Perched high above the Combe de Savoie, Miolans was once a powerful fortress that controlled the center of the valley. It overlooks forest and vineyards, as well as the important trade road that led from Savoie to Italy.
Located in the département of Savoie about halfway between Chambéry and Albertville, the castle once belonged to the powerful Chevron-Villette family that controled much of what is now southern Haute Savoie and parts of Savoie proper. It now belongs to a family that purchased the castle at the time of the French annexation of Savoie in 1860.
The castle is divided into two main parts: the stables and servants' quarters are now the place of residence of the owners; the historical castle, now largely in ruins, is not inhabited but can be visited.
The historical portion of the castle was used as a prison in the 18th and 19th centuries, and was widely known as the "Alpine Bastille". Its most famous guest was the infamous Marquis de Sade who, despite the prison's formidable reputation, nonetheless escaped using the trite but proven method of torn bedsheets woven into a rope...
The prisons contain much ancient graffiti, and are impressive in their current, slightly dilapidated state. Divided into three levels. they provided prisoners with varying degrees of comfort, and were named, from the top to the bottom levels, Paradise, Purgatory, and Hell. Legend states also that an unfaithful lady of the castle was walled into a small room at the lowest level and died of starvation... this is indeed a cheerful place! The fortress walls, including an unusual underground gallery and an even longer sheltered access road, are in good repair and can be visited as well.