Hiking the GR 533 across Vosges

The GR 533 is one of four trails going through Vosges, in the North East of France
It is 240km/150 miles long and is the westernmost trail of the four.
It goes through Lorraine, which has a strong history, going back and forth between being German or French.

I chose this trail totally randomly as I’ve never been in the Vosges area.
There’s a saying about Vosges : there are only two seasons here, winter, and the 15th of August.
Though I suspect this year the heat wave might change that.

Day 1

After finishing my hike in Vanoise National Park, I went home in Ardèche, then to a wedding in Spain and back home again.
It was cool to have a break from walking for a bit, even though the heat in Ardèche was crazy and makes you want to do nothing all day.
As I’m putting my backpack on, ready to leave, I realise I totally forgot to fix my backpack.
The clips on the top pocket come lose and I was supposed to sew them yesterday but heat, beer and tiredness made me forget.
No time to do it now, so I transfer all my gear in another backpack.
It’s the same backpack, but a 60 liters instead of a 45 liters.
That will do just fine for a few weeks.

After a long ride share I arrive in Sarrebourg and start walking by 4pm.
It’s an easy walk by a canal for most of it.
I see quite few storks.
I had never seen any before, that’s pretty cool.

Day 2

I realised last night that the puncture I thought I had fixed on my Thermarest Uberlite wasn’t, or wasn’t the only one.
The deflating is slow enough that I have to blow it only once during the night, but it’s still really annoying.
I really like that mattress but it’s really hard to find a puncture on it.
I usually put it in a bathtub, which I can’t do on trail, so I’ll probably buy a foam one somewhere.

After seeing a few more storks and unsuccessfully trying to film/take photos of them, I make it to the forest that will, I think, make the most of the trail.
It is really nice and there are a lot of really cool rock formations to keep things interesting.

There are quite a lot of bugs all day long and my head net is definitely a life saver.
That’s definitely the one piece of gear I would never go on hike without ever again.
It takes me a while to find water, so I only pitch after 9pm.

Day 3

I probably didn’t get enough coffee this morning because I somehow walk in a circle and end up where I was half an hour ago.
Though to be fair, after paying more attention, the turnoff was really hard to see.

It’s also a very, very dry day and my last water source was early in the morning.
All the sources I counted on are dry.
I’ve been walking without water for a while, so I make a detour of a kilometer to another source.
It’s dripping slowly, but there’s water.

It’s still beautiful and I’m really enjoying being in the woods.
And the rocks are still really cool.

I end up walking till 10pm, until I reach Moyenmoutiers, where I find water.
I am definitely too tired to find a good camping spot, so I just pitch in some woods that are not very far from a road.
But I’m not going further, so I’ll just put earplugs.

Day 4

Well, turned out the road wasn’t that busy but the forest was!
I’m pretty used to forest and animal sounds at night, but since I’ve been in Vosges, I’m hearing some pretty funky and weird stuff!
There are a few animals I can’t seriously tell what they are.
Birds, mammals, leprechauns?
Who knows…

It’s another really nice day, though I absolutely didn’t realise it’s Sunday and I was hoping to ressuply in Saint-Dié-des-Vosges.
In France you could get away with ressuplying on a Sunday morning in some places, but Sunday afternoons…not really.
I still have a bit of food, so that’s ok.
I’ll just need to do a wee detour to Gérardmer.
Which is kind of cool anyaway, because as a movie lover, it’s a city famous for its fantasy film festival.

It’s another pretty dry stretch and I’m crossing fingers I have enough to get me to the next water source.
If not, I’ll knock on some doors.

Day 5

So, turns out I don’t need to knock a door, there’s a bar where I can get water from (and ice cream of course).
Though I could eat some wraps with nutella for lunch (it’s all I have left), I prefer to hurry a bit so I can go to Gérardmer and have lunch there.
The trail stops 3 kilometers from town (and 2 from the supermarket).
I could walk it but I prefer hitching.


I make it to a bakery where I can feast and charge my electronics.
I’m feeling to lazy to go all the way to town, but hopefully I’ll be back for the film festival someday.

Again, not being too sure about water, I carry quite a lot on the way back up the other side of Gérardmer, just to be on the safe side.
A huge shower/thunderstorm surprises me at the end of the day.
It doesn’t last long and it’s actually quite nice considering the crazy heat wave hitting France at the moment.

Day 6

If so far it’s been definitely less hot in Vosges than further South, it’s now catching up.
I make a short detour to La Bresse for lunch and when I leave town it’s really hot already.
I lost the cool rock formations but the forest is still really nice.

I guess it’s a good test to see if I can handle the AT.
For most Europeans (including myself for a long time), hiking the AT seems really weird.
Why spend 5 months in the forest going up and down for no views, in the rain and risking to get Lyme disease?
Long story short, I know why and I am now very keen on hiking the AT, but I’m still doubting my ability to spend that much time in a green tunnel.
Anyway, that’s not for today.

I go through another town, Cornimont, where I get 4-5 liters of water before doing, of course, a big climb.
I thought I could go a bit further but I’m exhausted from walking uphill with that water and there’s a nice little hut to stay at, so that will do for today.

Day 7

I somehow end up getting lost three times today.
Probably because I was daydreaming too much, or didn’t get enough coffee.
Or the marking just wasn’t great.
One time I thought that will be better to bushwack a bit to get back on trail rather than backtracking.
Not the best idea I’ve had.

When ressuplying I get myself my last local cheese from Vosges.
It’s called Munster and I actually never had any before, though it’s quite famous.
It’s freaking delicious.
I’ll have to look up recipes with that cheese when I’m done hiking.

At the end of the day, the water source I was supposed to get my water from (a tap from a cemetery) is being used for something else, with signs saying not to touch anything.
I keep hiking a few hours and two rivers are dry, but there’s a village a bit further but it’s a detour.
I enter a small street and spot a lifesaving tap right away.
Pretty stoked not to have to make a detour as it’s almost 10pm.

Day 7

It takes me two hours to get to Belfort, where the trail ends.
I’ve been really enjoying this trail and it’s actually the perfect trail to hike during a heat wave since you spend most of your time in the shade.
Though I think I’d like to come back and hike another one of the trails going across Vosges in Autumn.
The colors would be really cool.

I just saw in the news that Gérardmer, where I was a few days ago has no more drinking water due to the heat wave.
That’s crazy…
And apparently they had to bring the cows back from the fields to the farms because they can’t graze anymore.

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