Discover Les Vosges – France

Les Vosges

Updated On: February 23, 2024 by   Ahmed SamirAhmed Samir

Nestled in the northeastern corner of France, the Vosges Mountains beckon with a beguiling blend of rugged landscapes, pristine wilderness, and an ancient heritage that resonates through the centuries. Les Vosges, as it is affectionately known, is a region that captivates the soul and invites explorers to lose themselves in its enchanting embrace. This comprehensive article is a journey through the captivating allure of Les Vosges, unveiling its geographical wonders, historical tapestry, cultural riches, and the wealth of experiences it offers to all who venture within its boundaries.

With its undulating terrain, verdant forests, and quaint villages, Les Vosges starkly contrasts the flat expanses of northeastern France, revealing a world of untamed beauty that has remained relatively untouched by time. In this article, we embark on a captivating voyage through the heart of Les Vosges, delving into its geographical features, historical significance, vibrant culture, and many activities that beckon the curious traveller.

Geography and Location

Les Vosges is a mountain range located in the Grand Est region of France, bordering Germany to the east. Stretching approximately 430 kilometres (267 miles) from north to south, the Vosges Mountains cover an area of over 5,000 square kilometres (1,931 square miles). This region contrasts the flatlands of northeastern France with its rugged terrain and diverse ecosystems.

The Vosges Mountains are primarily known for their gently rolling hills, dense forests, and numerous lakes. The highest peak, Grand Ballon, reaches 1,424 meters (4,672 feet), providing panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. The region’s unique geology and topography have led to several picturesque valleys, such as the Munster Valley and the Bruche Valley, home to charming villages and lush farmland.

Natural Beauty and Biodiversity

One of the most compelling aspects of Les Vosges is its outstanding natural beauty. The region is covered in lush forests, predominantly beech, fir, and spruce trees. These forests provide a haven for wildlife, including deer, boars, and various bird species. Additionally, Les Vosges is known for its picturesque lakes, the largest of which is Lake Gérardmer, a popular destination for water sports and leisurely boat rides.

The Vosges Mountains are also home to unique flora, with wildflowers carpeting the meadows in spring and summer. Orchids, gentians, and edelweiss are just a few of the stunning blooms that adorn the landscape, adding to the region’s natural charm.

Outdoor Activities

For outdoor enthusiasts, Les Vosges offers many activities throughout the year. The region’s diverse terrain caters to a wide range of interests, making it a haven for hikers, cyclists, skiers, and water sports enthusiasts alike.

  1. Hiking and Trekking: The Vosges Mountains are crisscrossed by an extensive network of hiking trails, ranging from easy walks suitable for families to challenging long-distance treks for experienced hikers. The GR5 trail traverses the Vosges from north to south and is a trendy route, offering breathtaking landscape views.
  2. Cycling: Cyclists can explore the region’s rolling hills and scenic countryside by following well-marked cycling routes. Whether you prefer road cycling or mountain biking, Les Vosges has something to offer every cyclist.
  3. Skiing and Snowboarding: In the winter months, the Vosges become a playground for winter sports enthusiasts. Several ski resorts, including La Bresse-Hohneck and Gerardmer, offer well-groomed slopes for skiing and snowboarding. Cross-country skiing and snowshoeing are also popular activities.
  4. Water Sports: The region’s pristine lakes provide ample opportunities for water sports like swimming, kayaking, paddleboarding, and fishing. Lake Gérardmer, in particular, is a hub for water-based activities.
  5. Wildlife Observation: Nature lovers can indulge in birdwatching and wildlife observation within the lush forests and serene valleys of Les Vosges. Watch for elusive species like lynx, chamois, and the Western capercaillie.

Historical Significance

Les Vosges Mountains are not only a natural treasure but also hold a significant place in French history. The region played a crucial role during World War I and II, marking the border between France and Germany. Several remnants of these conflicts can still be seen today, including bunkers, fortifications, and cemeteries that serve as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made during those tumultuous times.

The Liberation Route, a historical trail in Les Vosges, traces the path of Allied forces as they pushed back the German occupation during World War II. Along the route, visitors can explore museums, monuments, and preserved battlefields that shed light on the region’s wartime history.

Culture and Cuisine

Les Vosges is a haven for nature enthusiasts and a rich cultural tapestry. The region’s unique culture is deeply intertwined with its natural surroundings and historical heritage.

  1. Traditional Crafts: Les Vosges is known for its thriving craft traditions, including woodworking, pottery, and textile arts. Visitors can explore local workshops and boutiques to purchase handcrafted souvenirs and artisanal products.
  2. Cuisine: The Vosges region boasts a delicious cuisine influenced by its proximity to Germany. Traditional dishes like choucroute (sauerkraut with sausages and potatoes), tarte flambée (a thin pizza-like tart), and Munster cheese are beloved by locals and visitors alike. The region is also known for its delectable pastries and desserts.
  3. Festivals: Throughout the year, Les Vosges hosts various festivals and cultural events celebrating its heritage. The Alsace Wine Fair, held in Colmar, showcases the region’s finest wines, while the International Fantastic Film Festival in Gérardmer attracts film enthusiasts from around the world.

Exploring the Rich Tapestry of Les Vosges

In northeastern France, Les Vosges is blessed with natural beauty, historical significance, and cultural richness. Here are some of the top attractions found in Les Vosges:

  1. Grand Ballon: As the highest peak in the Vosges Mountains, Grand Ballon offers breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. Hiking to the summit is a popular activity, and there’s a road for those who prefer to drive. The observatory at the summit provides visitors with an opportunity to learn more about the region’s geology and wildlife.
  2. Lake Gérardmer: This picturesque lake is one of the largest in the Vosges and offers a wide range of water activities, including swimming, boating, and fishing. Gérardmer is a charming place to explore, with its quaint streets and local restaurants.
  3. Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg: Located near Sélestat, this well-preserved medieval castle is perched atop a hill and offers stunning views of the Alsace plain and the Black Forest. The castle has a rich history and has been meticulously restored to transport visitors back in time.
  4. La Bresse-Hohneck: This ski resort is the largest in the Vosges and offers excellent skiing and snowboarding opportunities during the winter months. It transforms into a hub for hiking and mountain biking in the summer.
  5. Colmar: Although technically just outside the Vosges region, Colmar is a must-visit town known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, charming canals, and vibrant floral displays. It’s often referred to as the “Little Venice” of France.
  6. Alsace Wine Route: While only partially within Les Vosges, this famous wine route winds through the region’s eastern border. Visitors can explore picturesque vineyards, wine cellars, and charming villages while savouring the renowned wines of Alsace.
  7. Munster Valley: This stunning valley is known for its lush landscapes and charming villages. It’s an excellent place for hiking and immersing yourself in the natural beauty of the Vosges. The town of Munster is famous for its cheese, which shares its name.
  8. Le Struthof Concentration Camp: Located in the Vosges Mountains, this former Nazi concentration camp serves as a solemn reminder of the region’s historical significance during World War II. It’s a place for reflection and remembrance.
  9. Vosges Regional Nature Park: Covering a significant portion of Les Vosges, this park is a haven for nature enthusiasts. It offers an extensive network of hiking trails, opportunities for wildlife observation, and a chance to connect with the region’s natural heritage.
  10. Lac Blanc: This picturesque mountain lake is surrounded by lush forests and offers various water sports, including swimming and paddleboarding. It’s also a starting point for numerous hiking trails.
  11. Château de Kaysersberg: This medieval castle overlooks the charming village of Kaysersberg and offers a glimpse into the region’s history. The village itself is known for its quaint streets and historic charm.
  12. The Alsace-Moselle Memorial: Located in Schirmeck, this museum and memorial commemorates the history of Alsace and Moselle during their periods of annexation to Germany and subsequent return to France. The educational site sheds light on the region’s complex history.

These attractions represent just a glimpse of what Les Vosges has to offer. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, historical exploration, or simply savouring the tranquillity of rural France, Les Vosges has something to captivate every visitor.

Charming Villages and Towns

Les Vosges has picturesque villages and towns that glimpse rural French life. Some of the must-visit destinations include:

  1. Colmar: Often referred to as the “Little Venice” of France, Colmar is a charming town known for its well-preserved medieval architecture, colourful half-timbered houses, and scenic canals.
  2. Ribeauvillé: This quaint village is famous for its picturesque vineyards, medieval castle ruins, and charming cobblestone streets.
  3. Kaysersberg: Another gem in the Vosges, Kaysersberg is known for its beautifully preserved old town and its role as the hometown of Nobel laureate Albert Schweitzer.
  4. Saint-Dié-des-Vosges: This town is home to the International Geography Festival, a renowned event celebrating geography, cartography, and exploration.


Les Vosges, France, is a region that captivates visitors with its breathtaking natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture. Whether you are an avid outdoor adventurer, a history enthusiast, or simply seeking a tranquil escape, Les Vosges has something to offer. Its lush forests, rolling hills, picturesque villages, and delectable cuisine make it a destination that truly captures the essence of rural France. Explore the Vosges Mountains, immerse yourself in its culture, and savour the serenity of this hidden gem in the heart of Europe.