Munster cheese is certainly top-notch; so are the lanes which wind up to the Petit Ballon summit.
Petit Ballon is a nice typical mountain of the Vosges with a round summit, located between the Munster Valley in the north and the Guebwiller Valley (or Florival) in the south. The summit faces the Grand Ballon, highest mountain of the Vosges located on the other side of the Florival valley.
Petit Ballon is not on the main crest of the Vosges but on the crest which spreads from the Breitfirst in eastern direction. The summit is located between the Hilsenfirst collar in the west and Boenlesgrab collar in the east.
Secundary summits are Steinmauer (1257 m) in Hilsenfirst direction (west) and the huge Steinberg ridge in NW direction with Kegelritz (1188 m), Steinberg (1177 m), Grothkopf (1140 m).
The massif is well-known for its numerous farm-inns and his little mountain hamlets (Hilsen, Stemlisberg, Oberbreitenbach, Erschlitt.
In the NE, the Wasserbourg Valley is THE valley of the Petit Ballon Massif, dominated by the north face of the summit. This valley is a little paradise with its meadows, forests and the nice little village of Wasserbourg.
Petit Ballon is also called Kahler Wasen (= bare pasture)
Nearest airports :
- Strasbourg Entzheim
To Munster valley :
- access by train on the railway Colmar-Metzeral
- access by road from Colmar on D 417
To Guebwiller valley :
- nearest station Mulhouse
- by road from Mulhouse to Guebwiller 18 km.
- Follow the Florival valley to Linthal
Heather rooster nest near the path coming from Breitfirst : don't use these approach.
When To Climb
All the year. The large sunny side of the Petit Ballon is quickly snowfree.
Routes beginning in the valleys
1) From Breitenbach
- over Steinberg
- over Stemlisberg
2) From Metzeral
3) From Munster
4) From Wasserbourg
5) From Linthal
Easiest routes by using the touristic roads ;
- From Rothenbrunnen
- From Boenlesgrab
- From Hilsenfirst
Route from the route des Crêtes : forbidden
Tél : 03 89 77 35 30 Fax : 03 89 77 04 54
Tél : 03 89 74 03 15
Farm-Inn of GEISBAcH
4 chem Geisbach
68140 LUTTENBACH PRES MUNSTER
Tél : 03 89 77 32 63
Tél : 03 89 77 25 55
Tél : 03 89 77 56 00
Tél : 03 89 71 10 88
Back in the seventh century the monks of the "Monasterium Confluentes," located in what is now called Munster Valley, invented "Munster Kaes" in order to preserve milk and feed the great numbers of people crowding round the monastery.
Ever since then, Alsace and Lorraine have put their talents together to produce a unique cheese. Since the herds grazed on the stubble fields on the Lorraine-side of the Vosges Massif, and the rent for these fields, payable in the form of a day's production of cheese to the Duke of Lorraine, was paid in Gérardmer ("Géromé" in the Vosges dialect), "Munster Kaes" also came to be known as Géromé" as of the eighth century.
Today, the name of this "appellation contrôlée" cheese preserves its historic roots and is a reminder of this tradition.
The crest from Petit Ballon to the Alsacian plain
The 18 km long crest borders the Munster Valley in the south. The altitude of 1000 m is never reached and the main summit is the Stauffen, 898 m high.
Two collars lead across the chain, Boenlesgrad collar (865 m) and Firstplan (720 m).
Many majestic ruins of middle age castles remain here :
- Trois Chateaux (weckmund, Wahlenburg and Dagsburg)