The Vosges are a 170 km long lush forest with high pastures, rounded peaks (“ballons”), colorful flower meadows, rich berry and mushroom stands, rustic mining estates and the famous “Ferme Auberges”. Whether hiking, mountain biking, climbing, paragliding or winter sports – sports enthusiasts will find plenty to do here. However, the region offers much more than a simple action park. Culture and history are here to be explored as well as the diverse culinary specialties.
In the immediate vicinity is the Alsace wine region with idyllic villages and small towns with an almost southern flair. They offer everything from a traditional wine tavern to a three-star restaurant. This will certainly make a gourmet’s heart beat faster! The castle “Haut Koenigsbourg” – the “Neuschwanstein” of France, is only a 25 minute drive away.
If it gets too quiet for you in nature and you want to escape to the city, you will find the nearby towns Colmar, Strasbourg, Nancy, Basel or Freiburg which offer a variety of modern and historical cultural delights as well as plenty of shopping opportunities.
For design lovers, the one hour drive to the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein is an absolute must. The Museum Würth in Erstein and the Bugatti Museum in Molsheim are also worth a trip. The spa town of Baden-Baden with the architecturally noteworthy Burda Museum and various wellness facilities also makes for a good day out. The city of Nancy is particularly known for the Art Nouveau (eg Gallé) and the furniture designer Jean Prouvé, who has a permanent collection at The Museum of Fine Arts of Nancy. The Place Stanislav, which sites historical buildings, has been beautifully restored and is often referred to as the “Versailles Lorraine”.
On the other side of the pass, the former mining town of Ste-Marie-aux-Mines (about 9 km away) was once the centre of the French textile industry. Today the place seems rather sleepy – but four times a year, the old spirit of the last century awakens. On the last weekend in June, one of the world’s largest mineral and jewellery exchanges takes place, attracting ten thousand of visitors. In March and October fashion and fabric enthusiasts meet here, and the month of September is marked by the international patchwork trade fair.
Last but not least, the area is an eldorado for flea market fans. During the summer months the “Vide Greniers” take place in the villages on Sundays. In our experience there are plenty of amazing bargains and unique items available.
You will find a variety of shops just 7-10 km away. In Ban-de-Laveline there is a bakery with excellent croissants, baguette and delicious tarts. There is also a small grocery store and a pharmacy. Supermarkets and petrol stations are located in Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines and St. Dié-des-Vosges. In these places there are also weekly markets with regional products. In the immediate vicinity two farms offer very good cheeses and other self-produced products (eg saffron).