The Vosges Mountains: what to do, what to see…

Set in the heart of a remarkable area of outstanding natural beauty, the Vosges Mountains are a paramount destination in the landscape of Eastern France. In addition to the superb views, this is also an adventure sports center and an idyllic world of lakes and thatched houses. The Vosges Mountains serve superb food in a reinvigorating environment, which helps to make it one of the most refreshing destinations in France. 

Le lac de Gérardmer

This sublime lake of glacial origin, perched at 666 meters (1,988 feet) in altitude, is the largest natural lake of the Vosges Massif. With an area of 115 hectares (284 acres), its depth can reach up to 38 meters (114 feet). The lake is equipped with a marked hiking trail of 6 kilometers (3.7 miles). Many water activities are available, and swimming is supervised from June to September (only at the Union Nautique beach).

The blue line of the Vosges

Well known to the French, the Blue Line of the Vosges, which owes its name to Jules Ferry, represents the border between Alsace and part of Lorraine after they were conquered by the Germans in 1871. The "Blue Line" alone offers three hiking trails of seven to nine days each, with several opportunities loops of two to five days each. In addition to these trails for advanced hikers, there are 38 day trips for walkers of all levels.

Lac Blanc

This high-altitude lake of the Massif des Vosges is located in the municipality of Orbey. The name "The White Lake" comes from the color of the very light sand that lines the bottom. Situated at an altitude of 1055 meters (3,065 feet) at the bottom of a natural glacier, the lake is surrounded by enormous rocks (the most famous hewn into the form of a fortress called Hans Castle) and a fragrant pine forest. A statue of the Virgin perched on Hans Castle stands guard over the lake.

The Haut-Koenigsbourg castle

Visible from afar, the characteristic silhouette of this 12th century medieval castle, fully restored, has reigned over the Alsatian landscape for nearly 900 years. At an altitude of 757 meters (2,171 feet), in the heart of the Vosges forest, the château dominates the wine route, offering a breathtaking panorama of the plain of Alsace, the valleys and swells of the Vosges, the Black Forest and the Alps (when the weather is clear). The interior of the Haut-Koenigsbourg Castle transports you back to the Middle Ages: towers, bastions, dungeon, harrow and drawbridge, all is fit for a king.

The Merelle observatory

You need to boast a lion's heart (and not to suffer from vertigo) to conquer this superb (and quite physical) hike starting from the lake of Gérardmer. The tower—which only 4 people at a time can climb—casts a splendid panorama of the lake. The descent is also worth the price of admission, with waterfalls cascading in the background.

The must-dos of your trip to the Vosges Mountains

• Camp throughout the Ballons des Vosges Nature Park and spend the night in an eco-gîte 
• Nordic ski fans in Ventron
• Recharge your batteries at the balneotherapy (warm water springs) spa in Ribeauvillé
• Enjoy a panoramic view atop the Spitzkopf
• Go extreme canyoning at Seebach
• Spread your wings by paragliding above Treh-Markstein
• Get away from it all and explore the natural world with a snowshoe trek at the Lac Blanc ski resort
• Climb a sheer ice wall with ice axes and crampons
• Ruminate in the Jardin de Berchigranges
• Reveal your true beauty with a spa treatment at Plombières-les-Bains

Roam through the natural park of Ballons des Vosges

Lovers of nature and wide open spaces will be at home in this immense territory, created in 1989 by the initiative of the Grand Est and Bourgogne Franche-Comté regions. The park includes 198 municipalities spread over four departments: Vosges, Haut-Rhin, Territoire de Belfort and Haute-Saône. It covers 2921 square kilometers (1128 square miles), from the valley of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines to the gates of Belfort and Luxeuil-les-Bains. A key player in the preservation of heritage, the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park also contributes to the economic dynamism of this mid-altitude territory.

Cross-country skiing fans: head for Ventron

At the gates of Alsace in the heart of the Massif Vosgien, discover Ventron, a small family resort of stunning greenery at 640 meters (3000 feet) of altitude. The ski resort "Ermitage Frère Joseph," located 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) from the city center, offers more than 120 kilometers (74 miles) of trails marked by the Club Vosgien. From the family-friendly walk (La Cascade du Cuisinier and Ermitage Frère Joseph ski resort) to more advanced hiking trails, there is something for everyone here!

Relax at a warm-water spa in Ribeauvillé

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Between a few days of natural exploration and physical activities in the Massif des Vosges, come take a break at a warm water spa in Ribeauvillé and take advantage of relaxing in full view of the surrounding châteaux.
With two interior and one exterior pool at 34°C (93°F), five well-being cabins, a hammam, sauna, jacuzzi and solarium, the spa was designed to let in as much light and feeling of the surrounding environment as possible.

Reach the heights of the Spitzkoepfe

Experienced mountaineers can access the natural climbing site "Spitzkoepfe" by road at Metzeral. This unaccompanied and unequipped adventure playground is composed of granite ridges and has only a few rings. This climb is only accessible to experienced mountaineers, but the rewards are worth the effort: a jaw-dropping view of Lake Fischboedlé. Warning: check the weather before embarking.

Stretch your paragliding wings above the Treh-Markstein

If rock-climbing has not satisfied your search for thrills and breathtaking views of the Vosges mountains, you can also admire lakes and mountains from the air during a paragliding flight. Local free flight schools offer a variety of starting options, including discovery flights, two-seater runs and introductory courses. It's a bucket-list view of the Hautes-Vosges of Alsace!

Getting to the Vosges Mountains