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in the northeast of France, on the borders of Belgium, Luxembourg and
is one of the old historic provinces of France and Europe, established
in the ninth century as the land of Lothair, grandson of the emperor
The Lorraine area consists of four
(57), and Vosges
(88). It is the only French region to border on three different foreign
countries – Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany: it also borders
other French regions, Alsace
to the east, Champagne-Ardenne
to the west, and Franche-Comté
to the south.
not always part of France. When, in the 9th century, Charlemagne
divided his empire into three parts, Lorraine, like today's Luxembourg,
Holland and Belgium, was part of the middle Empire, between France in
the west and Germany in the east. This middle section of the
Carolingian empire was bequeathed to Charlemagne's grandson Lothair,
thus known as Lotharingia, which has given the modern name Lorraine.
Lorraine has always been on the dividing
between the French speaking lands of the west and the German-speaking
lands of the east. In bygone centuries, Germanic tongues were spoken in
much of the region, as is witnessed by the many Germanic place names in
the region, such as Metz, Forbach, or Freyming-Merlebach. The north of
the region borders on the Saar region of Germany, and on Luxembourg.
French has nevertheless been the main language for many centuries.
Joan of Arc, or as the French call her Jeanne
doubtless the most famous child of Lorraine, and her birthplace can be
visited in the village of Domrémy-la-Pucelle, in the Vosges
Find and book hotels in Lorraine. Click on place names for a choice of
hotel accommodation available at the best online rates.
Until the late twentieth century,
Lorraine was known
as an industrial region, part of a large European industrial heartland
stretching over north-east France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the west of
Germany. The region was home to a lot of heavy industry, notably coal,
iron and steel, concentrated in particular in the departments of
Meurthe et Moselle and Moselle. Cities such as
Thionville or Forbach were major centres in the industrial age. With
the decline of rustbelt industries in France, Lorraine went through
major economic and social upheavals. While the iron and steel industry
remains the regions biggest industrial employer, most of the
smokestack industries have been modernised or replaced by high-tech
plants, such as the Mercedes-owned Smart production line in Hambach,
opened in 1997.
As for the Vosges mountains, they still
support a textile industry as well as a sawing and wood-milling
industry. While nothing like as active as it was in its heyday, the
Vosges textile industry is still active, and Vosges linen is reputed
throughout France for its tradition and quality.
Unlike other French
regions, Lorraine, though a historic region, does not have a single
natural capital; the region's two major cities, Metz and Nancy, are of
similar size (each with an urban area of around 420,000 inhabitants),
and have both been regional capital at times in history.
Today's capital is Metz
préfecture of the Moselle department, and one of the oldest
France. It was in Metz that the Carolingian dynasty first came to
power, and from the tenth to the seventeenth century, Metz was a city
of the (Germanic) Holy Roman Empire, only becoming French on the
signing of the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648.
by contrast, is a much more recent city. Developing in the Middle Ages,
it blossomed into a major regional city in the eighteenth century, as
capital of the new French duchy of Lorraine. It was Stanislas, deposed
king of Poland, to whom the duchy was given in 1737, who developed the
great neo-classical city with its magnificent central square named in
Historic working sawmill in the Vosges mountains
Outside of the
industrial areas, and particularly in the west and south of the region,
the departments of the Meuse and the Vosges, Lorraine is a rural
region, with hills and forests. The department of the Vosges
includes the western part of the Vosges mountains, is heavily forested;
with its neat chalets, its picturesque villages, and its coniferous
forests, it is an part of France that in in places very reminiscent of
Switzerland (photo top of page), or of Germany's Black Forest, which
lies on the other side of the Rhine valley. The most attractive part of
the Vosges is the area around Gerardmer, a very popular holiday area
with its lakes and forests.
Epinal, capital, of the Vosges, is a small town in the high
valley of the Moselle.
tourist attractions in
(57) : Zoological
park. This 40 acre zoo is one of the three largest in France in terms
of species represented; it is strongly involved in conservation of rare
la Pucelle (88) : birthplace of Joan of Arc, Joan of Arc
interpretive centre, and pilgrimage basilica.
(88) Mountain resort in the Vosges, famous for its lake
and natural environment.
(88) Fraipertuis-city. Wild-west theme park, in the
forests of the Vosges.
Bresse-Hohneck (88) : the biggest ski area in north east
France. 21 km of pistes, 21ski lifts. Altitude 900 to 1350 m.
right on the border with Germany, this castle owes its name to the duke
of Marlborough, who used it as his headquarters in 1705.
Cathedral St. Etienne, gothic cathedral with fine stained glass: Eglise
St. Pierre aux Nonnains, supposedly the oldest church in France.
de la Cour d'or. Place St Louis (14th Century), renaissance and
medieval architecture in the old city. The neo-romanesque railway
station, finished 1908, is among the finest in France.
(57) Opened 2010. Centre
New museum of modern and contemporary art, a satellite of the famous
Paris museum. One of Europe's major museums of modern art, providing
extra display space for the Paris collection.
American cemetery (55).
The largest American military cemetery in Europe, with over 14,000 war
graves from World War 1. Located among the main battlefields of the
: Place Stanislas, one of the finest city squares in France, a UNESCO
World Heritage site, with two other 18th century squares. Porte de la
Craffe (14th Century) and other remains of the medieval city.
(57) Mineral mining museum; take an underground trip with
a former miners in this industrial museum
Rosselle (57) La
Mine, Musée Carreau Wendel. Opened in 2006, an exceptional
museum, with a visit into the "bowels of the earth". the visit lasts 2
the Carcassonne of Lorraine, Rodemack, 7 km from the Luxembourg
border, is a "medieval village" protected by its ramparts
(57) East of the town, in the Vosges hills, the
Abreschviller Forest steam railway. 12 km trip.
Between Sedan and Verdun. Beside the river Meuse, the European museum
of beer. a fascinating and well documented exploration of the history
and production of beer.
(57) Ouvrage du Hackenberg, part of France's Maginot Line
defences in the First World War.
(55): The Memorial is a museum devoted to the battle that
lasted almost a year, taking 300,000 French lives. (see WW1 sites and map),
mountains (57, 88) Hiking, mountain biking,
nature, skiing in winter.
One of Europe's smallest
states. Historic capital city, offices of the European Union.
(Trèves): old German city on the Moselle, with
romanesque basilica and other historic monuments.
Moselle valley in Germany, with its terraced vineyards and
Metz, with St Etienne's Cathedral
Nancy, Porte Héré, Place Stanislas.
North of Verdun - the cemetry of Meuse-Argonne, near
Montfaucon - the largest US war cemetery in Europe.
Photo top of page. Lac de Longuemer in the Vosges, on a dull day.....
and below the same on a sunny day.
Getting to Lorraine:
TGV from Paris Gare de l'Est , or from Strasbourg.
from the UK: the easiest way is to cross to Calais, then drive down the
motorway as far as Reims, then follow the A4
motorway which cuts
through the middle of Lorraine. From Benelux: travel via south Belgium
there are no flights from the UK or the USA to Lorraine. Nearest
airports are Luxembourg, Paris CDG, and Strasbourg.
The Duaumont memorial on the site of the First World War
battle of Verdun, where over 300,000 men perished.
Boating in the Meuse valley
and photos Copyright © About-France.com 2007 - 2023
of Nancy by Enslin - Licence Creative commons.
Longuemer on a sunny day © Christian Amet Licence GNU
by About-France.com on an open source base from OpenStreetmap.org