Leaving from Epinal, you pass the Maison du Vélo, an ideal place for a quick pit stop if you want to check your tyre pressures or pick up information on the surrounding area. Continue north to join La Voie Bleue, which then guides you southwestwards as you follow the signs. You ride beside the Canal des Vosges to reach the River Saône’s drainage basin. You soon come to Bouzey Lake, the largest lake in the Vosges (larger even than Gérardmer Lake), which offers you the opportunity to take a dip or to bird-watch, according to the season… and how you’re feeling.
Further south, the route becomes more rustic. Villages become rarer, while one lock follows another. The Coney, a bucolic stream, acts as your companion on this country stretch. Then the impressive Forge de Thunimont, an 18th-century metallurgical factory later converted into a textile mill, then into a nappy factory, provides a fascinating insight into the Vosges’s industrial past. Before arriving at the thermal spa town of Bains-les-Bains via a 3km-stretch along a small county road (watch out, it includes a long slope), take the time to stop in front of the Manufacture de Bains-les-Bains, a former royal tinware-making factory. With its arboretum, little chapel and old buildings, it really is worth a short stop.