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This guidebook describes a long-distance walking route through the delightful Vosges and Jura. Situated in France near the eastern border, the three regional parks of the Ballons des Vosges, Northern Vosges and Jura Mountains boast verdant forests, striking rock features and low rounded summits offering spectacular views. Yet, in spite of their extensive network of well-maintained paths, they are not high profile tourist destinations. This walk offers a chance to uncover the hidden secrets of this fascinating area, from its rich wildlife to ancient ruins.
Starting in Wissembourg at the northeastern tip of France, the route follows the GR53 southwest to Schirmeck, before picking up the central section of the much-celebrated GR5 (which runs from the Hook of Holland to Nice) between Schirmeck and Nyon on Lake Geneva. The scenery is as varied as it is beautiful, from the tranquil forests of the Northern Vosges to the impressive river gorges of the Jura, from long-forgotten castles to the charming half-timbered villages of old Alsace. Well within the capabilities of any moderately fit walker and clearly waymarked, the entire trek takes five to six weeks, although it could also be walked in stages.
The guide presents the route in 11 chapters, which in turn are broken into short sections of a few hours each, allowing for a flexible itinerary and easy route planning. There are also suggestions for shorter circular routes making use of sections of the GR53/GR5, as well as an overview of other long-distance routes in the region. A summary of local history, plants and wildlife and delicacies can be found in the introduction and appendices offer details of facilities on route and full accommodation listings. With clear route description and a wealth of information to help plan your trip, this comprehensive guide is an ideal companion to discovering this interesting and varied route.
Why visit the Vosges and Jura?
When to visit
Food and drink
What to take
GR system and waymarking
Safety and health
Telephones and internet
Using this guide
The GR53 Wissembourg to Schirmeck
Section 1 GR53 Wissembourg to Niederbronn-les-Bains
Section 2 GR53 Niederbronn-les-Bains to Saverne
Section 3 GR53 Saverne to Schirmeck
The GR5 Schirmeck to Nyon
Section 4 GR5 Schirmeck to Ribeauvillé
Section 5 GR5 Ribeauvillé to Mittlach
Section 6 GR5 Mittlach to Thann
Section 7 GR5 Thann to Brévilliers
Section 8 GR5 Brévilliers to St-Hippolyte
Section 9 GR5 St-Hippolyte to Villers-le-Lac
Section 10 GR5 Villers-le-Lac to Les Hôpitaux-Neufs
Section 11 GR5 Les Hôpitaux-Neufs to Nyon
Short walks along the GR5/GR53
Appendix A Long distance routes in the Vosges and Jura
Appendix B Route summary tables
Appendix C Facilities table
Appendix D Useful websites
Appendix E Accommodation
Les and Elizabeth Smith originally trained as a scientist and a geographer, and spent many years pursuing sensible careers. Their outdoor interests encouraged them to adopt a less secure but more flexible lifestyle, which allows more time for exploring the Scottish hills and travelling further afield. Their trips often take them to less publicised areas, where a walking trail can provide an excellent way of seeing the country and meeting local people. They firmly believe that travelling and enjoying the outdoors does not depend on having a generous budget. The Smiths are easily distracted during their walks by efforts to glimpse local wildlife, photograph the landscape, or make some sense of the history of the area. Home is a Perthshire smallholding, where writing finds a place alongside other projects.
"The GR5 is one of the great long-distance walks in western Europe. This Cicerone guide deals with the section down the Vosges and Jura, a total of 672 km, and gives a good overview of an interesting area not much visited by walkers from these islands."
– Irish Mountain Log magazine / Autumn 2006