SAVOIE: La Haute Maurienne

From Chambéry through Bessans to the Averole valley, the routes go over two passes on the territory of the Duchy of Savoy, the Arnès pass (3,010 m), and its descent into the Ala valley, and the Autaret pass (3,072 m), which descends towards the Viù valley. Turin is reached through ‘Marguerite’s Lands’. This territory, the Lanzo valleys (Alà and Viù), ruled by the Laws of Marguerite written in the mid fourteenth century, remained
faithful to the House of Savoy in the sixteenth century.
La Haute Maurienne – Site 08

Modane (1054 m)

This large village, which also acted as a staging post on the road to Italy, is located half-way between Chambéry and Turin. After the inauguration of the railway tunnel in 1871 (the first cross-border tunnel in the Alps), it became a border and customs checkpoint. The entrance to the tunnel was moved in 1881 with the original opening still being visible. The Fréjus road tunnel was opened a century later.
The fort Saint-Gobain dates from 1933 and it is part of the Maginot line in the Alps. It was built as an underground bunker enabling its occupiers to be entirely self-sufficient for over three months. It is a reminder of the military function of the city which was the headquarters of an infantry garrison throughout the twentieth century. The Saint-Gobain fort superseded the defensive role of the forts d’Esseillon in the nineteenth century. The fort du Replaton, which has been overlooking the city since 1891, was built in the late nineteenth century to protect the Mont Cenis railway tunnel. In the district of Loutraz, there used to be a chapel dedicated to the Holy Shroud, now disappeared. The sanctuary of Notre-Dame-de-Charmaix has been a pilgrim site for the Maurienne and the Italian Piedmont regions since the fifteenth century. The current sanctuary houses a Black Virgin to whom many miracles have been attributed. Modane-Avrieux is the headquarters of the ONERA, the French national aerospace research centre. Wind tunnel no.1 (S1-MA), which was renovated in 2017, is the most powerful in the world in its category, and it participates in a number of aerospace programmes such as Airbus and Rafale. The Museobar exemplifies, to the sound of mechanical pianos, the festive atmosphere of the mountain town of Modane at the time when Savoy was annexed to France and when the tunnel was drilled.

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