Z6C-2761388 - © - Jürgen Feuerer
France, Vosges (88), abbaye de Senones
France, Haut-Rhin (68), Munster, collégiale et l'église de Munster
TIP-540HEI09290 - © - . Hermes Images
The Vosges and the Ballon d’Alsace
If you dream of exploring vast rolling forests through unspoilt nature, then you’re in the right place. The historical border between Alsace and Lorraine, the Vosges Massif has always been defined by its huge forest coverage. Take your car and hiking boots and set off on the road through the massif and the magnificent Vosges Forest. Head off through mountains and passes for five days in the great outdoors to the peaks of the most famous Ballons des Vosges.
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Saint-Die-des-Vosges, birthplace of Jules Ferry, is an excellent introduction to the Vosges. Admire the impressive cathedral and its Gothic cloister before embarking into the wooded mountains. At the heart of the woods, Senones offers a shaded stop-off point in this ancient capital of the principality of Salm which, through its castles and imposing Benedictine abbey, retains the exceptional heritage of its prestigious past. Next, enter the Donon massif, a classified historic site, the top of which offers a superb view of the Vosges. Spend the evening in the Schirmeck area.
Begin your day with a visit to the 12th century chateau and the Schirmeck Alsace Moselle Memorial, which offers the passage to your next stop at the former Struthof concentration camp. A symbolic location in the history of the resistance, it is infamous for having served as a prison and extermination centre to a number of resistance fighters from across Europe. Discover the joy of forest crossings by taking the route to a panoramic view that plunges down to Sainte-Odile and Haut-Koenigsbourg from the rock of Neuntelstein, or a walk to the Hohwald side. Alternatively, follow the Bruche Valley in the footsteps of Pastor Oberlin to Waldersbach where you can visit the museum dedicated to his life. Spend the evening in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines.
Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines owes part of its name to the mineral-rich soil and the mining areas that surround the town. Take the time to visit one of its silver mines before taking the road that winds through the mountains to the Col du Bonhomme. Continue on the Route des Crêtes, which served as a watch point during the First World War, and Col de la Schlucht before arriving in Munster. From here, numerous hiking options offer the chance to stretch your legs before tevening, during which you mustn’t miss the opportunity to taste the town’s famous cheese.
Stop off at the Maison du Parc of the Ballons des Vosges Natural Park for a display of the park’s natural environment, rich in peatland, beech, spruce fir, water tables and calcareous grassland. You can also pick out a suitable hike before leaving Munster for a day trip. The Ballons are the summits of the Vosges, so named for their soft and rounded shape; A good starting point would be the Petit Ballon trails. Alternatively, you could explore the highest point of the Vosges, the Grand Ballon, which you can climb to appreciate the panorama of the vast forests from above.
Continue your sporting excursion by climbing the Ballon d’Alsace, via the pass bearing the same name. Next, head to Gérardmer, a resort known both for its winter activities as a famous ski resort, and for its festivals. Nestled between a beautiful lake and pine forests, Gérardmer marks the end of your stay in the green carpet of the Vosges. After one last walk or a pedal boat ride, it’s time for you to leave this little hilly paradise..
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