Route des Cretes
Route des Cretes, Alsace Lorraine, France
Route des Cretes is a scenic drive that links the town of Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines with Cernay and Thann via the Col de Bonhomme pass. The drive stretches over a distance of 80km with plenty to enjoy along the way. This route is ideal for easy driving and, for maximum comfort and convenience, a motorhome, campervan or RV from Lyon or Paris is ideal. As you drive along this road, you should take note that it travels along the border between Alsace and Lorraine which means that this really is where the Romance and Germanic languages meet.
Col du Bonhomme
This mountain pass marks the northern departure point and it was the only point of crossing before the construction of the Sainte-Marie-aux-Mines tunnel. Here you will find restaurants and places to stop to enjoy some of the views.
Col du Calvaire pass makes a detour to Val d’Orbey but make sure NOT to take this route. Continue along and you will enjoy the lush forests and rich green pastures as far as the eye can see.
The Gazon du Faing is a good place to stop and stretch your legs. If you wish to climb to the summit, you will need to park and hike of course. It’s a fairly gentle slope and takes about 45 minutes to reach the top. Enjoy the views of the Alsace Plain and Germany’s Black Forest.
Col de la Schlucht
This pass is respected by both Alsatians and Lorrainians who come here for mass during the summer months. Its close proximity to various popular tourist destinations make it a top destination in itself. In the winter, it is a popular ski resort. There are many restaurants to visit here and a chair lift takes you up to the summit of Montabey. If you wish, you can make your way back down by toboggan.
As you continue, sights include the Lake of Longemer, lush green forests and the valleys of La Bresse. The Haut-Chitelet altitude garden is open in the summer and is home to thousands of fascinating plant life. The Hohneck summit is not to be missed since, from here, you really can enjoy a full panoramic view of your surroundings Remember to pack warm clothes because the wind is rather icy even in the summer.
Col du Herrenberg
Col du Herrenberg offers visitors superb views of the Thur Valley and Kruth Lake and you will find many local breeders, cheese makers and farmers here.
Your next stop will be in Le Markstein which is home to a wide variety of summer and winter activities. From paragliding to skiing, you can find it all here!
The Grand Ballon is the highest summit in the Vosges. On top you will notice a modern structure that is used to aid in civil aviation. From here you will enjoy views of the Alsace Plain, Mulhouse, Colmar and the Black Forest.
As you decend down to the Col Amic, you wil be able to enjoy superb views of the Alsace Plain. While you might not choose to stop at the Col Amic pass, it is interesting to note that it is located close to the castle ruins of Freundstein which was abandoned in the 16th century after an earthquake.
The Vieil Armand is a significant memorial that was erected in honour of the soldiers who lost their lives in the First World War. You can also visit a crypt that holds the bodies of some 12,000 unknown soldiers.
Once in Thann, a trip to the Collégiale Saint-Thibault cathedral is a must! It is only open during the day so make sure not to miss out!