The Vosges is a concentration of charming towns and villages which are sublime in winter. Stroll through the streets while observing, discover places steeped in history and stroll along the waymarked paths for pleasant moments with family or friends. Without forgetting the charming thermal spas and small ski resorts which are a delight for hikers and soon for skiers when their ski lifts reopen. Zoom on some unmissable Vosges escapades.

Épinal, the capital history

The capital of the Vosges is of great renown and is worth a visit for many reasons. The fact thatÉpinal is the capital of the Image is one of the main ones. It was in 1796 that Jean-Charles Pellerin created the Imagerie as we discover it today. The Image is engraved in a wooden plate and the printing is made by means of a hand press, named after a certain Gutenberg. It's the colorist's turn to work wonders. With the help of stencils, the different colours needed to finish the work are applied with round brushes. Over the years, the Imagerie d'Épinal has been able to diversify and modernise its production. Initially, it mainly dealt with religious and historical themes. Then, it diversified: La Fontaine's fables, riddles, little stories and children's games. It was in 1860 that lithography came into being, offering greater possibilities. At the dawn of the Belle Époque, great names in drawing made the reputation of imagery. Imagery remains dynamic today, thanks in particular to the arrival of new illustrators.

In terms of heritage, Épinal is classified as a Town of Art and History and has several sites listed on the Supplementary Inventory of Historic Monuments. This is the case, for example, of the Place des Vosges, a former economic and political centre which has preserved its beautiful arcades, witnesses of a mercantile era. The square is surrounded by very beautiful houses, the fruit of various periods and architectural influences, which also make the richness of the site. Classified as a historical monument since 1846, the Saint-Maurice basilica is also a place not to be missed, housing a wealth of furniture. Playing on cultural contrasts, Épinal acquired several modern works of art a few years ago, which can be admired and discovered today in the four corners of the city. And winter is certainly one of the most beautiful seasons to discover Épinal. The town is then covered by a thick layer of snow and the Place des Vosges and its arcades are full of charm

Famous thermal spas

Nearby, Plombières-les-Bains is THE spa resort of the Vosges! Spa resort, relaxation cure, balneotherapy, wellness treatments... Forget the daily routine at 100 per hour, important appointments, bills and children to pick up from school, a stay in Plombières is like pressing the "Pause" button to finally take care of yourself! The key to this well-being? Water... in magical landscapes! "Immense valleys... with gigantic pine and beech forests. Along all these slopes, innumerable springs, streams and brooks... In short, water, water, more water... ». This is what Guy de Maupassant used to say, but he is not the only great name to have been seduced: Théophile Gautier, Berlioz and Musset were all influenced by this Empire-style city, nicknamed "the city of a thousand balconies". 2 000 years of thermalism have made this city an unavoidable reference of the French resorts. The meeting between a majestic architectural heritage, a breathtaking natural setting and the almost magical virtues of water...

And who says thermal spa in the Vosges, also says the legendary Vittel. The legendary quality of Vittel's water, coming from cold, bicarbonate springs, has been delighting spa visitors for many years! In addition to medical cures, you will also find the Vittel Spa, which offers wellness and relaxation treatments, a thermal sensation trail, and à la carte treatments. In the centre, cottage-style houses give the town a touch of the British seaside town feel, and from the Belle Époque's heyday, a certain charm remains through the luxurious buildings, mansions and well-kept walking areas, as well as all the architectural heritage left by Charles Garnier, architect of the Paris Opera, who signed theThermal Establishment, the Thermal Gallery and the first Casino, among others, to Vittel. Apart from the thermal activities, the town offers many outdoor facilities and outings, but also a very beautiful golf course!

Gérardmer, the " Pearl of the Vosges "

Better known under the name of "Pearl of the Vosges" that Abel Hugo, Victor's brother, attributed to him, Gérardmer benefits from a remarkable setting. Nestled in a valley, on the edge of a moraine dam lake surrounded by mountains with slopes covered with fir trees and meadows, and just a few kilometres from the Hautes-Chaumes, the small town has all the necessary assets to seduce visitors. This small town, which also owes its fame to the daffodils, was for a long time a cheese market (the munster géromé of course). Before acquiring a reputation in the fields of granite, wood but especially textiles with the linen cloth bleached on meadow. Note that it was also a pioneer in the field of tourism since it is here (and oui !) that was born in 1875, on the initiative of a group of pioneering entrepreneurs, the first tourist information office in France, called the Comité des Promenades. It is therefore normal that, from certain angles, this town has kept a little air of a Swiss mountain resort with houses very close to the wooden chalets

Soon, it will be time for skiing!

And the ski area of Gérardmer has a festive, even fantastic character ... It has no less than 20 runs linked on 40 km (including one of 3 200 m, the longest in the Vosges), as well as 20 ski lifts and a snowpark

Just a stone's throw away is Xonrupt-Longemer which offers numerous ski lifts for a quiet glide. Further south, Ventron and Frère-Joseph are first of all betting on a family slide. In the heart of the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park, three areas contribute to the skiable  offer: Bussang with la Bouloie, Larcenaire and Saint-Maurice-sur-Moselle in Rouge-Gazon, the highest resort in the Vosges department. Of course, French ski schools are present in each of these resorts to introduce or perfect the various disciplines for young and old alike: skiing, cross-country skiing, snow-blading, snowshoeing, etc.

But when the snow begins to fall, it is La Bresse, located in the heart of the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park, which is perhaps the best known of the Upper Vosges. It extends over three areas - la Bresse, la Schlucht, le Hohneck - and offers the largest ski area in the massif with more than 40 ski runs over 220 hectares in the middle of lakes, mountain ridges and forests. You can enjoy all types of runs, as a family, as a couple or on your own, before setting off again very easily for other pleasures, such as a hike on the Pierre d'Appel circuit or the Haute Pierre circuit.

Every year, the Vosges are the joy of many amateur or experienced skiers. And besides traditional skiing, other activities related to snow and skiing are also available at développées : Nordic skiing, biathlon and, more recently, snowshoeing, favoured by a well-protected natural environment. Notice to ski lovers as soon as the ski lifts reopen! In the meantime, let's go for some nice and invigorating walks..

Smart Info

When? If all seasons offer many activities, winter is truly magical in the Vosges

Go there. Prefecture of the Vosges, Épinal is located 395 km from Paris via the A5 motorway.

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