The last warm days in September we decided to spend in the Vosges, a range of low mountains in the Alsace in eastern France. The region offers a lot to do and to see throughout the year. You can visit cities, several lakes, and hike in the woods or on the mountains and in the winter you can even go skiing. We stayed in a hotel in Gerardmer, which is located a bit outside in very quiet surrounding with mountains and woods. From there we started our trip to Epinal, a city nearby and to some of the lakes in this region.
The hotel “Auberge de la Poulciere” in Gerardmer
Our lovely hotel was a bit outside of Gerardmer center in the middle of mountains and woods. It has multiple rooms, which are in the main building or in separate little cottages. It has a huge garden with flowers and a vegetable and fruit garden. The room we stayed in looked like a part of an old house with thick walls, which could have been an animal stable in earlier times.
The hotel also comes with a restaurant, which serves French cuisine. The owners offers a set menu for all the guests and it is requested to book a table in advance so the chef can prepare the right amount of food for the guests. We have to say that the food is phenomenal with great taste and well presented. Although the French kitchen is very meat focused, we asked the chef in advance to prepare some vegetarian food for my wife. They prepared something especially for her, which was tasty and very kind of them to do. Together with the food the restaurant serves tasty regional and European wines. We can only recommend to try the restaurant for at least once during your stay.
Cities, sights and other things to see and do
Gérardmer and its lake
Gérardmer is a commune with over 8000 inhabitants and a small city center with some shops, restaurants, a casino and the lake. The lake is the biggest in this region and you can go electric boat rides or do different types of water sports or leisure activities. The scenery is quite typical for the Alsace region as it is surrounded by mountains and woods and it even has a skiing resort.
Lac de Longemer
This lake is located nearby Gerardmer and is smaller than the lake of Gerardmer. There are hiking trails around the lake with nice places to stop, relax and enjoy the mountains covered in woods surrounding it.
Cascade de Retournemer
There are some waterfalls in this region and one of them is at the lake of Retournemer, which is also close by Gerardmer. I was not really impressed by it, but if you like it you can visit it quite easily by a short foot walk.
Lac de Blanchemer
This small lake is a few kilometers away from Gerardmer. You can walk around it quite quickly, but there are paths through the woods, which invites for more exploring. The water is so calm that you have nice reflections in the water for great pictures.
Épinal is the capital of the departments Vosges, with over 30.000 inhabitants. Although it looks quite big, we think it has the right size to explore on foot and to enjoy the nice architecture and the pedestrian zone with many shops and restaurants.
In Épinal you can visit the ruins of the chateau with its park and you have a nice panoramic view on the city itself.
Food and drinks
Mémé in Gérardmer
It is a mix of a bar, café, shop and restaurant, which has a very nice and different interior style. We had typical French cheese and ham plates with homemade bread and for dessert we had a Crème brûlée. It was all very tasty and it is a good place to have a break.
Le Roma in Gérardmer
It is a very small Italian restaurant, but the Pizzas were tasty and the service was very quick. I think it was the quickest pizza I’ve ever been served.
Boulangerie Le Moulin Du Chateau Patisserie in Épinal
It is a French bakery with a lot of choices for savory and sweet food. We had sandwiches, “pain au chocolate” and a delicious “tarte citron”.
La Cornouaille in Epinal
If you like Breton galettes, then this is the place to go. It serves a huge variety of savory and sweet galettes. Everything tasted very good and I can only recommend it.