Outdoor Activities in Alsace-Lorraine

Information on hiking, rock climbing and skiing in the Vosges and walking, mountain biking and other outdoor activities in the mountains and national parks of Alsace-Lorraine...

Alsace has many mountains and forests accessible for sports activities including hiking, mountain biking, climbing and skiing.

The many rivers and lakes are used for a variety of water sports including windsurfing, diving, canoeing, kayaking, white water rafting, swimming and fishing.

Natural Park Vosges du Nord

This is located in the northern part of the Vosges massif and designated by UNESCO as one of the biosphere's world reserves. Over 60 percent of this park is covered with forests and there are many sporting activities on offer: cycling, hiking, horse riding and themed excursions.

The Park Information Center (Maison du Parc) is situated at the Châteaux de la Petite-Pierre.

Skiing in the Vosges

The Vosges is one of the better ski resorts of France. Downhill skiers have 170 lifts to choose from and many stations are equipped with snow-making machines and lighting for night skiing, notably Gerardmer, La Bresse, Le Markstein and Lac Blanc.

Hiking in Alsace Lorraine

There are many hiking paths marked and mapped in the Alsace Lorraine region.

In the Vosges there are four primary hiking paths. These walks are signposted and have safety information at certain points. Group walks can be arranged or guides hired.

Top 25 hiking maps issued by the Institut Géographique National (IGN) are available from newsagents and bookshops.

All nationally recognised trails featured on these maps are categorised as follows:

  • GR (Grand Randonée): Registered hiking trails that often run across the entire country
  • GRP (Sentiers de Grande Randonée de Pays): Registered regional trails that will take you around a particular region for several days
  • PR (Sentiers de Promenade): Walking and hiking trails for short circuits, lasting several hours
  • See the IGN website

Website (in French) dedicated to hiking in the region:

Climbing

There are many climbs in the region. The best facilities for mountaineering are in the Vosges. Rock-climbing faces vary in surface and grade and there is a climb to suit all abilities.

Professional guides are available and recommended in most areas. They should hold a diploma from the Ministry of Youth and Sports, and a qualification from the Mountaineering and Rock-climbing Federation, the Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade (FFME).

Information (in French) is available on the grade, training options and availability of guides from the FFME.

  • Fédération Française de la Montagne et de l'Escalade
    At: 8-10 Quai de la Marne, 75019 Paris
    Tel: 01 40 18 75 50
    Fax: 01 40 18 75 59

Mountain Biking

There are many routes specifically for mountain biking. The Fédération Française de Cyclisme (FFC) can provide information on the hundreds of kilometres of marked mountain biking paths in the Alsace Lorraine region. These routes are available for all levels.

Canoeing and Kayaking

Canoeing is widely practiced in the region on the local rivers. Navigable rivers are classified into six grades, Classes I to VI. There are many organisations providing training, transport and equipment for trips, one day or several.

The sport is monitored by the Fédération Française de Canoë-Kayak (FFCK). It has information on appropriate rivers and expert guides, where available.

Local canoeing and kayaking groups are listed on the FFCK website, click here