Getaway in the Vosges: 10 must-see places!
The Vosges department has a wide range of scenery and activities to please everyone at any time of year. The natural spaces afforded by this wonderful location will capture you, from skiing in the winter to trekking in the summer, and through the jumble of autumn hues heightened by the rugged scenery. The natural park of the Ballons des Vosges is one of France’s biggest, covering almost the whole department. As we shall see, culture is not to be outdone: join us as we explore 10 destinations in the Vosges that should not be missed during a visit to the Grand Est area.
The first destination is Gerardmer, a tiny but well-known town of 8,500 people famed for its La Mauselaine ski resort. It is the second biggest ski area in the Vosges range, with 40 kilometres of alpine and 30 kilometres of Nordic slopes. Aside from mountain sports, guests may take a walk around the city’s beautiful lake or browse the shops in the downtown area. Every year, cinephiles gather there for the worldwide great film festival, which will be hosted for the 29th time in January 2022. The gem of the Vosges provides a variety of activities for the entire family to enjoy.
#2 Do you want summits, here they are!
You have many options for exploring the summits of the Vosges, such as Hohneck (1363m), Petit Ballon (1272m), and Grand Ballon (1272m) (1424m). Drive along the ridge route and stop at each summit to recharge your batteries while admiring the breathtaking views of the country and sampling regional delicacies at one of the inns. The Route des Crêtes was built during World War I to serve as a critical defensive and supply route. The most experienced athletes may start on a multi-day path to conquer the peaks and passes and immerse themselves in nature. To your bivouacs, comrades!
#3 Lakes with magical settings
The Lac Blanc and Lac Noir are two of the department’s numerous lakes. Both are accessible through a parking lot, and may be circumvented with little effort. The excursion will not disappoint you, despite the fact that certain portions are rather steep. The treks provide panoramic views of the lakes as well as the surrounding woodland. The so-called “two lakes” trek, which takes around 4 hours to complete, is also an option.
#4 The confectionery of the Hautes Vosges
It’s impossible to leave Plainfaing without sampling the Hautes Vosges confectionery’s sweets! Handcrafted, there are over 35 different types of sweets (including 17 that are colourless) to tempt your taste senses. And nothing is thrown away! The broken candies aren’t thrown away; instead, they’re gathered and used to make a hot drink (with assured “inhalation” effect!) or a cold drink. The company also provides a free guided tour to learn about the process of making fir buds, eucalyptus sweets, and other Vosges resins. CDHV, which was founded in 1986, is a family company that is dedicated to preserving its history as well as the history of candy production: the candy museum details the manufacturing procedures of our favourite childhood treats.
There is just one step from the east of France to the huge American west here! The Fraispertuis-City park, voted finest French family park in 2004, has over 30 attractions. Thrill-seekers, water-park fans, and families will all find something to their liking! The park, which opened in 1966, receives 280,000 visitors each year (excluding the pandemic period of course). Choose a day in Fraispertuis-City for a sure change of scenery and priceless memories with your loved ones.
#6 A wellness cure in Plombière les Bains?
Why don’t you take a health break? Let’s take a break at Plombière les Bains, a spa town built by the Romans 2000 years ago! However, the city’s patron Napoleon III is responsible for the majority of the city’s thermal activity growth. This spa is suggested for treating digestive and rheumatological diseases in particular. In the centre of its ancient structures, you may also discover a change of scenery and relaxation. It has attracted numerous celebrities throughout the years, earning the nickname “the city of a thousand balconies.” Take a walk through the lanes of this picturesque hamlet nestled in its valley, which will soon have no mysteries left for you to discover!
#7 The Tendon waterfall
Let’s take a refreshing rest beside the Vosges’ tallest waterfall. The Tendon waterfall, nestled in a lush green landscape, reaches a height of almost 30 metres. A defined trail will take you on a 7-kilometer circle through the Vosges forest, where you’ll be able to see the tiny and huge Tendon waterfalls from different perspectives and cross little rivers. If you want to take advantage of the magnificent currents, this route is best explored outside of the dry seasons.
Epinal, the department’s first economic and commercial hub, understands how to emphasise its history. It is dominated by its mediaeval castle, whose ruins may be seen when wandering around the gardens and animal park, or while having a picnic while taking in the magnificent view of the city centre: The Moselle, which runs through the city, adds to its allure. Continue your exploration with a visit to the Romanesque Basilica of Saint Maurice of Epinal. Its tower-belfry and jumbled look are sure to pique your interest. Despite these historical treasures, Epinal is most known for its imagery, which is the world’s last still in use. An interactive tour will take you through 220 years of photos at the museum. You could easily spend a whole day on it!
#9 The Bernard Counot History Museum
The museum at Liffol-le-Grand is a must-see destination for history aficionados. Excavations on a Gallo-Roman site, supported by private contributions, have resulted in the preservation of historical artefacts from everyday life. You may see items spanning from prehistory to the mediaeval era after being greeted by volunteers.
#10 Altitude garden of Haut Chitelet
If you’re visiting the Vosges between June 1 and September 30, make sure to visit the Haut Chitelet altitude garden near the Col de la Schlucht to see some of the 2,500 alpine plants. The location is rich with floral wonders, including an altitude beech forest and a natural peat bog, and is located on the Route des Crêtes at an altitude of 1228m. The garden’s aim also includes the conservation of endangered plant species and the preservation of biodiversity.
The discovery of the Vosges often surpasses the neophyte’s expectations: this area is rich in natural, historical, and cultural beauties, as well as family-friendly activities. We have created a non-exhaustive list to depict an undoubtedly incomplete experience; it is up to you to fill in the gaps with your own wanderings. Enjoy your time on the peaks!