For our last trip to the eastern part of France, we will discover Xonrupt Longemer and its surroundings. A city located in the heart of Les Vosges, near Gérardmer City

For many years, Xonrupt Longemer was part of the municipality of Gérardmer City. It was only in 1919 that the municipality of Gérardmer was split. This meant that Xonrupt Longemer became its own municipality. 

Back then, there were only 809 inhabitants in the town. In order to attract tourists, the town began advertising its beautiful lake in 1938 as a tourist destination. Unfortunately, in 1944, almost the entire village was burned by the Nazis whose aim was to slow down the progress of the Allies.

On November 11th, 1948, the town of Xonrupt Longemer was honoured with the War Cross 1939-1945. Presently, nearly 1.498 people live in Xonrupt Longemer.

Visiting Xonrupt Longemer 

Xonrupt Longemer’s Lake

Xonrupt can be roughly translated to “plank of wood on a stream”. This term refers to the wooden bridges that once allowed people to cross La Vologne river from one bank to another. Indeed, in dialect, “hhon” is a wooden plank, while “rupt” is a river. As for Longemer, it would mean “The long sea”. 

Xonrupt Longemer’s Lake is part of glacial lakes in the region. It stretches over 76 metres and measures 1.95 metres in length, 550 metres in width, with 34 metres depth. 

This lake is one of the most beautiful lakes in Les Vosges. It has kept its original features thanks to a less abundant flow of tourists. Despite some paddle boats and activities on the lake, fauna and flora are still a dominant feature of the lake. 

a wide angle shot of lLongemer's Lake
Xonrupt would mean “plank of wood on a stream”. (Image Credit: Giulia Fedele)

Retournemer’s Lake

Retournemer was, for many years, called “the lake from which one retraces his steps”. Indeed, people couldn’t cross the mountains so they had to turn back. This was the case before the opening of La route des crêtes.

Retournemer’s Lake is a natural lake, born from the over-digging of the glacial mountains for its granite rock. It stretches over 5 metres and measures 320 metres in length, 250 metres in width, with 11.5 metres depth. 

Close to Xonrupt Longemer’s lake, people can enjoy a wonderful walk between these two impressive bodies of water.

an aerial view of retournemers lake
Retournemer’s Lake is a natural lake, born from an over-digging of glacial origin in the granite rock. (Image Credit: Giulia Fedele)

Charlemagne Waterfall

Just a few metres from Retournemer’s lake, stands the beautiful Charlemagne Waterfall. 

According to legend, the waterfall takes its name from Charlemagne who quenched his thirst there in 806, while crossing Les Vosges massif to go to Alsace. This waterfall originated from La Vologne’s stream which starts below the Schlucht pass. 

The stream falls for tens of metres and splits in several waterfalls along the rock face. This is a stunning place both in summer and winter. Indeed, in summer people come to take in the freshness of the waterfalls and in winter they can enjoy the beauty of the iced waterfalls. 

Fairies Bridge – Le Pont des Fées

In the heart of a forest, crossing La Vologne river, next to Gérardmer and Xonrupt Longemer cities, there is a majestic bridge named Fairies Bridge. This medieval stone bridge has a very special history.

Legend tells that the Fairy Bridge owes its origin to a powerful fairy who gave great parties in her Saut des Cuves Palace. She used to invite knights who passed through and made them drink a potion. When they had lost all will, the fairy made them build the bridge during the night. The knights were then released at dawn.

Otherwise, some people just would tell that the real origin of the bridge’s name comes from the local name given to spruce: fie or fée, which means fairy. The Fairy bridge was rebuilt in 1782. 

In November 1944, this bridge allowed the light armoured vehicles of the First French Army to cross La Vologne river, whose bridges had all been destroyed, and follow the occupiers retreating on La Crête des Vosges. 

an aerial shot of Xonrupt Longemer
Xonrupt Longemer’s Lake is part of glacial lakes in the region. (Image Credit: Giulia Fedele)

Haut Chitelet’s Altitude Garden 

Located in Xonrupt Longemer, this garden displays the most beautiful plants, flowers and flora living in a mountainous climate. People can discover flora coming from French and European massifs, but also from North America and Asia. 

More than 2,500 varieties are registered: forest and stubble plants, peat bog flora, tree ferns, mountain shrubs, medicinal plants, and more.

In 1965, a new project to create a botanical garden was conceived. Work was led by two young French and German horticulturists, who worked tirelessly to allow their vision to happen. Today,  people can enjoy the beauty of nature everyday from 15th June to 30th September, from 10am to 6pm. 

Our pride 

Les Vosges are home to the wonders of nature and exceptional cities, but the greatest pride of the Vosges is Émilien Claude, the great biathlete. His main achievements are as follows:

  • World Junior sprint winner – 2021
  • Victory at the Young World Championship – 2017
  • Victory at the Lillehammer Youth Olympic Games – 2016
A picture of Émilien Claude holding one of his many trophies
The greatest pride of the Vosges is also Émilien Claude, great biathlete.
(Image Credit: Björn Reichter)

Our Little Tip For Visiting Xonrupt Longemer

In summer, wake up early in the morning, take your breakfast in your backpack (French croissants, preferably) and go to Xonrupt Longemer’s lake. 

Sit under a tree and listen to water, birds, and wind in the leaves. Enjoy the awakening of nature.

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