The Ballon d'Alsace is not the highest but one of the most famous summits in the Vosges mountains.
With the typical round shape of the Vosgian summits, he dominates the Belfort territory and is the first summit of the Vosges you can see, coming from the south with the Ballon de Servance (1216 m).
The summit is on the border between 3 french "departements" (Haut-Rhin, Vosges and Territoire de Belfort) and very near from another departement, the Haute Saone. The summit was located on the former french-german border during the annexion of Alsace by Germany (between 1870-1918 and 1940-1945).
Ballon d'Alsace dominates the Masevaux valley in the east (with river Doller) and the Alsacian plain, in the south the Savoureuse valley and the town Belfort, in the south west the Haute Saone with Plancher les Mines, in the north west the Moselle valley with Le Thillot.
The summit has the form of a horse shoe and the slopes in the west are sweet. On the contrary, the east slopes are steep, rocky ans wild. In the south east, the landscape is embellished ly the Alfeld Lake. The north east face is the wildest with the rocks of Morteville and the hamlet of Les Charbonniers (= the coalmen) beneath.
Web site of Ballon d'Alsace
: Tourist information, vacations, restaurants and hotels, history of the Ballon d'Alsac, webcam...
Official website of the Syndicat Mixte Interdépartemental du Ballon d'Alsace (SMIBA). ( Author: montagne-de-france
Date: Oct 28, 2005 04:01 AM)
Here another excellent page with a lot of informations about Ballon d'Alsace (in french) : Vallée de la Doller
Nearest airport : Basel-Mulhouse
Access by car :
1) From Masevaux
To Masevaux A 36 exit Burnhaupt, D 466 to Masevaux and Ballon collar (beautiful road)
2) From Belfort
D 465 to Giromagny and Ballon collar
3) From Remiremont
E 512 to Saint Maurice sur Moselle and D 465 to Ballon collar.
No red tape
When To Climb
All the year but :
- Hiking from the valleys is not possible without snowshoes and the orientation can become (very) difficult by bad weather conditions.
- In winter the access roads can be closed after snowfalls.
- The summit cornices can be dangerous by fog.
The summit of Ballon d'Alsace can be reached easily from the Ballon collar (road access) in 1/2 hour by foot but the hiking possibilities from the valleys to the summit are fantastic.
1) From Alfeld Lake
- Direct route over Ronde Tête
- Over Ronde Tête and NE face (highly recommended)
2) From Sewen over Little and Big Langenberg and Tête des Redoutes
3) From Saint Maurice sur Moselle
4 important monuments are built near the summit.
- The blue virgin built by Joseph Grisward, farmer of the Ballon d'Alsace from 1849 to 1878 after he survived a snow storm in 1860.
- The monument of Joan of Arc symbolizes the attachment of Alsace to the french nation. It was unveiled 19 september 1909. Sculptor : Matburin Moreau.
- The Bomb disposal experts monument near the collar. Built in 1950.
- Pottier Monument
Ballon d'Alsace is a high place of the Tour de France (cycle run). René Pottier(1879-1907) won the staging point here in the years1905 to 1907 with an average speed of 20 Km/h.
Summit view :
Near : Rossberg, Ballon de Servance, Sewen lake
Less near : Grand Ballon, Bussang, Luxeuil, Epinal, Delle, Mulhouse
Faraway : Belchen (Germany), Bern and Jungfrau (Switzerland), Langres, Donon, Strasbourg, Colmar, Mt Blanc .
- Ferme du Ballon
- Grand Langenberg
- Grand Langenberg
- Plancher des Belles Filles
The dam of the Alfeld Lake (620 m) was built between 1883 and 1887 to regulate the flow of the river Doller. The area of the water stretch is 9,2 ha and the lake is one of the largest in the Alsacian Vosges.
Ballon d'Alsace : the first mountain in the Tour de France
In the Tour de France, a annual race of 5000 km, organised by l'Auto,
RENÉ POTTIER 1897-1907 arrived as first at this place in 1905-1906
where he maintained, in the climb of the Ballon d'Alsace, an average speed of 20 km/hr and crushed all his opponents.
In 1905 Henri Desgrange introduced the first mountain in the Tour de France: the Ballon d'Alsace. At least officially because in the Tour of 1903 and 1904 the Col de la République was already in the route. The Frenchman René Pottier arrived as number one on the top so he can be considered as the first King of the Mountains. This however had cost him so much energy that he had to give up next day.
Tthe Tour of 1906 consists of 13 stages with in total 4637 km. It was the first tour with a little part outside France (in Germany). Pottier had prepared himself very well and proofed that he was not a one-day fly. In the 2nd stage from Douai to Nancy (400km!) after 175km he fell behind because of a technical problem and at the same time the increasing of speed of his opponents Emile Georget together with Louis Trousselier, Dortignacq and Petit-Breton. In the next 200km Pottier, 58 min. behind, succeeded to catch up the first group. He even had the power to speed up and to win the stage a couple of minutes ahead of the group (with in total 5 flat tires!). The next day on the rough, muddy Ballon d'Alsace, Pottier shook off all his opponents and without putting his feet on the ground (which is very remarkable because of the mud and bicycles without gears) he reached the top and the finish 48 min. ahead. In stage 5 he also arrived as first on the other climbs Col Bayard and Côte de Laffrey, which gave him so much confidence that he decided to have a good rest in a cafe. He took a whole bottle of wine, continued the race when he saw the first followers and won the stage. He won 5 stages and the Tour arriving alone in Parc des Princes in Paris were he was given a big welcome.
In the following winter he found the woman of his life with another man and on Januar the 25th in 1907 he hang himself in a hangar of Peugeot at the age of 27. With next to his body his medals and other prizes. Because of this splendid performances on the Ballon d'Alsace a memorial stone was unvealed on the top in 1908.
- Vallée de la Doller
Informations about Vallée de la Doller and Ballon d'Alsace with photos in french.