The region of Lorraine is situated in the north east corner of France, bordered by Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. This region of France is mostly farming country, vast prairies through which the rivers Meuse and Moselle flow.
Lorraine has been the principal route of invasion from the German lands across the Rhine for Centuries and has been fought over by France and Germany many times over the years and there is a strong Germanic influence.
These days Lorraine is a peaceful place, popular with nature lovers and hikers and known for its delightful mediaeval towns and villages, its meandering rivers, rolling hills and wooded valleys – and for its quiche Lorraine.
The capital of Lorraine is Metz (pronounced Mess), which lies on the bank of the River Moselle. Its origins go back to Roman times when it was on a major trade route – much as it is now with its connections to Brussels, Paris and Germany. There is a magnificent Gothic church in the town, the Cathédrale St-Etienne which boasts the third tallest nave in France but which wows the visitors more for its distinctive stained-glass windows – both medieval and modern including windows by Chagall, it is a superb spectacle when it is beautifully illuminated at night.
The old capital of Lorraine is Nancy which is on the River Meruthe. It is an elegant town, a model of 18th Century architectural classicism with its elegant squares and fine houses. This is thanks to the ex-King of Poland and father –in-law of Louise XV. Stanislas Lesczynski held office in Lorraine in the mid 18th Century and it was he who ordered the buildings to be created during his time in tenure. There are a couple of excellent museums in Nancy – the first is the Musée des Beaux-Arts and the second is the Musée de L’Ecole de Nancy (you can buy a combined ticket for both and save money). The Musée des Beaux-Arts has a good range of paintings including works by Manet, Matisse and Picasso as well as glasswork exhibits produced in Nancy’s glasswork company Daum. The Musée de L’Ecole de Nancy has a fabulous Art Nouveau collection of furniture and accessories, creations by glassmaker Emile Gallé and beautiful gardens.
Just ten minutes drive from Nancy is the gorgeous Chateau de Fléville a masterpiece of the French Renaissance backed by a great feudal castle (dating from 1320) with gems such as the coat room of the Dukes of Lorraine and ex-King Stanislas’s suite of rooms, its set in an exceptionally lovely location with beautiful gardens.
Lorraine offers good winter sport facilities and long warm summers that make it good cycling and hiking country.
Things to do in Lorraine
Be awed by the stained glass in the Gothic cathedral at Metz – the Chagall windows and the fabulous technicolour images.
The memorials at Verdun, the scene of bitter fighting in both World Wars won’t fail to move you; it has become a poignant base from which to visit the battlefields and the cemeteries and memorials to those on both sides.
Enjoy the excellent museums at Nancy.
Enjoy a coffee at an elegant café in the Place Stanislas in Nancy and admire the rich architecture of one of the world’s finest squares.