took its current territory shape. In 1814, after Waterloo, the Congress of Vienna gave back to the Sardinian monarchy all its states.

In 1848, the "Statuto" put forward the emergence of a truly liberal constitutional monarchy. Savoy was then traded off for an alliance with Napoléon III, who was convinced by Cavour to help Piedmont unite Italy against Austria. Both men negotiated secretly, and after the battle of Solferino, the Treaty of Turin of March 24, 1860, stated the attachment of Savoy and Nice to France.

Italian principalities reunited likewise around the House of Savoy and a plebiscite was organized to ratify the annexation. In June 14, 1860, the French possession of Savoy was officialized at the Château de Chambery, which made it the most recent French province.

blason de la Savoie
plan de la Savoie, ©Google

map of the Savoy ©Google