You can explore the mountains by heading west from Strasbourg, but a more interesting route is from Colmar. The French High Command created La Route des Crêtes (Crest Road) during World War I to carry supplies over the mountains. It begins at Col du Bonhomme, west of Colmar, and descends south through the Regional Natural Park of the Ballons des Vosges (www.parc-ballons-vosges.fr) until the village of Cernay. From Col du Bonhomme, you can strike out on this magnificent road, once the object of bitter fighting but today a series of panoramic vistas, including one of the Black Forest.
By Col de la Schlucht, 62km (38 miles) west of Colmar, you’ll have climbed 1,472m (4,828 ft.). Schlucht is a summer and winter resort and one of the most beautiful spots in the Vosges, with a panoramic view of the Valley of Münster and the slopes of Hohneck. As you skirt the edge of this glacier-carved valley, you’ll be in the midst of a land of pine groves with a necklace of lakes. You may want to turn off the main road and go exploring in several directions as the scenery is that tempting. But if you’re still on the Crest Road, you can circle Hohneck, one of the highest peaks, at 1,590m (5,215 ft.), dominating the Wildenstein Dam of the Bresse winter-sports station.
At Markstein, you’ll come to another resort. From here, take N430 and then D10 to Münster, where the namesake savory cheese is made. You’ll go via the Petit-Ballon, a landscape of forest and mountain meadows with grazing cows. Finally, Grand-Ballon, at 1,400m (4,592 ft.), is the highest point you can reach by car in the Vosges. Get out of your car and go for a walk; if it’s a clear day, you’ll be able to see the Jura, with the French Alps beyond.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.