Paris, Nice, Marseilles, Lyon; these are the cities you would think about if you are planning a trip to France. But, if you take a step away from the famous cities’ flair, you will come across some fine hidden gems in France like Gérardmer, for example! Gérardmer is a beautiful French commune—which is a kind of small town with its own administrative division—located in north-eastern France.
In Gérardmer, nature surrounds you at 360°; you are in the mountains, and yet water is everywhere! Here, the forests’ green and the lake’s blue melt into a single, wonderfully matched colour palette. Situated in the heart of the Hautes-Vosges, at the crossroads between Lorraine and Alsace, in a region of glacial lakes, Gérardmer dominates a superb natural setting. Gérardmer and its surroundings offer its visitors a wide range of entertainment.
In summer, hikers can give free rein to their enthusiasm: from the lake and the town centre, most of the paths are signposted and invite you on an excursion during which the beauty of the landscape will leave you breathless. On the banks of the lake, you can choose between various water sports such as sailing, canoeing, water skiing and others, while in winter, snow sports are always a big hit here. The Mauselane ski area guarantees good snow cover on more than 40 km of slopes for downhill and cross-country skiing.
In terms of culture, although the bombings of World War II did not spare Gérardmer, robbing it of much of its Belle Époque charm, don’t be swayed by the somewhat austere modern town. The centre of Gérardmer, with its lively shops, casino, theatre, skating rink, a wide choice of restaurants from the chicest to the brasserie and a festival famous throughout France, ensures a programme that will not disappoint.
The lake of Gérardmer is located at an altitude of 660m, stretching for 1.16 m. It is the biggest natural lake in the massif! The impressive Gerardmer lake flows into the Vologne via a short river called the Jamagne. The paths, beaches and tracks around the lake are perfect for many summer and winter activities. In summer, there are different water sports, such as rowing, pedal boats, paddle boats and canoes. You can also go kayaking or go swimming.
While in winter, the lake freezes over completely, turning into a natural ice rink, much to the delight of its visitors, who get their skates and enjoy the lake! If water sports are not your thing, then you should consider hiking! Opt for the 7-kilometre trail that will take you around the lake in less than 2 hours. The setting is simply sublime!
Around the picturesque lake Gerardmer are hotels and flat complexes at the foot of the mountains. If you feel like it, you can stay in a hotel close by and enjoy the panorama of the lake and mountains directly from your terrace.
Located about 20 minutes by car from Gérardmer, you will discover a superb example of an extraordinary ecosystem: the bog. A three-kilometre-long trail leads around Lispach lake, with information panels presenting the main characteristics of these bogs. This lake is nicknamed ‘the mirror with 1000 reflections’! Its little chapel and hut on the water’s edge have so much charm.
The Wesserling Park, located in the Haut-Rhin, is a 42-hectare park dedicated to the region’s textile industry. This park, with its textile eco-museum and its five gardens classified as “remarkable gardens”, was classified as a historical monument in 1998! The park used to be a royal textile factory, and now it is a tribute to the textile of the region from the 18th century to the 21st century. Besides the gorgeous five gardens, the park also houses the Wesserling Park Textile Museum. The museum will take you on a journey to examine the history of the park and the textile in the region through lively artistic approaches.
The Tendon Waterfalls
The Tendon waterfalls are probably the best-known attraction in the region. The waterfalls are the tallest of their kind in the whole region of Vosges. There is a car park near the larger one (32m high), and you can reach the smaller one by following a 2km path (you can also get there by car). Take a walk around the waterfalls; it is a walk in nature that will take you on an adventure to discover the two magnificent waterfalls breaking through the heart of the Vosges Forest.
Admire the Landscape from the Tour De Mérelle
This wooden tower was built by the French Scouts in 1964. This observatory, which looks like a watchtower, is accessible by car or on foot from Lake Gérardmer. It allows its visitors to admire a breathtaking view of the lake, Gérardmer and its surroundings. We can assure you that you will not regret climbing the 85 steps of the spiral staircase one by one. Note, however, that the tower can only accommodate four people at a time, so you will have to be patient before enjoying this 360° view.
The Pissoire Waterfall
Put on a good pair of shoes because the Pissoire waterfall, located about 20 minutes from Gérardmer, can only be reached after a 30-minute hike in the woods. However, it is totally worth the trouble; you won’t regret it! In summer, this little corner of nature is a real haven of coolness.
The Berchigranges Garden (Jardin de Berchigranges)
Come and recharge in the heart of this remarkable garden, a true jewel of landscape art! Only a 20-minute drive from Gérardmer is the genuinely magnificent Berchigranges garden. The garden was carved out of granite that was moved especially for the creation of the garden, and now it rests almost 700 metres above sea level. On-site, you can discover several types of gardens: French and English gardens, cottage gardens, bohemian gardens, etc. With a total of nearly 4,000 species of plants, the result of more than 20 years of colossal work! The Berchigranges garden is open every day from April to mid-October.
Visit the Confiserie Géromoise
Take advantage of your stay in Gérardmer to visit the Géromoise confectionery, which makes the famous Vosges sweet. The Géromoise confectionery experience is suitable for the whole family and gives you a chance to discover the manufacturing process of this candy known throughout France. After they let you into the production process, you will be offered to make the candy yourself, and it is quite the experience, don’t miss it!
Let the Child-Within Take Control at the Acro-Sphere
The Acro-Sphere is divided into two distinct parts. The first is Adventure Park, which is dedicated to tree climbing, cliff climbing and overwater climbing and consists of 17 different circuits. They are classified by level, from easy to complex, and can accommodate children and adults of all ages.
As an added bonus, the park is equipped with zip lines of up to 160 metres! The second part of Acro-Sphere is the Sentier des Chatouilles (Tickle Trail), which offers you the opportunity to walk barefoot for 1km in the heart of the wild cirque, a former granite quarry. Take the time to experience all these new sensations and be surprised by the different textures encountered during this unusual walk: sand, gravel, wood, etc.
Discover Local Crafts at the Saboterie Des Lacs
One of the most well-established businesses in Gérardmer is the Saboterie des Lacs. This family business makes clogs and allows its visitors to discover their process as well as its factory. Make sure to call before your visit to ensure that clogs are being made when you come. You will then discover more about the different stages of manufacture of this object and perhaps leave with a small souvenir from the shop.
Enjoying Winter in La Mauselaine
The ski resort of Gérardmer has 21 ski runs ranging from green to black. The possibilities for fun are endless in the Mauselaine ski resort, where you will find the longest run in the Vosges (the Chevreuils with 2900 m. Every winter, it welcomes many visitors wishing to spend a winter holiday with their family while enjoying the exceptional Vosges nature and the skiing possibilities offered by the resort. In addition, there are accessible playgrounds and sledging courses.
Try out Unusual Activities in the Bol d’Air park
Paragliding simulator, zip line, bungee jumping or accrobranche; are the kind of unusual activities that you will find in the Bol d’Air park. A must-see located 20 minutes from Gérardmer that we really recommend if you are a bit of an adventurer at heart and a thrill seeker. The park also offers quieter activities for children as well as unusual accommodations such as huts in the woods.
Capital of the Vosges linen
A tourist resort in summer and winter, the town of Gérardmer is also the leading linen production centre in the Vosges. The town centre has shops and showrooms for almost all the linen brands. The town is also home to the factory shops of household names in the industry, like Linvosges, François Hans, Garnier Thiébaud, and Jacquard Français. Make sure to go on a linen shopping spree while in town; you will get some of the finest linen you will ever buy in your life!
Hiking Between Lake, Forest and Mountain
What could be better than a good hike to take full advantage of the landscapes offered by the commune of Gérardmer? Go for a relaxing walk for half a day or a whole day; there are many routes to choose from, depending on your level and the time you want to spend. You can opt for a walk around the lake, climb to the Sapois pass to see the Bourrique jump, go snowshoeing around Xonrupt, reach the Mérelle observatory or take a walk in the Gérardmer national forest. Unique landscapes are guaranteed in winter and summer!
The “pearl of the Vosges”, Gérardmer is a heaven for nature lovers who enjoy outdoor sports. There is everything you need to make a memorable vacation in nature; incredible landscapes, quiet and relaxing destinations, and plenty of activities to enjoy!