Whether you're a nature lover, a countryside connoisseur, a sci-fi aficionado, sports buff or a motorcycle enthusiast, there's something for you at Gérardmer.
The whole year round, Gérardmer is the veritable beating heart of the Vosges cultural and sporting scene, there's always something happening and you'll be glad you stopped by.
Venturing further afield into the Vosges, myriad hidden treasures are waiting to be discovered.
Sitting pretty at the heart of the Haute Vosges and just around the corner from Alsace, there are so many good reasons to come pay us a visit and ... we're such a friendly bunch !
Gérardmer and the region
Gérardmer is rightly known as “the Pearl of the Vosges”. You may notice something unusual about the pronunciation of 'Gérardmer'. Technically speaking the name should be pronounced 'Gerard Mare', however, in these parts it's pronounced 'Gerard May'. Now this is highly unusual, but take a seat and we'll explain why.
'Gérardmer' owes its name to Gerard d'Alsace, who was the duc de Lorraine from 1048 to 1070. At the time the name 'Gérardmer' was spelt differently ... Giralmeix, Girameix, Giraumeix, Giromoué. 'Meix' comes from Latin and means 'garden'. Meix is prounounced May, thus Gerard May is the house or garden of Gerard, and this unusual pronunciation stuck throughout the ages. And believe us ... not a lot of people know that!
So, French lesson out of the way, let's get back to telling you what you can do in these parts.
The lake is a real hive of activity and you can enjoy all the nautical pleasures (well nearly) that you'd expect on a lake during summer – paddleboard, sailing, kayaking, pedalo and the leisure centre among others. Of course, you may prefer to keep your feet on dry land and in that case there are 20 000 kms of signposted hiking trails to discover in the massif Vosgien. Blanketed in white, the forest is transformed into snowshoe hiking heaven in the wintertime.
Now here's a thing ... there are lots of other lakes to discover in the area – Longemer, Retournemer, Blanchemer - and they're all pronounced 'mare' and not 'may' (work that one out!). The waterfalls at Tendon – including the 'saut des cuves' and the 'saut de la bourrique' - and Rudlin are also well worth a visit.
The Vosges area is a great place for hikers of all levels. If you want to get the best out of your visit you could also call on the services of Jarno, an excellent local mountain guide who specialises in tailor-made excursions. Contact him either before or during your stay, either way don't forget to tell him that we sent you!
There's also great fishing in the area, as you would imagine. Fishing on the lake, classified as 1st category, is allowed with either a day permit or a 'holiday permit'. A private fishing pond is also just a few minutes from the campsite.
Last but not least naturewise, lots of different gardens open during the summer months for the pleasure of young and old.
Once you've enjoyed all that nature has to throw at you there are still stacks of other activities waiting to be enjoyed.
In Gérardmer and the surrounding area you'll find :
- ice skating, swimming pools, a treetop adventure park, summer sledging, paintball, paragliding, go karting, cinema ...
- local artisans itching to tell you about their different skills and trades such as clogmaking, candlemaking, woodworking ...
- admit it, you also came to France for the food! You won't be disappointed in the Vosges with local specialities such as cheeses, biscuits, sweets, honey, essential oils and of course beer.
Dare we trot out the old – but so true - expression ... you're likely to be spoiled for choice!
Dates not to be missed
Consider yourself warned, you won't have time to do everything we've mentioned, so ... you may have to come back!
You should also make note of some of Gérardmer's mega annual or biennial events, here are a few
Motordays, the biggest rock and biker meeting in the East of France. End of May/beginning of June every 2 years.
Trail de la Vallée des Lacs, 9 events including an ultra trail, it is a magnificent sporting challenge to take up. 3rd weekend of June.
Triathlon de Gérardmer. An event that is sold out every year. A unique atmosphere from the start line to the finish on the red carpet! 1st weekend of September.
Fête des Jonquilles, parades of flowery floats through the city, not to be missed! Beginning of April every 2 years.
If you have any spare time and depending on when you're here, the beautiful region of Alsace is just around the corner from us and is well worth a visit.
A quick drive over one of the mountains which separates us (La Schlucht, le Bonhomme or Le Bussang) and you'll be in the land of the stork, circling above the neat rows of never-ending vineyards. If you're here at Christmas, the markets at Kaysersberg, Colmar and Riquewihr are among the best that exist.
So what do you think ... 'La Vie en Vosges'?
For more information about all of these events and many more, the excellent Tourist Office at Gérardmer is just a click away.