The gentle, rounded mountains of the Vosges, supported by deep forests, glacial lakes and a rolling pastureland seem perfectly intended for recreation: walking, cycling, skiing and parapenting. The region lies in eastern France, near its border with Germany, and extends along the west side of the Rhine valley in a north-north-east direction, roughly from Belfort to Saverne.
All images © ATOUT FRANCE/Michel Laurent/CRT Lorraine
The mountains form an elongated massif divided into three sections: the High Vosges, the Middle Vosges and the Low Vosges. Geographically, the Vosges are situated wholly in France, far above the Col de Saverne separating them from the Palatinate Forest in Germany, which continues the same Vosges geologic structure, but traditionally receives this different name for historical and political reasons.
There are more than 10,000km of walking trails, all marked, including the GR5, GR7 and GR53. Cyclists will fine 100s of km of cycling trails, while winter's skiers can enjoy no fewer that 36 skiing areas that offer modest downhill pistes and cross-country routes.
While in the area, try lunch at a Ferme-Auberge, one of the Vosges region's renowned farm restaurants where you can dine sumptuously on Roigabrageldi (potatoes with bacon and onion) or Shiffala (smoked pork), and, of course, the famous Munster cheese.
The Route des Cretes, an itinerary developed during the Second World War that takes you to the Vosges' highest mountains, where mountaintop lookouts provide stunning views of the Alsace Plains, the Black Forest in Germany across the Rhine, the Jura, and, on an exceptional day, even the Alps.