The ones travelling to the Vosges mountains are undoubtedly looking for natural beauty, tranquility and space. The Vosges are the perfect place for un bol d’air frais, a breath of fresh air. The succession of green round mountain peaks, the eternal presence of pine trees the Vosges are so well known for, and the immense feeling of peace and freedom that this mountain range radiates will ensure a relaxing stay.
In the Vosges you’ll never get bored, there is so much to discover. Tourism has existed here for years and continues to grow every year. The Vosges are very conveniently and centrally located near the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and Switzerland and are very popular for a weekend away or a short break. Despite the growth in popularity these mountains are still quiet compared to other touristic regions of France. There isn’t yet any mass tourism here and that’s why I can highly recommend a trip to the Vosges.
For outdoor and nature lovers there is plenty to do. In this article I give some tips: 7 things to do in the Vosges mountains.
Climb or drive to the Hohneck, the highest peak of the Vosges
At 1364 m altitude, the Hohneck is the highest peak in the Vosges department, not to confuse with the Nature Park of the Vosges that runs through the Vosges department and Haut Rhin department (Alsace). With a bit of luck, you can spot the great pride of the Vosges: the chamois, the mountain goat. Bring binoculars or a good camera and go there early or late to spot these animals. Or even better, go rock climbing and you will feel like a real mountain goat yourself.
In addition, the Hohneck offers a panoramic view of all the surrounding mountain peaks. In the distance, the black forest is visible and when skies are clear the view even extends to the mountain peaks of the Swiss Alps. As if you can touch them.
The Hohneck is also an excellent area for hiking. Both easy hikes to multi-day hikes are possible. The GR5, the long distance trail that goes from Maastricht through the Ardennes, Vosges, Jura and Alps to Nice also runs through this area. Here, you’ll be able to hike for hours!
Drive on the Route des Crêtes
A visit to the High Vosges is not complete without having driven this iconic road. Route des Crêtes is a ridge road that connects the main mountain passes and peaks of the Vosges Nature Park from north to south. From the Col du Bonhomme to Cernay, there is plenty to do on this winding road of no less than 88 km. Along the way you’ll drive past several villages, beautiful lakes, extensive chaumes (mountain pastures) and sweet round peaks: only natural beauty!
Nice to know is that this long road was constructed by Americans during WW1. The border between France and Germany was exactly on the heights of La Bresse. The highest point in La Bresse, the Hohneck, served as limit. Before this road was constructed, it was only open to traffic on horseback or on foot. Thanks to this built road, the French troops could be connected and military vehicles and supplies could go up the mountains. To thank the Americans, one of the roads leading to the Route des Crêtes was called “Route des américains”.
Challenge yourself on the Sentier des Roches
The Sentier des Roches is a true classic. One of the most beautiful hikes in the Vosges and therefore very popular. This hike leads along deep ravines, imposing cliffs, high mountain peaks, verdant meadows and offers beautiful views of the Alsace and the Vosges. The trail first runs along rocky paths where your legs and knees will be put to the test. Further, the trail has some challenging (technical) parts. Stairs, bridges, cables and rails help pass difficult sections. The second part of the hike is a little easier. Part of this hike takes you on the Route des Crêtes up to the Hohneck. This is actually a piece of Alps in the Vosges. A paradise for adventurous hikers!
The hike starts at the Col de la Schlucht, opposite the restaurant Le Relais des Roches. Follow the blue marks et c’est parti for a few hours of adventure!
Visit the highest top of the Nature Park of the Vosges: Le Grand Ballon
At 1424 m altitude, the Grand Ballon rises above the Vosges and Alsace. The Grand Ballon is located in the Natural Park Ballons des Vosges. In this park there are several peaks, three of which are called “Ballons”. From Cernay you can climb this mountain but with a thousand meters height difference this is a tough challenge. Fortunately, the top can also be reached from the parking lot of the Chalet-Hotel along the Route des Crêtes. Twenty minutes walk, and when the weather is nice you’ll have a wide view of the Jura, the Swiss Alps and the plain of Alsace. Beautiful!
Go for a hike on the grassy swampy plains of le Tanet Gazon du Faing
With its vast meadows, extraordinary wildlife and stunning views, this is an area many nature lovers will fall in love with. You will be embraced by 505 acres of natural beauty which cannot wait to be discovered. Hiking in le Tanet Gazon du Faing is a pure delight!
Be enchanted by the great amount of lakes in this region
In the Vosges you will find a wide variety of lakes, most of which are accessible by car. Around most lakes, you can hike, cycle and undertake many other great outdoor activities. This invites you to be active and explore the natural beauty of the surroundings.
Enjoy great food in a Ferme Auberge
Because you simply do not want to miss this, and because this is the ultimate reward after a hike in the fresh mountain air.
In the Vosges you can eat delicious (generous!) local dishes. Taste the repas marcaire, the traditional menu consisting of a soup or a tourte (veal and pork in puff pastry) as a starter and smoked pork, potatoes, bacon and onion as a main course. For the gourmets among us, the traditional cheese and delicious blueberry pie are also on the menu. You will enjoy all of these dishes in an intimate, relaxed and traditional atmosphere. As a bonus, you can go and see the lovely cows and calfs often present on and around the farm. Always fun!
On the Route des Crêtes: Ferme Auberge Les Trois Fours, Ferme Auberge Huss, Ferme Auberge Schafert.
In Ventron: Ferme Auberge du Felsach.
In the Munster valley: Ferme Auberge du Lac du Forlet.