The Vologne, Moselle, Moselotte, and Meurthe Valleys reach into the mountains until the high crest, thus facilitating traffic and settlement. Despite rather poor soils, the first colons first cleared the valleys bottoms, then the lower slopes, before settling in to develop a pastoral activity.

For historical reasons, individual land exploitation was favoured in the Lorraine region. As a result, isolated exploitations can be found on the Lorraine mountain side, which also enjoys gentler – and therefore accessible – slopes. Dwellings are imposing square farms. Each farm was totally autonomous and its inhabitants could withstand the winter without outside help. Textile factories and sawmills used a lot of water from the river running through the valley floor. These companies enabled inhabitants to remain in the village, offering them work and accommodation in workers’ estates. The wood industry, agriculture and winter and summer tourism are great assets for the Vosges Mountains nowadays. These modernized exploitations welcome tourists who came to discover local produce, among which the Géromé – ancestor of Munster cheese – made with raw milk. Its name comes from Gérardmer, renowned for its cheese market and its lake. Of glacial origin, the Gérardmer Lake is the largest water body in the Vosges region, with the Longemer Lake in its footsteps. Ten lakes surround the Vosges median crest.