In the province of Lorraine, northeast France, Vosges takes its name from the Vosges Mountains on its border. It offers a landscape of unparalleled natural beauty and appeals especially to tourists of winter sports. The historical background and culture of Vosges can be accessed easily due to the abundance of castles, churches, monasteries, and museums. With a rich local history, it is the site of the Battle of the Vosges – first in 1794 then again during both World Wars; and was home to Joan of Arc herself back in 1412.
The Vosges Mountains
Divided into northern and southern ranges, the Vosges Mountains attract many winter sports fans and tourists, the majority of whom opt to visit the southern range. These contrast to the unspoilt northern range and are more popular due to their being lower and offering the opportunity to find a route through several medieval villages.
The tallest mountain is the Grand Ballon, and at 1,424 metres high it offers spectacular views across to the Alps. Rainfall in the mountains makes its way either east to the North Sea via the Rhine, or west to the Mediterranean via the Rhone.
South of Nancy on the Moselle River, Epinal is the capital of Vosges and is best known for the Imagerie d’Épinal, a local printing company whose unique products are still manufactured there to this day. Epinal itself has a very interesting local history – if you visit on the 9th of September, legend has it that you may see Napoleon Bonaparte’s ghost on patrol at 5am. He is said to return here each year, as it is the site of his first and last orations.
Things to Do
There is no shortage of things to do in Vosges including hiking, skiing, horse riding and nature watching; it is the perfect resort for those who love the outdoors. Well-marked trails for walkers and biking along the Zorn canal are popular choices.
Beneath the Monts Faucilles is a selection of thermal spas. Created of course by the Romans, the health benefits of visiting the spas are said to be unrivalled due to the increased levels of calcium and magnesium – said to help liver, kidney, cardio-vascular and rheumatic problems along with rheumatism and obesity. Aside from the health benefits, it offers a relaxing and interesting way to spend an afternoon.