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Lorraine: the places of the First World War and the manufacturing of glass and crystal

This article is also available in: Italian

Lorraine is a region in northeastern France located near the borders with Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany, and also borders the French regions of Franche-Comté, Alsace and Champagne-Ardenne. Like neighboring Alsace, it was repeatedly disputed between France and Germany, in 1871, part of the region became part of the German Empire, where fierce battles were fought during the First World War.

The region, whose capital is the city of Metz, is administratively made up of 4 departments: Meurthe-et-Moselle (54), Meuse (55), Moselle (57) and Vosges (88).

Characterized by a largely flat territory or by low limestone plateaus, rich in woods, Lorraine is crossed by the rivers Meuse, Meurthe, and Moselle and by numerous of their tributaries, in its eastern part, along the border with Alsace, it they find the heights of the Vosges mountains, where is the highest peak of the region, the Hohneck mountain (1,363 meters).

The economy of Lorraine was once linked to the intense exploitation of its iron mines, today it is based on agriculture, livestock and some industrial sectors such as wood, energy, electronics, automotive and chemicals.


Compared to other regions of France, tourism in Lorraine is underdeveloped, the main tourist attractions are due to the museums, castles, gastronomy, crafts (glass and crystal) and historical places in the region, the two most important cities they are Metz, the regional capital, and Nancy, the former is influenced by the Germans, and is known for the stained glass windows of its cathedral, while the latter is purely French and is rich in neoclassical buildings.

Nancy is an important tourist attraction thanks to the beautiful palaces and urban spaces (Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d’Alliance) built in the 18th century, which have earned it the title of capital of European rococo and its inscription in the list of the UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In the far north of the region near the Belgian border is the stronghold of Longwy, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site as part of Vauban’s fortifications. Notable towns include the historic centers of Épinal and Bar-le-Duc, Lunéville with its famous castle (Château de Lunéville), Pont-à-Mousson with its abbey (Abbaye des Prémontrés), the ancient city of Toul with its gothic cathedral.

Among the craft activities of which Lorraine is famous is that of glass and crystal processing, the most renowned area is that grouped together in the community of the Glass and Crystal area (Pays du Verre et du Cristal) in the department of Moselle, which includes the seven municipalities of Meisenthal, where the Glass and Crystal Museum is located (Musée du verre et du cristal), Goetzenbruck, Lemberg, Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, Soucht, Montbronn, and Baccarat, headquarters of the famous crystal factory, but there are many other centers in the region that produce glass and crystal. Many tourists come to the region to visit the sites and vestiges of the First World War battles, particularly in the area around Verdun.

Winter tourism is attracted by the Christmas markets, among others the very beautiful ones in Nancy, Metz, Sarreguemines and Plombières-Les-Bains, and by the possibilities of practicing winter sports on the Vosges massif. Green tourism is attracted by the presence of three regional natural parks, the Lorraine Regional Natural Park (Parc naturel régional de Lorraine), the Northern Vosges Regional Natural Park (Parc naturel régional des Vosges du Nord), and the of the Ballons of the Vosges (Parc naturel régional des Ballons des Vosges). Tourism of the old mines is also developing, with the possibility of visiting some of them or seeing interesting finds of industrial archeology. The spa tourism opportunities in the region are also interesting, among the best known spas we find Plombières-les-Bains, Bains-les-Bains, Contrexéville, Vittel, and Amnéville.

The climate of Lorraine.

  • Area: 23,547 km²
  • Population: 2,346,361 (2008)
  • Capital: Metz

This article is also available in: Italian


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