The Vosges is a concentration of charming towns and villages, which are sublimated during the Christmas season. Stroll through the streets, discover places steeped in history, taste the delicious food that is generously prepared, sit in a bar to enjoy the atmosphere of a town and stroll along the marked paths and Christmas markets for pleasant moments with family and friends. Not forgetting the charming little family resorts which are a delight for skiers of all levels. Here is a closer look at some of the Vosges' unmissable escapades.
Épinal, historic capital
The capital of the Vosges is very famous and worth a visit for many reasons. The fact thatÉpinal is the capital of the image is one of the main reasons. It was in 1796 that Jean-Charles Pellerin created the image as we see it today. The image was engraved on a wooden plate and printed using a hand press, named after a certain Gutenberg. It was the colourist's turn to work wonders. Using stencils, the various colours needed to finish the work are applied with round brushes. Over the years, the Imagerie d'Épinal has diversified and modernized its production. At the beginning, it mainly dealt with religious and historical themes. Then it diversified: Fables of La Fontaine, riddles, little stories and children's games. It was in 1860 that lithography was born, offering wider possibilities. Great names in drawing made the reputation of the Imagerie at the dawn of the Belle Époque. Today, the Imagerie remains dynamic thanks 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 in the Supplementary Inventory of Historic Monuments. This is the case, for example, of the Place des Vosges, an old economic and political centre which has preserved its pretty arcades, witnesses of a merchant era. The square is surrounded by very beautiful houses, the result of various periods and architectural influences, which also make the richness of the site. Listed as a historical monument since 1846, the Saint-Maurice Basilica is also a must-see place, housing a wealth of furniture. Playing on the cultural contrast, Épinal acquired several modern works a few years ago which can be admired and discovered today in the four corners of the town.
Unforgettable Christmas markets
And winter is certainly one of the most beautiful seasons to discover Épinal. The town is covered with a thick layer of snow and the Christmas market huts make their appearance. The Marché et Village de Saint-Nicolas spreads over three sites in the town: Place des Vosges, Place Pineau and Place des Quatre-Nations. Throughout the month of December, craftsmen come to exhibit their products to the delight of young and old. Many activities are offered during this month of festivities: ice rink, craft sales, rides, torchlight procession and especially the procession of Saint Nicolas and fireworks!
In Plombières-les-Bains, the spa also lives to the rhythm of its Christmas market during the Advent period and, new in 2021, it will host a mini-farm
And who says spa in the Vosges, also says the legendary Vittel. St Nicholas's Day on December 6th, Christmas market from December 11th, we will go and enjoy ourselves and do some shopping in the 17 chalets of the 2021 edition.
Gérardmer, the "Pearl of the Vosges
Better known under the name of "Pearl of the Vosges" that Abel Hugo, Victor's brother, attributed to it, Gérardmer benefits from a remarkable setting. Nestled in a valley, on the edge of a moraine dam lake surrounded by mountains with fir trees and meadows, and just a few kilometres from the Hautes-Chaumes, the little town has everything it takes to attract 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 and especially textiles with the bleached linen canvas on meadow. It should be noted that it was also a pioneer in the field of tourism, since it was here (yes!) that the first tourist office in France was founded in 1875, on the initiative of a group of pioneering entrepreneurs, called the Comité des Promenades. It is therefore normal that, from certain angles, this town has kept a small air of Swiss mountain resort with houses very close to wooden chalets. A great wealth that can be appreciated in all seasons. Gérardmer is also open to film buffs for an annual international festival, which is now undeniably famous. Fantastic'Arts, devoted to fantastic films, welcomes over 30,000 spectators each year for this one event alone (from 26 to 30 January 2022)
In Gérardmer, you can also stop by the Christmas market to stroll around its 25 wooden chalets and exhibitors (from 26 November 2021 to 2 January 2022) set up on Place du Vieux Gérardmé and Place Albert Ferry.
A natural paradise for skiing
The Gérardmer ski area, also nicknamed "the pearl of the Vosges", has a festive, even fantastic character... It has no less than 21 linked runs over 40 km (including one of 2,900 m, the longest in the Vosges), as well as 19 ski lifts and a snowpark. And for those who would like to prolong the pleasure, night skiing is possible with lit and soundproofed slopes.
Just a stone's throw away, Xonrupt-Longemer offers numerous ski lifts for a quiet ride. Further south, Ventron and Frère-Joseph focus on family skiing. In the heart of the Ballons des Vosges regional nature park, other ski areas contribute to the skiable offer: Bussang with La Bouloie, Larcenaire and Saint-Maurice-sur-Moselle with Rouge-Gazon, the highest resort in the Vosges department. Of course, the French ski schools operate in each of these resorts to initiate or improve young and old in the various disciplines: skiing, cross-country skiing, snow-blading, snowshoeing, etc.
But when the snow starts to fall, head for La Bresse and the La Bresse-Hohneck resort, located in the heart of the Ballons des Vosges regional nature park, which is perhaps the best known of the high Vosges and the largest ski area in north-eastern France. It offers the largest ski area of the massif with more than 40 ski slopes on 220 hectares in the middle of lakes, mountain ridges and forests... You can enjoy all types of slopes, as a family, as a couple or alone, before leaving very easily for other pleasures, such as a snowshoe hike or a ride in a snow groomer.
Every year, the Vosges mountains are the delight of many amateur and experienced skiers. In addition to traditional skiing, other activities related to snow and sliding have also developed: Nordic skiing, biathlon and snowshoeing, favoured by a well protected natural environment. So let's hear it for lovers of skiing and the great outdoors!
When to come? Although all seasons offer many activities, the Advent and Christmas period is truly magical in the Vosges. And the region also offers skiing all winter long.
How to get there. Prefecture of the Vosges, Épinal is located 395 km from Paris via the A5 motorway.
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