Grand Ballon

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Not to be confused with the Ballon d'Alsace.
Grand Ballon
The Grand Ballon from the South
Highest point
Elevation 1,424 m (4,672 ft)
Prominence 1,072 m (3,517 ft)
Coordinates 47°54′03″N 7°05′53″E / 47.90083°N 7.09806°E / 47.90083; 7.09806Coordinates: 47°54′03″N 7°05′53″E / 47.90083°N 7.09806°E / 47.90083; 7.09806
Translation Big balloon (French)
Grand Ballon is located in France
Grand Ballon
Grand Ballon
Location Haut-Rhin, Alsace, France
Parent range Vosges Mountains
First ascent unknown

The Grand Ballon (German: Großer Belchen) or Great Belchen[1][2] is the highest mountain of the Vosges, located 25 kilometres northwest of Mulhouse, France. It is also the highest point of the Alsace French region.[3]

Some still call it Ballon de Guebwiller, after the name of the closest town, Guebwiller, located 8 km to the east. It is 1,423.7 metres high.[4]

The well known Route des Crêtes (French for "route of the peaks") circumvents the mountain top around east, crossing a mountain pass at an altitude of 1,343 m, between Le Markstein winter sports station and Hartmannswillerkopf, a rocky spur.

The mountain is part of the so-called Belchen System, a group of mountains with the name "Belchen" (in German) that may have been part of a Celtic sun calendar.[5]


Along with the Hohneck the summit of the Grand Ballon is the coldest and windiest point in Alsace. A record low of -30.2 °C was recorded 10 February 1956, a record high of 29 °C was recorded 13 August 2003. The difference between the Grand Ballon and the neighboring plain (Mulhouse area) usually ranges from 7 °C to 10 °C and is higher in summertime.

Winter snow cover is usually more than 1.50 metres (4 ft 11 in) above 1,350 metres (4,430 ft) of altitude. The highest snow accumulation ever recorded was 3.70 metres (12.1 ft) 7 March 2006; in 1969 and 1970 the snow cover was above 3 metres (9.8 ft).

Tour de France[edit]

Grand Ballon, name sign

The road over the pass to the north of the mountain is occasionally used in the Tour de France, the first crossing being in 1969. It is the only Hors categorie (beyond categorization) climb in northern France.


360° panorama from the summit - 14 January 2005
360° panorama from the summit - 7 January 2006

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Chevrier, Jean-François. From Basel - Herzog & de Meuron, Basel: Birkhäuser, 2016, p. 54.
  2. ^ Herz, J.H. Guide Through Germany, Austria-Hungary, Switzerland, Italy, France, Belgium, Holland, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, &c: Souvenir of the Hamburg-American Line. Germany: Hamburg-Amerikanische Packetfahrt-Actien-Gesellschaft, 1907, p. 284.
  3. ^ France Region High Points, web-page on
  4. ^ According to the Institut Géographique National (IGN)
  5. ^ Chevrier, Jean-François. From Basel - Herzog & de Meuron, Basel: Birkhäuser, 2016, p. 52.

External links[edit]