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Sifex France Guide to Lorraine

Lorraine is a land of artistic traditions, rich in sandstone, sand, water and wood. Crystal is one of the oldest crafts; Baccarat has been famous for its handblown glass for the past 200 years, but Saint Louis crystal has been produced for over 400 years and is the oldest crystal glass works in France, producing wonderfully coloured pieces engraved and decorated with fine gold. From the 16th century embroidery has been created at Mirecourt and at Lunéville pearl embroidery is still practiced for the couture houses. Here and at Saint-Clément, china and earthenware have been produced since the 18th century whilst at Longwy, relief or crystal enamel is produced. Mirecourt is the main producer of stringed instruments in France, exporting violins and violoncellos and restoring Stradivarius violins, a tradition which first began in the 17th century as well as the production of organs. The department has more than 1000 organs, 600 of them in the Moselle making it the second largest collection in France. Steel and iron making was another primary occupation - the Pompey steelworks supplied the 7,300 tons of metal used to make the Eiffel Tower.

The Lorraine Vosges has a great heritage of art. The Arsenal in Metz is one of the most sought after concert venues in Europe, opened by Rostropovitch in 1989 whilst Nancy has a sumptous Opera house. Nancy was also one of the main centres of ‘Art Nouveau’ in 19th century Europe. The Museum of the Nancy school at the former home of Eugène Corbin has one of the most outstanding collections of art nouveau in the world. Architecturally the region has many beautiful Cathedrals, Abbeys, Basilicas and Romanesque churches, the most notable of which is St Etienne’s Cathedral in Metz with over 6,500 square metres of stained glass. The influence of many cultures from Julius Caesar to Louis XIII has bequeathed a variety of architectural works of note from Place Stanislas, Place d’Alliance and La Carrière in Nancy, listed as world Unesco monuments, to Le Corbusier. The village of Hattonchâtel is exceptionally pretty and Bar Le Duc has beautiful renaissance works. Also of architectural and historic interest are the fascinating fortifications of the Maginot Line with their underground corridors and towers and the World Peace Centre at Verdun as well as fortifications by Vauban, medieval remains on the banks of the Moselle and Seille and Roman ruins dating from the 3rd century, all within 30 kms of Metz.

With three nature reserves and over 100 parks and gardens, the Lorraine-Vosges is a botanist's paradise with over 40 species of orchids, a botanical garden in Metz, over 3500 plants from the mountainous regions of the world at Gondramer, and the 1.5 hectare Parc du Haut-Chitelet, the most comprehensive alpine garden in France. Metz won 1st European Prize for towns with flowers and gardens. Besides the Moselle, Meurthe and Meuse, are many secondary rivers filled with fish, and lakes fringed with fir trees. Seven ski resorts boast 90 lifts with some floodlit runs. 700 kms of canals cross the region and an ingenious canal lift at Saint-Louis/Arzviller uses 17 locks to climb 45 metres. With five thermal spas, two theme parks, a zoological museum at Nancy, a 600 hectare tourist and thermal complex at Amnéville–les-Thermes, a steam train through the Vallée de la Canner and a miniature railway through the forest at Abreschviller, the attractions are many and varied. Gastronomic specialities include Quiche Lorraine, Verdun sugared almonds, Bulay and Nancy macaroons, Plombières ice cream, chocolate from Metz and Nancy, thistles in liqueur, mirabelle plums in marzipan and finally rum baba, the creation of Stanislas who entertained 300 people every evening at his Château. There are also excellent beers available and the wines of the Moselle, Meuse and the AOC rosé, Gris de Toul. Copyright: Sarah Francis

© 2003-2006 Sarah Francis

Sifex France Guide to the Departments in Lorraine

Meurthe et Moselle