It is a relatively unrecognized French region, which conceals many treasures for those who want to unwind. Often perceived as an industrial territory in decline, Lorraine is full of places that are worth visiting during these summer holidays. And that's good, since the columnist of Et si on partai? on Europe 1, Jean-Bernard Carillet, is from Moselle and studied in Nancy. The author for the Lonely Planet is therefore the ideal guide to explore the nuggets of this region of eastern France.
A little Canada in the northern Vosges
"We start with the northern Vosges, not on the side of Gérardmer and Bresse. You have to go to the borders of Lorraine, Alsace and Germany. It is my favorite place to disconnect and recharge my batteries completely On the other hand, there is no TGV station nearby, so it's worth it! You can get off at Sarreguemines or Bitche and take a small winding road.
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We arrive in a large forest, with hardwoods and fir trees. There reigns an atmosphere of Grimm's tales, very romantic, with ruined castles placed on rocky spurs. At the foot of these castles, there are small lakes which give the place the look of 'little Canada'.
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Culturally, it is a very interesting region, the land of glass and crystal. You can visit glassblower workshops in Saint-Louis les Bitche or in Meisenthal. There, we make the crystal by hand. It is an industry that dates from Louis XIV and has provided food for many families for generations.
Metz and Nancy, complementary rivals
How can we talk about Lorraine without mentioning the rivalry between Metz and Nancy, the two main cities in the region? In Metz, the historic center has a very Mediterranean aspect around the cathedral, with limestone from Jaumont. There is also an imperial district around the station, which is one of the most beautiful in France. We find in Nancy a more classic atmosphere, with Art-Nouveau architecture, like the Villa Majorelle and Place Stanislas. These two cities are very complementary.
The atmosphere of the blast furnaces
In this region, steel cathedrals take the form of blast furnaces, with which the inhabitants have a very passionate relationship. Many of them were demolished following the cessation of steel activity in the region, but one that has been saved and classified: the U4, in Uckange, between Metz and Thionville. It is a monster 80 meters high.
Today, this site is open to visitors and is illuminated in the evening by large projectors which restore the nocturnal atmosphere of the steel industry. The best is to go there with a former steelmaker, to find the atmosphere of the casting, when the unblocker sinks into the ground, like a pressure cooker which releases its liquid in a terrible din. "