Lorraine: tourism & sightseeing
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A century after the First World War, the Lorraine region is still associated with the tragic events that took place in the battles in the trenches around Verdun. While this history still attracts visitors, there are also many other historical towns and sites of interest, attractions and natural parks in the region to discover!
Lorraine is a 'frontier region' of north-east France that shares borders with three European countries: Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany.
As a result of this location Lorraine has had the unenviable distinction of being the main invasion route for France over the centuries, with numerous foreign armies crossing the region during the last 1200 years.
The region has historically also been one of the most important industrial regions in France, and as a result of these two factors - war and heavy industry - it is true to say that Lorraine is not usually at the top of the list of 'most visited French tourist destinations', although its popularity is increasing all the time as the region comes to be better appreciated.
With its cathedrals and castles, three designated natural parks and forested mountains, important historic buildings and towns, museums and art galleries, you will find there is a great deal more to Lorraine than you might have imagined.
The region is situated between Alsace to the east and Champagne-Ardenne to the west. There are four departments in Lorraine: Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle and Vosges.
As you explore you will find that history has played a large part in shaping the varied landscapes, towns and monuments that we can see today during a visit, with each department having its own unique characteristics.
The Regional Natural Park of Lorraine falls in the departments of Meuse, Moselle and Meurthe-et-Moselle, while the Regional Natural Park of North Vosges and the Regional Natural Park of the Ballons des Vosges fall within the Vosges department to the south-east.
The Meurthe-et-Moselle department occupies central Lorraine.
- Nancy on the banks of the Meurthe, is a pleasant, very attractive 18th century town with the centre around Place Stanislas important enough to be UNESCO listed as a world heritage site and also with several other important historic monuments
- close to Nancy visit the towns of Pont-a-Moussons to see the abbey and the arcaded Place Duroc, then Toul for the gothic Cathedral of Saint-Etienne and other historic buildings.
- south-east of Nancy to visit the imposing 18th century Chateau de Luneville, or south to see the moat surrounded chateau de Haroué
- two of our favourite villages in southern Meurthe-et-Moselle are Vaudemont and Vezelise. Close by you might also explore Blenod which has several interesting monuments and the historic centre of Mont l'Etroit
The Meuse department (western Lorraine) is most visited for its war related sights.
- Verdun in the north of the region, was the scene of one of the most terrible battles in the history of war, from 1916-1918 and perhaps 750,000 dead. Even now, 100 years later, many people like to visit and pay tribute and their respects to those who died.
- still in Verdun, visit the 'World centre for Peace, Liberty and Human Rights' in the old bishops palace.
- The town of Bar-le-Duc has an interesting old town centre to discover with numerous renaissance style buildings
- there are several interesting villages in the Meuse, such as Marville and Avioth (a small village with a big church) to the north and Vaucouleurs to the south, among others
The Moselle department represents the north-eastern part of the Lorraine region
- the town and citadel at Bitche and the countryside of the Regional Natural Park of North Vosges
- the fortified village of Rodemack close to the border with Luxembourg in the Moselle department, is listed among the 'most beautiful villages of France'
- the priory church and chapel at Saint-Quirin, also classified as one the 'most beautiful villages of France'
- south of Rodemack visit the town of Thionville to see the medieval tower, then travel east to Veckring to see an important section of the Maginot Line at the 'Ouvrage du Hackenberg'
- Amneville-les-Thermes is a popular and long established thermal spa treatment town that also has many other attractions designed to bring visitors to the town, such as a popular zoo, a car museum and an aquarium
- Metz is an important town with a good number of important monuments and historic sights, including the gothic cathedral with the largest number of stained glass windows to be found anywhere in France, and now also very often visited for the Centre Pompidou-Metz, an important new museum of modern art
The Vosges department, with its attractive natural environment of forests, mountains and lakes, is a longstanding tourist destination.
In particular, the eastern part of the department has winter sports facilities and several towns offering thermal spa treatments.
Villages of interest in the Vosges include Domremy-la-Pucelle, to the north-west and best known as being the birthplace of Joan of Arc; and the fortified village at Chatillon-sur-Saone in the south-west of the Vosges
You can find more local travel ideas in the Lorraine guide.
Map of Lorraine and places nearby
French version: Lorraine (Francais)