All the joys of a white winter waiting just for you! These landscapes, with their "Scandinavian" charm, promise the simple pleasures of family holidays in the snow, at one with nature and enjoying very warm hospitality.
Peaking at 1363 metres at the Hohneck and 1424 at the Grand Ballon, this massif is deceptively rounded with gentle-looking slopes … but even so, it has some splendid skiing areas, in particular at La Bresse (34 mechanical ski lifts), and Le Markstein, with snowparks, "night-time" Alpine ski slopes, and lots of snow-blowers, just in case (270 at La Bresse), etc. And that's without even mentioning the smaller sites, often with wonderful tongue-twisters of names, like Schnepfenried (just say "Schnepf", like everyone else!), and they're not short of snow, either!
Of course the Vosges name - between Lorraine and Alsace - is a synonym for "soft" cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. Although… a "trapper" outing on the peaks of the Schlucht col, or a long rollerskating excursion in the thick "taïga" - a pine forest reminiscent of the far north - of Xonrupt / Gérardmer (100 km marked trails) could be pretty exciting, too!
And then, of course, there's the friendly atmosphere and the local lifestyle, the perfect environment for spending a family holiday in the Vosges. An excellent example of this is the "Fermes-auberges" or farmhouse inns (an unusual tradition, exclusive to the region, where the farmer or cheese-maker offers you a "marcaire" menu and his "home" produce), backed up by a reliable network of restaurants and other excellent eateries.
The main market towns down in the valleys are an additional bonus. Gérardmer
(on the Lorraine side) doses peacefully alongside its pastoral lake, but wakes up for a renowned fantasy film festival, "Fantastic'arts" (in January), while Munster
(on the Alsace side) holds in store an epic past and, of course, the fame of the eponymous cheese.
With its ridge at an altitude of 1718 metres (at the Crêt de la Neige), the folds of the Jura massif sing of the joys of mountains that may not reach record-breaking heights, but have everything you could want... Les Rousses, Métabief (with its pretty Mont d'Or) and the Monts Jura range (including Lélex and Mijoux, in Valserine) for example, have an important Alpine skiing area (around 50 km of pistes for all levels) and of course infinite cross-country skiing loops (including the famous GTJ, "Grande Traversée du Jura").
In the land of the Transjurassienne (a very popular Nordic skiing race in February, covering no fewer than 70 km!), ski jumps and frozen lakes, sometimes attracting snowkite fans, there is a very genuine atmosphere. While Mouthe, a typical village of the Doubs, is reputed for its great cold spells (with historic records of below – 30°C), the life style here warms hearts and bodies alike! A visit to the Comté cheeseries or the Percée du Vin Jaune – wine to be laid down to mature, the famous Cru d'Arbois - in February at Saint-Lothain will persuade even the most ascetic… And then there's morel gathering (when spring comes) and tasting Vin de Paille (the grapes are ripened on racks of straw before being pressed)!
In the glowing firelight, the country people talk about the stories of these mountains on the Swiss border; where in the past every family had to have one son a priest, one a customs officer and one a smuggler; how the people living in Hôpitaux-Neufs / below Métabief were mysteriously known as the "grey cats", etc.
Outside, the thick blanket of snow turns the Jura into a home from home for dog-sledding - from Bois d'Amont to La Chapelle des Bois and Les Fourgs, you can realise your childhood dreams and your thirst for adventure behind the sled dogs.
There are around a hundred museums and eco-museums that can tell you a lot about regional arts and crafts (clock-making, wood-based crafts, etc.).
And of course, Les Rousses and Monts Jura are close to Geneva (through the La Faucille pass) and Métabief (Frasne station) is just 3 and a quarter hours out of Paris by TGV!
Maison de l'Alsace, Paris
Tel: 01 53 83 10 00
Maison de la Lorraine, Paris
Tel: 01 44 58 94 00
Maison de la Franche-Comté, Paris
Tel. 01 42 96 08 43