Located in the Valley of the Lakes, Longemer is one of the three lakes in the valley with those of Gérardmer and Retournemer. When I was young, we went to Longemer on several excursions with the school. With the heat of the summer, I remembered this haven of freshness nested between its steep banks covered with fir trees still blowing a nice breeze. On the other side of the Schlucht pass (col de la Schlucht), about 50 kilometers from the Alsatian vineyards and just before Gérardmer, the Longemer lake welcomes lovers of swimming, nature.
Lake Longemer: a beautiful classified natural site.
Lake Longemer is a glacial lake, one of the largest in the Vosges mountains. It is not an artificial lake. It was born from the glacier of Vologne, in the last ice age (70000 to 10000 BC). This glacier stretched for nearly 40 km long and dug these flared valleys, wide and flat bottom. Upstream of the village of Xonrupt-Longemer, the valley narrows. It is then almost entirely occupied by the lake, which is almost 2 kilometers long and 500 meters wide.
Here and there are small clearings with some isolated farms. Two decrees were passed in 1944 and 1947 in favor of Lake Longemer to enforce “the loneliness and austerity of its wooded banks, to preserve its natural character, that is to say, to preserve its charm and its interest “. In 2002, the decree of classification even included the slopes. Today, the Lake Longemer site is recognized as a must-visit natural heritage and a tourist attraction.
This does not date from today. More than 100 years ago, at the beginning of the winter sports era, a tram line ran along Gerardmer Lake to Retournemer. Later it was extended to the Schlucht Pass and even to the Hohneck. In 1942, during the German occupation it was dismantled and never rebuilt. What a pity ! The other day, by the side of the road, I saw a big sign calling for the return of this little railway. We imagine the tourist attraction that such a railway would represent today for the valley!
Nature, swimming and picnic
Enclosed between its two wooded slopes, Lake Longemer is lined with beautiful gently sloping meadows that delight bathers and picnickers. Trees provide a beneficial shade. If you arrive in the middle of the morning you will have a chance to sit in the shade, near the shore, in an idyllic setting. There are even some tables.
Even if the meadows allow to enjoy the shores of the lake on 3 of its sides, I like the northwest shore of the lake, the one that is on the side of Gerardmer. There are some snacks where you can nibble, drink something fresh, eat ice cream and rent a skiff to go for a walk on the water. Paddle boats and boats have been known for a long time. Now there are also electric boats and paddles.
On a small hill on the west bank is a very old chapel dedicated to Saint Florent. It dates back to the 15th century. Falling into ruins, it was rebuilt under the name of Saint-Laurent des Graviers in the 18th century. It would occupy the place of a hermitage of the eleventh century.
From the region of Colmar and the Alsatian side of the Vosges take the road that leads to the neck of Schlucht and down the Lorraine side towards Gérardmer. Before Gérardmer, at a big roundabout turn left. Leave your car at the large car park that opens just after.