Created in 1975, the Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park spans a hundred or so municipalities and two departments, Bas-Rhin and Moselle. This is a fascinating area, in terms of the natural environment as well as the historical, architectural and cultural heritage. The triangle that it forms between Bitche, Saverne and Wissembourg has three distinct identities: the forest massif, which covers 65% of the territory, the Lorraine plateau and the Piedmont.
The numerous remains of fortified castles, often perched on rocky spurs, rival each other in their charm and majesty: Schoeneck Castle, built on a rocky outcrop overlooking a beautiful forest; La Petite-Pierre Castle, now the Park House, built in the 13th century and modernised by Vauban; and Fleckenstein Castle, a truly impregnable citadel dating from the 12th century. Among the many masterpieces to admire, most of which are listed historic monuments (Monuments historiques), are the remains of Lichtenberg Fortress and the castles of Reichshoffen, Wittschloessel, Wasenbourg and Loewenstein.
The villages, each one more charming than the one before it, also have many attractions to delight visitors. It's a pleasure to discover the white half-timbered façades and flower-filled balconies of Hunspach (voted "Favourite Village of the French" in 2020), the beautiful residences of Wissembourg, along the Lauter, the picturesque cave houses of Graufthal or Neuwiller-lès-Saverne and its remarkable abbey church.
Military heritage also has its place, including five structures of the Maginot Line, one of which is the unmissable Schoenenbourg Fort, as well as archaeological sites and museums on the history and traditions of the region. One example of these is the Pays de Hanau Museum in Bouxwiller, whose collections are housed in a beautiful complex that's a listed historic monument. The region also stands out for its glass and crystal expertise, showcased at three internationally renowned glass-making sites which are part of the Étoiles Terrestres network: the Lalique Museum in Wingen-sur-Moder; La Grande Place, the museum of Saint-Louis Crystal Glass; and the Meisenthal glass-making site.
With chamois, red and roe deer, and wild boar, but also wood grouse and even lynx, the wildlife is particularly abundant. You can explore these great expanses on the countless hiking paths, with no less than 2,600 kilometres of marked itineraries! This exceptional natural heritage has earned the Northern Vosges Regional Nature Park the Eden ("European Destination of Excellence") award and the rare "World Cross-border Biosphere Reserve" label awarded by UNESCO. The park is very committed to sustainable development and regularly organises outings to discover its extraordinary biodiversity.