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Nature

The Vosges peaks

Grand Ballon

At 1,424 m in altitude, this is highest point in the Vosges Mountains overlooking the entire Plain of Alsace and is also sometimes called Ballon de Guebwiller after the village it stands over. Located on the Peak Route, it harbours a civil aviation radar that’s easy to pick out with its monumental dome. A discovery trail reworked a few years ago winds round the mountain up to the peak. The doors of the historical hotel run by the Club Vosgien de Strasbourg are always open to welcome you. In clear weather, you can see the Swiss Alps stretching out with the Jungfrau, Eiger and Möncher.

Grand Ballon
Grand Ballon
Passage  la ligne
 

Donon

At an altitude of 1,009 m, Donon Mountain is the highest point in the Lower Vosges and the point where Alsace meets Lorraine. Because it can be seen from afar, it was thought to be a sacred place even in prehistorical times – a reputation it still boasts today. Its solitary location has fostered many legends blending myth with reality. The Romans were in awe of its mystery and dedicated the site to Mercury. In 1869, a clever pastiche of an Ancient temple was built on the summit. To find out more, simply follow the archaeological discovery trail dotted with informative drawings.

Rothenbachkopf

Located more to the north, this peak, sometimes called “Servin des Vosges” is the only summit to culminate in a point. At the foot of the mountain, the Rothenbach Nature Centre offers the opportunity to learn about the typical flora and fauna of this part of the Upper Vosges, including gentian, bilberry heathland, arnica and chamois.

Petit Ballon

You reach this peak via Munster Valley from Luttenbach. The summit is the domain of cattle breeding and is close to the Alsace Plain to the East, the Black Forest (Germany) and the Swiss Alps. To the west, it offers an unparalleled view of the summits along the Peak Route. From here, you can spot all the mountains in the chain and recite their names from Tanet Peak to the north to Grand Ballon in the south.

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Donon
Donon
Rothenbachkopf
Rothenbachkopf
Petit Ballon
Petit Ballon

Hohneck

This is the other mythical summit of the Vosges. Standing tall at 1,363 m in altitude, it’s the only peak you can access by car. But if you really want to “experience the site”, you should set out on foot from the Peak Route and gradually make your way up. You follow the cirque glaciers up to the top where the historical Bernez Hotel stands. The Bernez family has held on to these heights at all costs since 1903 when the hotel was a mere wood cabin. Their pre-1914 idea was to catch a glimpse of the lost province of Alsace – and maybe regain it for France! It offers the definitive panoramic view and you can use the viewpoint indicator to identify the sweeping 360° landscape.

A chamois on the Hohneck
A chamois on the Hohneck
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Schlucht

This is the pass between Gérardmer, “the pearl of the Vosges”, and the Alsatian town of Munster at the crossroads of the national road RD 417 and the Peak Route. This historical pass is the administrative border between Alsace and Lorraine, a place where Napoléon III and Kaiser Wilhelm II used to sojourn and is also the starting point of the famous Roches Trail which offers a virtually Alpine hike around Hohneck Mountain. Thrills guaranteed! You need proper mountaineering boots for this trail where French and German customs officers kept a close eye on each other in the 1870-1918 period.

Champ du Feu

This unique site is the “backyard in the mountains” for the city dwellers of Strasbourg. Located in the Bruche Valley, it is the highest point (1,100 m) in the Bas-Rhin département (67). It is ideal for family walks and in winter, it stands high above the banks of fog that sit over the Alsace Plain. It is also perfect for sports such as skiing and cross-country running.

Ballon d’Alsace

This southernmost peak of the Vosges Mountains is not the highest point. But it is special in that it is located at the crossroads of three Regions: Alsace, Lorraine and Franche-Comté. Two major hiking trails, GR 5 and GR 7 cross at the summit. It was also the summit of reconciliation after victory was gained in 1918. You can get there via Masevaux Valley (68), Belfort and Giromagny (90) and the Haute Moselle Valley from Fresse and Saint-Maurice (88). In clear weather, you can admire the Swiss Alps of Bern from the summit.

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Sunset on the Schlucht
Sunset on the Schlucht
The rise to the champ du feu
The rise to the champ du feu
A flower from the Ballon d'Alsace
A flower from the Ballon d'Alsace