Lorraine Attractions

Place Stanislas, NancyPlace Stanislas, Nancy

The present-day region of Lorraine, with its capital Nancy, lies in eastern France in the valleys of the upper Meuse and the Moselle, bounded on the west by Champagne and on the east by the Vosges and extending northward to the Ardennes and southward to the Langres plateau. It consists of the départements of Meurthe-et-Moselle (chief town Nancy), Moselle (Metz), Meuse (Bar-le-Duc) and Vosges (Epinal) - though the eastern part of the Vosges département is in Alsace. Outside the larger towns and industrial areas Lorraine has preserved its natural beauty almost unspoiled, with the steeply scarped forest-covered hills of the Vosges, its beautiful upland regions, its quiet mountain lakes and attractive holiday resorts.

Nancy, France

Verdun, France

HIGHLIGHTS

Lorraine Region

A few dozen hectares make up the region of Lorraine. They are split between two small VDQS districts: Côtes de Toul, and Vins de Moselle, an area of villages in the Moselle Valley.

Toul, France

Toul (pop. 16,851), in the upper Moselle valley, was a place of considerable importance in the Middle Ages, the see of a bishop and (until 1648) a free imperial city. The town is still surrounded by its 17th C walls, with four gates. The Porte de Metz was designed by Vauban. The Cathedral of St-Etienne (13th-14th centuries) has a Late Gothic facade and two octagonal towers. The cloister, entered through a Renaissance doorway, dates from the 13th and 14th centuries. The Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) occupies the former Bishop's Palace.

Southwest of the cathedral is the church of St-Gengoult (13th-16th centuries), a smaller and simpler version of the cathedral. The choir has some fine remains of 13th C stained glass. On the south side of the church is a 16th C cloister, in a light and elegant Flamboyant style. There are a number of old houses, particularly in Rue Général-Gengoult, some of them dating from the 14th C.

Epinal, France

Epinal (pop. 38,207), chief town of the département of Vosges, lies on both banks of the Moselle amid extensive forests. Its most famous products are the colored prints known as images d'Epinal which in the 19th C. enjoyed worldwide sales. A printer and publisher named Pellerin set up in business in the town in 1799 and began to produce prints which were not confined, as in the past, to religious subjects but also illustrated contemporary themes and, for children, fairytales. Examples of these prints can be seen in the former printing house, the Vosges Departmental Museum (which also displays pictures and sculpture) and the International Museum of Folk Art. The church of St-Maurice (13th C., with an 11th C. tower) contains in the transept a 14th C. Virgin and a 15th C. "Entombment". In the Parc du Château are the ruins of a castle destroyed in 1670.

Street Festival

This two-day festival takes place in mid-June.

Vittel, France

The attractively situated little town of Vittel (pop. 6,171) has been one of the best known spas in Lorraine since the mid 19th century, with a reputation which goes back to Roman times. Its water, from four cold mineral springs, is used in the treatment of disorders of the stomach, liver and intestines, and enjoys a wide market in bottled form as table water. It has the Late Gothic church of St-Rémy. The leisure needs of visitors are catered for by beautiful parks, a golf-course, and a racecourse. Vittel is also a good base from which to explore the beautiful surrounding area.

St Mihel

St Mihel or St Michel grew up around a Benedictine abbey founded in 709, and in the 14th C. was one of the principal towns of the Barrois district. The sculptor Ligier Richier (C.1500-1567) was born in the town, and some of his works are to be seen in the local churches. One of his finest works, the "Pâmoison de la Vierge" (the Virgin fainting, supported by St John), is in a chapel in the church of St-Michel (12th C., much altered in the late 17th C.). Another, an "Entombment", is in the 16th C. church of St-Etienne.

Gérardmer

The popular holiday resort of Gérardmer (alt. 666-1,100 m/2,185-3,610ft; pop. 9,573) lies below the Col de la Schlucht in a picturesque lake district in the High Vosges. In winter there is skiing in this area, and in summer the Lac de Gérardmer, with a perimeter of 5.5km/3.5mi, offers facilities for a variety of water sports. Nearby are the lakes of Longemer and Retournemer.
There is excellent walking in the surrounding area.

Bar-le Duc, France

Bar-le-Duc (pop. 16,939), the old capital of the duchy of Bar and now an industrial town, lies on the Rhine-Marne Canal and the river Ornain, with the upper town reaching on to the slopes above the valley.

Bar-le-Duc - Upper Town

In the upper town is the 14th C church of St-Etienne, with another masterwork by Ligier Richier, the tomb of Prince René de Châlon (d. 1544), known as the "Squelette" (Skeleton). The Rue du Bourg, Rue de Bar and Place St-Pierre are lined with handsome old houses. The Château Ducal contains a museum.

Lower Town

At the southeast end of the Boulevard de la Rochelle, in the lower town, is the handsome church of St-Jean, in neo-Romanesque/Byzantine style. The Pont Notre-Dame with its chapel leads to the church of Notre-Dame (13th-14th C, restored in 17th C), which contains a wooden figure of Christ by Ligier Richier, a pupil of Michelangelo, and a beautiful 15th C bas-relief. To the southeast, beyond the narrow Canal de l'Ornain, is the 14th C church of St-Antoine, with frescoes of the same period.

St Maurice sur Moselle, France

St-Maurice (pop. 1,449), lying below the Ballon d'Alsace and the Rouge Gazon, is a popular summer resort which also offers facilities for winter sports in the surrounding hills.

Thillot, France

Thillot (pop. 3,745), a popular holiday resort throughout the year, lies on the Moselle below the Ballon d'Alsace (1,250m/4,101ft), the most southerly peak in the Vosges.

Vosges

The Vosges are a range of mountains running parallel to the Rhine valley and the Black Forest on the far side of the Rhine from the borders of the German Palatinate in the north to the Belfort Gap in the south.

The Vosges and Alsace are the mirror image of Baden and the Black Forest on the German side of the Rhine, with which they share a common origin. Millions of years ago the Vosges and the Black Forest formed part of a single mountain range, the central section of which collapsed. Only the edges of the range, the Vosges to the west and the Black Forest to the east, remained along the borders of the 300km/185mi long rift valley of the Upper Rhine, which was gradually filled with deposits from the Rhine and its tributaries.

The Vosges extend for a distance of some 170km/105mi from north to south and up to 20km/12.5mi from east to west, rising to their greatest height in the Grand Ballon (1,423m/4,669ft) and the Ballon d'Alsace (1,250m/4,100ft), to the south. To the north they fall away gradually, rising to only 581m/1,906ft in the Grand Wintersberg. They fall steeply into the Rhine valley, but on the west slope gently down into the Lorraine uplands.

St Hippolyte - Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg

The Haut-Koenigsbourg (755m/2,475ft) is the largest castle in Alsace, with massive walls and towers of red sandstone rearing 500m/1,640ft above the Rhine plain. Originally held (ca. 1147) by the Hohenstaufens, it was destroyed by the cities of the Upper Rhineland in 1462 and rebuilt in 1479 by the Count of Thierstein, who was granted it as a fief by the German Emperor. In 1633, during the Thirty Years War, it was besieged and destroyed by the Swedes. In 1865 the ruin was acquired by the town of Sélestat, which presented it in 1899 to the Emperor Wilhelm II, who had it restored (by Bodo Ebhard, 1901-1908), as near as possible, to its appearance in 1479.

Grand Ballon

The Grand Ballon (1,423m/4,669ft), above the town of Guebwiller, is the highest peak in the Vosges, with views extending in clear weather as far as the Alps (Säntis to Ste-Odile-Blanc). In early historical times there was a shrine here to a Celtic sun god named Bel or Belen, from which the name of the hill seems to be derived. There is a monument commemorating the defense of the hill by French Chasseurs Alpins during World War I.
400m/1,300ft below the summit, surrounded by forest, is the Lac du Ballon, which was dammed by Vauban in 1699 and now serves industrial purposes. The area is popular with winter sports enthusiasts.

Hohneck

Hohneck (1,362m/4,469ft) ranks along with the Grand Ballon and the Ballon d'Alsace as one of the highest peaks in the Vosges. Between 1870 and 1918 the Franco-German frontier ran over its summit. In winter the bare rounded slopes offer excellent skiing, with the Col de la Schlucht (1,159m/3,803ft) only 4km/2.5mi away. In clear weather there are magnificent views of the Vosges, the Alsatian plain and the Black Forest.

Le Donon

Le Donon (1,009m/3,311ft), a hill in the central Vosges, attracts many visitors. It was an ancient Celtic religious center, succeeded in Roman times by a temple of Mercury. There is a museum, opened in 1869, containing Roman objects found here, and in a hollow below the summit are a number of Roman stelae set in a semicircle.
On the Col du Donon (727m/2,385ft), in a clearing in the forest, is a copy of a Roman Jupiter column.

Champ du Feu

The Champ du Feu (1,110m/3,642ft) is a plateau in the central Vosges which is popular with winter sports enthusiasts. From the lookout tower there are fine views extending, in good weather, to the Alps.

Hartmannswillerkopf

Hartmannswillerkopf, also known as the Vieil Armand, is a hill (956m/3,137ft) falling steeply down on one side to the Rhine plain which was the scene of bitter fighting during World War I. On the summit are a cross, a military cemetery with 60,000 graves and a crypt with the remains of 12,000 unknown soldiers, with a French war memorial and a museum commemorating the dead. Some of the old German positions can still be recognized in the surrounding area.

Le Struthof

Struthof is a well-preserved site with barbed wire and watchtowers as well as two of the prisoners' barracks. It was the only Nazi concentration camp to be built on French soil. One of the barracks now serves as a museum.
5km/3mi southeast of Schirmeck is Le Struthof, a former concentration camp preserved as a memorial to the 40,000 people who were imprisoned here between 1941 and 1944.

Ste Marie aux Mines

Ste-Marie-aux-Mines (alt. 360m/1,180ft) is an old mining town, around which silver and other minerals were worked from the Middle Ages, and probably earlier; it now has textile industries. It is a good center for excursions into the surrounding area.
The Old Town Hall (1634) contains a small museum. The 16th C St-Barthélemy silver mine is open to visitors in summer (conducted tours). On the Sunday after Ash Wednesday the traditional Carneval des Paysans, with a cavalcade, is held.

Ferrette

Ferrette (alt. 470m/1,540ft) is beautifully situated on the fringes of the Alsatian Jura below a hill (613m/2,011ft) crowned by the ruins of the Château de la Ferrette (1125), which was destroyed in 1633, during the Thirty Years War. In the little town are a number of half-timbered houses of medieval aspect and the 11th century church of St-Bernard-d'Aoste.

Le Hohwald

The popular climatic and winter sports resort of Le Hohwald (alt. 643m/2,110ft) lies in the high valley of the Andlau, with expanses of Alpine meadow surrounded by coniferous forests.
In the summer months, the well-marked trails are suitable for mountain biking and hiking. During the winter they are used for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.
Address: 6 Place de la Mairie, F-67140 Le Hohwald, France

Ballon d'Alsace

The Ballon d'Alsace (1,250 m/4,101ft) is the most southerly of the high peaks of the Vosges. The plateau like summit is treeless and affords wide views. On the top are a statue of the Virgin, a monument to Joan of Arc and the Monument des Démineurs (mine-clearance and bomb-disposal experts).

Markstein

The Markstein (1,176m/3,858ft), on the Route des Crêtes, a saddle affording extensive views, is a good base for walkers and skiers. Below it is the Lac de la Lauch, an artificial lake in a forest-fringed cirque, formed by a dam built in 1889-1894.

Lac Blanc et Lac Noir

In the Vosges, surrounded by coniferous forests, are two picturesque crater lakes, the Lac Blanc and Lac Noir; they were linked by a pressure pipe in 1930 and the water is used to generate electricity.

Masevaux, France

Masevaux (alt. 405m/1,330ft; pop. 3,329) is a finely situated little industrial and commercial town in the Doller Valley which is also a popular climatic resort. It originally grew up around a Benedictine abbey founded in 728 and dissolved during the French Revolution. It is a town of elegant old burghers' houses of the 16th and 17th centuries and squares decorated with fountains.
Masevaux is the starting point for the ascent of the Rossberg (1,191m/3,908ft) by a number of different routes. From here there is also an attractive trip up the Doller valley, with the artificial Lac d'Alfeld, to the Ballon d'Alsace.

Schirmeck, France

Schirmeck (alt. 317m/1,040ft), in a wooded setting in the Bruche valley, at the foot of Le Donon, is a popular holiday resort with an old-established textile industry. On the Côte du Château (416m/1,365ft) are the ruins of a castle which belonged to the Bishops of Strasbourg; it now contains a museum.

Bruyeres, France

The little town of Bruyères (alt. 500m/1,640ft), in a wooded region in the western Vosges, is a good base for walkers and skiers. The church of Champ-le-Duc dates from the 11th C.

Bussang, France

Bussang (alt. 500m/1,640ft) is a popular summer and winter resort in the upper Moselle valley, on the road to the Col de Bussang (731m/2,398ft) in the High Vosges. Near the town is the source of the Moselle (monument).

Remiremont, France

Remiremont (pop. 9,180), beautifully situated at the foot of Mt Parmont (613 m/2,011ft), grew up around a famous convent founded on the Saint Mont in the 11th C. for ladies of good family. The church of St-Pierre (13th-16th C.) contains the tombs of some of these noble ladies. Other buildings associated with the convent are the 18th C. Abbess's Palace and houses of the same period. The Grande Rue is lined by handsome 13th C. arcades. There are two regional museums illustrating the history and way of life of the area.
The former conventual church of Notre-Dame was much altered in the 18th C. Notable features of the interior are the marble cladding of the choir (17th C.) and an 11th C. figure of the Virgin. Under the choir is an 11th C. crypt.

St Die, France

The old episcopal city of St-Dié (pop. 23,699) was largely destroyed during World War II, and accordingly most of the town has a modern aspect. The first geographical work referring to the land discovered by Columbus as America was published in St-Dié in 1507. The Romanesque cathedral (12th-13th C.; rebuilt after suffering heavy damage in 1944) has a Gothic choir; the towers date only from 1711. There is a fine 14th C. cloister. The Romanesque church of Notre-Dame-de-Galilée is a fine example of 12th C. Rhineland architecture. The Municipal Museum displays archeological finds from the area, a collection of birds and mementos of Jules Ferry (1832-1893) and his family. In the north of the town is a hosiery factory designed by Le Corbusier.

Luneville, France

Lunéville (pop. 21,112) was the residence of the Dukes of Lorraine between 1702 and 1737. The handsome 18th century château was designed by Boffrand, a pupil of Mansart's. In the courtyard is an equestrian statue of General Lasalle. The Château now houses a museum of art. The twin-towered Baroque church of St-Jacques (1730-1747) has fine paneling in the interior.
There is a small Cycle and Motorcycle Museum, with over 200 pre-1939 models.
It was on this site that the Marquise de Châtelet translated Newton's Principia. She was the mistress of Voltaire at the time and had been offered refuge from debt collectors by Stanislas Leczinsky, Duke of Lorraine.

Sarrebourg

The old town of Sarrebourg (pop. 14,044) lies on the fringe of the Vosges on the river Sarre (Saar). The Eglise des Cordeliers, a former Franciscan church (13th C., rebuilt in 17th C.) has a stained glass west window by Marc Chagall; it now houses a museum. The Musée du Pays de Sarrebourg has a fine ceramic collection and also displays archeological finds from the surrounding area. On the outskirts of the town is a First World War military cemetery with 13,000 graves.
Outside the town, at St-Ulrich, is a large Gallo-Roman villa.

Bitche, France

Bitche (pop. 5,752), a garrison town, lies amid extensive forests, dominated by a Vauban fortress (1680). Bliesbruck, near the German frontier, was the site of a Gallo-Roman settlement which has been under excavation for many years. The remains of a large cult building and various workshops have been brought to light. It is planned to establish an open-air archeological museum.

La Bresse, France

La Bresse (alt. 630-1,366 m/2,095-4,480ft; pop. 5,092) lies on the Moselotte, a tributary of the Moselle. It is one of the leading winter sports resorts in the Vosges and is also a popular summer resort. At Colombey visitors can see General de Gaulle's residence, La Boisserie, in which he lived between 1946 and 1958 and to which he finally retired in 1969.

Phalsbourg, France

Phalsbourg (pop. 5,000) was built about 1570 as a fortified town and is still a garrison town. It fell to France in 1662, and its defenses were considerably strengthened by Vauban in 1680. The Porte de France and Porte d'Allemagne, both richly decorated, are remains of the old fortifications. There is a museum on the history of the town in the Town Hall.

Bains-les-Bains, France

The much frequented spa of Bains-les-Bains (pop. 1,415), with 11 springs which were already being used in Roman times, lies in the middle of the forest. It is recommended for the treatment of cardiac and nervous conditions and high blood pressure.

Dabo, France

The little town of Dabo (pop. 2,893) lies in a beautiful setting. On the Rocher de Dabo (664 m/2,179ft) is the chapel of St-Léon (1890), on the site of a legendary castle of the Frankish king Dagobert. From the top of the lookout tower there are fine views of the surrounding country.

Neufchateau, France

Neufchâteau (pop. 7,533), situated above the Meuse, was a place of some consequence in the Middle Ages, a free city within the Duchy of Lorraine. It has two notable churches, St-Nicolas (12th-15th C.), which has a 15th C. "Entombment", and St-Christophe (13th-14th C.), and a Renaissance Town Hall with a fine staircase.

Plombieres, France

Plombières (pop. 1,906) is a spa, with 28 thermal springs (13-81 C/55-178 F) which were in use in Roman times, set in a beautiful park. The local museum displays works by the Plombières-born painter Louis Français and his artist friends (Corot, Courbet, Diaz, etc.).

Domremy, France

Domrémy (pop. 200) was the birthplace in 1412 of Joan of Arc, the Maid (Pucelle) of Orléans. The house in which she was born, near the church, is open to visitors; opposite it is a small museum.

Sarreguemines, France

Sarreguemines (pop. 23,774) lies in eastern Lorraine. The former Town Hall, now a museum, displays a fine ceramic collection. There are fine views from the ruined castle on the Schlossberg.

Rambervillers, France

Rambervillers (pop. 5,999), in the western Vosges, is a picturesque little town with a 16th C. Town Hall, old houses of the same period and remains of town walls.

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