"You may have Alsace and Lorraine under your power,
but in spite of you we remain French"
The possession of Lorraine has caused many conflicts throughout history. It should be said that this French region benefits from a particularly unique location, since it is the only one to share its borders with three countries (Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium).
This unique location placed Lorraine at the heart of the two World Wars and continues to be haunted by the many stigmas of these dark moments in France's history. The Maginot Line and the Verdun Citadel are obviously the most testimonial constructions of these two conflicts. Verdun, the Way of the Ladies, and the Holy Way are all names which resound in the ears of schoolchildren, albeit increasingly less. To never forget these horrific times and to avoid ever making the same mistakes, many museums and memorials (the most famous being the Daumont Ossuary) have been created in the region.
All this being said, Lorraine shouldn't be a destination reserved solely for learning about this part of history. Its extremely unique geographical position has made it a privileged crossroads throughout history, with Germanic and French influences marking its architecture, art, and culture. Lorraine was the birthplace of the Carolingian Renaissance (with Chrodegang), of glass art (museum of glass and crystal, the art of stained glass windows) and of art nouveau, among other things.
With over 3,200 mi² of forest, making it one of the most heavily wooded areas in France, Lorraine is also a region with undeniable natural charm. Forests, ponds and the Vosges mountains are very popular with hikers, skiers and fans of fauna and flora. And of course, like everywhere in France, gastronomy holds a top spot in Lorraine. 'Quiche Lorraine' is obviously the first thing that comes to mind but other traditional specialities include macaroons (originating in Nancy), Lorraine pâté, Lorraine stew, the sweets of Verdun and fir tree honey from the Vosges mountains.
A land of battles, a land of history: Lorraine is an exceptional cultural tourism destination. From the Middle Ages to the First World War, this region offers a unique insight into a large part of the history of France.
With its oceanic climate, the region receives a lot of rainfall between October and December, making for a winter season that is not recommended for tourism. It's better to visit Lorraine in spring, the driest season, or in summer, especially since Lorraine is not exactly a major tourist site like the French Riviera or the Atlantic coast: these two seasons are not synonymous with overcrowding.
Plus, it is only 1h 20m from Paris by train, making it easy to get to if you already visiting the capital. Other distances from within France include: Bordeaux to Metz in 5h 20m with a connection in Paris, Lyon to Metz in 3h 20m with a connection in Paris, or Marseille-Metz in 8h 30m. If you are lucky enough to have good weather, Lorraine is a land of treasures in terms of both its landscapes and heritage.
Fans of medieval architectural history will be the first to find what they are looking for, with the Basilica of Saint-Nicolas-de-Port, one of the most impressive Gothic constructions in the region; the city of Metz and its Gothic cathedral; the Castle of Malbrouck; and the medieval city of Rodemarck, which is ranked among 'the most beautiful villages of France' (an independent association promoting French villages of quality heritage).
Growing increasingly popular, cultural heritage tourism is well represented in Lorraine as the region played a major role in the First World War. With sites known around the world, such as the city of Verdun (and its surrounding areas) and the Maginot Line, Lorraine is a land of cultural heritage where infrastructures and a museography based around these sites give visitors the chance to better comprehend this terrible chapter in France's history.
With its urban and natural landscapes that are not lacking in charm, as is proven by Stanislas Square in Nancy, the Gerardmer Lakes and the Ballons des Vosges Regional Nature Park; and its impressive human contributions, such as the inclined plane which makes it possible to cross the passage from the Marne canal to the Rhine in Saint-Louis-Arzviller, the spa of Vittel and the town of Baccarat (famous for its crystal), Lorraine is also a destination that can be discovered on foot or by bicycle.