Grand Ballon

The Grand Ballon (German: Großer Belchen) or Great Belchen[1][2] is the highest mountain of the Vosges, located 25 kilometres (16 mi) northwest of Mulhouse, France. It is also the highest point of the Grand-Est French region.[3]

Grand Ballon
The Grand Ballon from the south
Highest point
Elevation1,424 m (4,672 ft)
Prominence1,072 m (3,517 ft)
Coordinates47°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
English translationGreat mountain
Language of nameFrench
Grand Ballon is located in France
Grand Ballon
Grand Ballon
LocationHaut-Rhin, Grand-Est, France
Parent rangeVosges Mountains
First ascentunknown


Grand Ballon, name sign

Grand Ballon means "great [round-topped] mountain" because a ballon in French is a geographical term for a mountain with a rounded summit, similar to the German Kuppe.

Some still call it Ballon de Guebwiller, after the name of the closest town, Guebwiller, located 8 km (5 mi) to the east. It is 1,423.7 metres (4,671 ft) high.[4]


According Köppen climate classification, the top of the Grand Ballon features an alpine-tundra climate (Köppen : ET) due to its high latitude, compare to the Alps or the Pyrenees. 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 (−22.4 °F) was recorded on 10 February 1956, a record high of 29 °C (84 °F) was recorded on 13 August 2003. The difference between the Grand Ballon and the neighboring plain (Mulhouse area) usually ranges from 7 to 10 °C (13 to 18 °F) and is higher in summertime. Winter snow cover is usually more than 1.5 m (5 ft) above 1,350 m (4,430 ft) of altitude. The highest snow accumulation ever recorded was 3.7 m (12 ft) 7 March 2006; in 1969 and 1970 the snow cover was above 3 m (10 ft).[5]


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 (4,406 ft), between Le Markstein winter sports station and Hartmannswillerkopf, a rocky spur.

Tour de FranceEdit

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.

Belchen SystemEdit

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.[6]


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

See alsoEdit


  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. ^ Joly, Daniel; Brossard, Thierry; Cardot, Hervé; Cavailhes, Jean (2010-06-18), "Les types de climats en France, une construction spatiale", Cybergeo (in French), doi:10.4000/cybergeo.23155, ISSN 1278-3366, retrieved 2018-08-18
  6. ^ Chevrier, Jean-François. From Basel - Herzog & de Meuron, Basel: Birkhäuser, 2016, p. 52.

External linksEdit