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louis Nancy - A travel report by Rafal
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Nancy,  France - flag France -  Lorraine
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louis's travel reports

The fields of glory!

  6 votes
The region of Lorraine has changed its rulers more times than any other part of France. Always located between two empires, it was a part of France or Germany. Due to its former King Stanislas Leszczynski, it is also the most Polish part of France.


Lorraine
Lorraine
Lorraine is one of the most underrated regions of France. Located in the northeastern part of the country, between Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium, it has never been on the main travel paths. However, Lorraine has much to offer to the visitor: Nancy with its stunning Place Stanislas; Metz with an attractive old town and newly open branch of Centre Pompodou; the medieval castles in Malbrouck, Sierck-les-bains; the battlefields of Verdun. Saint-Quirin and Rodemack are listed among "the most beautiful villages" in France. The "Chateau de Luneville" with its surrounding park are an extraordinary example of a royal estate. Famous Joanna d´Arc was born in Domremy-la-Pucelle; her birthplace, turned into a museum is available for the visitors.

Located at the border of two empires, Lorraine suffered a lot from many wars and changed the rulers few times. Usually, peace treaties considered the area among war repatriations. Its past is the main reason why nowadays Lorraine is such an interesting Franco-German mixture. The town of Verdun witnessed one of the bloodiest battles in history. During ten months, around 700.000 soldiers from both sides of the conflict lost their lives. Today, it is a calm area dotted with war cemeteries. The city of Metz was the last obstacle for the Allies during WWII, before the capture of Germany. The battle lasted more than 3 months, however the city luckily avoided destruction. The remnants of the "Maginot Line" are available for the enthusiasts of a military architecture. The Iron mines of Neufchef and Aumetz opened their doors for the visitors.

Metz/Nancy Lorraine airport is the only one in the region, with mostly domestic destinations. TGV trains connect the area with the rest of the country (although the station is in the middle of nowhere, between Metz and Nancy). A good road network helps to explore the entire area, moreover the highway between Nancy and Metz is free of charge, which is unusual for France.

Favourite spots:
The town hall of Nancy
The town hall of Nancy
Nancy was luckier with its Polish king than the Polish Kingdom itself. After its dethronement and exile from Poland, King Stanislaw Leszczynski settled down in Nancy in 1736. He received the Duchy of Lorraine, from his son-in-law, King of France Louis XV and, soon after, he focused on prettifying his new lands. Place Stanislas in Nancy is the most beautiful and famous relic of King Stanislas in Lorraine. After recent renovation in 2005, the square is even more distinguished. The city planners gathered around the square the most important and useful city´s institutions. King's statue is located in the center of the square and is surrounded by the City Hall of Nancy (south); The Opera - Theatre and the Grand Hotel (East); the Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux Arts, originally "Collège de Médecine"), the “Pavilion Jacquet” (West) and the defensive buildings (North). The northern corner of the square are topped by the “Arc de Triomphe” (“Arc Herre”) and the Neptune and Amphitrite fountains

What's really great:
Porte de la Craffe
Porte de la Craffe
There are more reasons to visit Nancy other than "Place Stanislas". Some books say that the city is the second most elegant in France. At the beginning of the XX century, Nancy was the main center of the French Art Nouveau movement. Famous artists finished "Ecole de Nancy" and remnants of this unique style can be seen in all over the city. The house called "Les Glycines" is the most beautiful example. The "Musée de l'École de Nancy" shows many exhibits of Art Nouveau movement.


The oldest part of Nancy extends from the Basilica Saint Epvre (built in XIX century, despite its Gothic look) up to the massive city gates. One of them ("Porte de la Craffe" from XIV century) stands imposingly at the end of the Grand Rue, which is the backbone and the main pedestrian street of the old town. Filled with many splendid buildings it is a great place to admire the city's architecture. The "Ducal Place" stands diagonally to the Basilica and is a good example of its great past (beautifully decorated).

Sights:
Douaumont ossuary
Douaumont ossuary
The gentle hills around the town of Verdun are the silent witnesses of one of the longest and bloodiest battle in history. Within 10 months, more than 700.000 men lost their lives there. "La voie sacre" or "Sacred Way" leads through the places that remind the battle. The best known is the gigantic Douaumont ossuary, that dominates the landscape. It is a memorial commemorated to the soldiers who died during the battle; at least 130.000 unknown soldiers from both sides of the conflict are buried there. A huge cemetery with thousands of graves surrounds the ossuary. Ironically, the town of Verdun did not suffer much during the battle, as the front line was a few kilometers away. Today, it is a pleasant place for a day trip. The banks of the Meuse River are an attractive riverfront promenade, where dozens of cafeterias are located. The impressive "Porte Chaussée" is located near the Quais de Meuse (river banks). It is the only reminder of the nonexistent todays city walls.

Accommodations:
Old Post Office in Rodemack
Old Post Office in Rodemack
Rodemack is a small village, located near Luxembourg border. The village is listed among "the most beautiful villages in France" and truly deserves to be on it. Still encircled by the massive 700 meters long rampart, Rodemack successfully maintained its medieval charm and look. The XVI century "La Porte de Sierc" is the only remaining city gate. Its present look results from a 1989 reconstruction, as at the down of WWII the Allies had to demolish the entrance portico to be able to enter the village with their heavy equipment. Many houses in the village maintained the look from the past centuries. This is why a walk around the narrow lanes is a very pleasant way of spending time. The remnants of XII century citadel dominate the village. However, there is no entrance to the citadel, due to the reconstruction works (scheduled end of work: 2018). Other picturesque landmarks are: L'Église Saint-Nicolas, Maison des Baillis, Officers Pavilion and the Old Post Office.

Nightlife:
Metz Cathedral
Metz Cathedral
Despite being the capital and the major industrial center of Lorraine, Metz was able to maintain its charm and is a pleasant surprise on the tourist map. Local authorities focused on the cultural and touristic sides of the city. The lately opened branch of "Centre Pompidou" is a clear sign of future developments (although comparison to the Parisian one is an exaggeration). The intriguing shape of the museum attracts the eye.

The Wonderful Gothic "Cathedral of St. Étienne de Metz" remains the most important attraction. Superb flamboyant Gothic windows on the main wall (north transept arm) provide a great stylistic contrast to the stunning Renaissance windows (south transept arm). Chagall was one of the artists who worked on the cathedral. He created wonderful mosaics windows in two parts of the church.

The soberly decorated basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains is a pre-medieval church. It was built in the 4th century (as a Roman spa/gymnasium) and now is the oldest church in France.

Hangouts:
St.Louis Square
St.Louis Square
Metz can be visited in different ways. The amount of public squares gives a chance to see the urban development during the ages and shows different faces of the city. "St. Louis Square" was built on the ancient defensive walls of Roman Divodurum. It has a rather medieval look, with many arcade houses around its perimeter. One of the edges of the square is occupied by the (must-be-present-in-every-French-town) carousel. The Cathedral is surrounded by few squares: the most elegant buildings are on the "Place d´Armes"; the "John Paul II Square" is located on the lower level beside the Cathedral and "Chamber Square" is on the frontal side. The last one houses the famous "Covered Market", originally built as the Bishop's Palace and after the French Revolution, turned into the Food Market. "Republic Square" has huge army barracks; while "Comedy Square" is a place where "Opera-Theater of Metz" is located. The "Protestant New Temple" (built 1930) is found in front of the Opera House.

Restaurants:
Quiche Lorraine
Quiche Lorraine
There is one king in Lorraine cuisine: Quiche Lorraine!! Its recipe yields a rich egg pie and hails from the mountainous region of Lorraine. Sufficient for a filling meal in itself, quiche Lorraine has been adapted over the years from a humble custard and bacon pie to the substantial cheese, bacon and egg creation that it is known for today.

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Ingredients:

1 layer pastry dough

4 slices bacon, crumbled

4 eggs

1 and half cup of sour cream

¼ teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon white pepper

1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1 cup Gruyere cheese, shredded

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Fit the pastry into a deep-dish pie pan. Sprinkle the bacon onto the bottom layer of the pastry. Beat together the eggs, sour cream, salt, pepper, and the nutmeg. Pour the eggs over the bacon and sprinkle with the shredded cheese. Bake the quiche for 45-50 minutes, until the eggs are set in the middle. Cool slightly and serve :)

Other recommendations:
Interior of Fort Hackenberg
Interior of Fort Hackenberg
Veckring is an unremarkable village with a deeply hidden treasure. Above the village, in the woody area one finds the entrance to one of the most stunning structures that were built in the XX century in Europe. Fort Hackenberg belongs to the military stronghold so-called "The Maginot Line". It got its name from the French minister of war (1929-1932). It is an extensive system of military structures that stretches from Swiss to the Belgium border and it main goal was to defend France against Germany. Ironically, none of the battles took place there. Hackenberg is the largest single Maginot Line bastion. The structure is so big that, inside, there is even a small electric trolley line. The tour (ticket costs 9 eur, one per day, at 2pm there is a guided tour in English) takes the visitors through the underground world of WW II soldiers. The tour shows several examples of the heavy artillery, tanks, guns, electrical stations and soldiers rooms. The way back is by electrical trolley.

Published on Saturday June 6th, 2015


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Wed, Jun 08 2016 - 10:16 PM rating by bootlegga

Adding a recipe to a travel report is a great idea!

Sat, Jun 13 2015 - 01:39 PM rating by mistybleu

Hi Rafal,
This was lovely read. I hadn't even thought about going to Lorraine, but it sounds quite quaint.
Thanks for sharing your experiences.
Amanda

Sat, Jun 13 2015 - 03:42 AM rating by hieronyma

You rearly know what you you are talking about. It seems that I missed the area, although I read about it. WWII is part of the history of my life. Nevertheless I should have a closer look at it, so many things to see, and especially to eat a Quiche Lorraine.You made me curious.
Thank you.
Hieronyma

Mon, Jun 08 2015 - 06:23 AM rating by wojtekd

Thanks a lot, great report about little-known region! I must go there! What will be the closest low-cost airport to fly there from Poland?

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