More French in character than Alsace, Lorraine is a larger region that spans westward from the top of the Vosges mountains. Like its neighbour it has been fought over by France and Germany over many centuries and has changed nationalities no less than 3 times. It is the only region of France to share its borders with 3 other European countries, and, indeed the region has always been defined as a border province, its cities still showing the strife of many wars. Yet, it has also been been at the crossroads of peoples and has resulting in a rich mixture of cultures and a quiet, tranquil demeanor.
Lorraine's historic capital, Nancy, is built between the Marne and Meuse rivers. In the 18th century Stanislas Lecszinsky, then duke of Lorraine, transformed the city and made it a model of 18th century planning. Metz, to the north, is a Gallo-Roman city, now the capital of Lorraine.
Verdun sits on The Western plains of Lorraine. Its name will forever be associated with the horrors of the "Great War", the firecest battle of which was fought here. In this region, nine villages were obliterated without a trace. Several poignant museums, memorials and battle sites as well as cemetaries can be visited in the hills just outside the city of Verdun. One of the most striking sites is Rodin's memorial, which depicts the figure of Victory unable to soar because she has been caught in the remains of a dead soldier.
Ever since the Celts and the Romans discovered the virtues of the waters running in such places as those who now bear the names of Contrexeville and Vittel, there have been people who travelled the world over to come to the region's spas. The water is clearly all-imprtant to Lorraine feeding beautiful streams and grand lakes such as the one in Gerardmer, a popular vacation resort, on its shore.
Lorraine includes four dÃ©partements:
- Meurthe-et-Moselle (54)
- Meuse (55)
- Moselle (57)
- Vosges (88)