Route des Cretes
Ridge route along spine of the Vosges
Built as a communications link during the First World War, the ‘Ridge Road’ rides the spine of the Vosgien hills from Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines (21 km west of Sélestat via N59) due south to Cernay. Several twisting roads climb up through the forested hillsides from the plain; one of the most tortuous crawls up to the winter ski station at the Col de la Schlucht (1,139 m) from the cheese town of Munster (19 km west of Colmar via D417).
From the bald moorland hill tops, sweeping views encompass toy-town villages and isolated lakes nesting in the lee of the wooded slopes, and hang-gliders ride thermals with the hawks. On the road south, there is a footpath up to the top of Le Hohneck (1,362 m); Markstein hosted World Cup sking events in the 1980s (the Route des Crêtes is transformed into a cross-country skiing route in winter); and the views from Grand Ballon (1,424 m), the highest peak in the Vosges, are spectacular. There is no need to starve up here either, thanks to a sprinkling of café-restaurants and traditional fermes-auberges, farmhouses offering home-cooked Alsacien dishes.