Lorraine is the only region in France bordering three other countries. They are Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany. Inside France, Lorraine borders the regions of Franche-Comté, Alsace, and Champagne-Ardenne. Because of its important location, Lorraine has played a prominent role in European history. Northern Lorraine is still home to local Germanic dialects, not to be confused with the Romance dialect of Lorrain or the Alsatian language.
The cuisine of Lorraine depends heavily on potatoes, particularly the Breux potato, and smoked bacon, which is used in the well-known dish quiche Lorraine. Mirabelle plums are local, and are used in pies, desserts, and spirits. The local pinot noir is the most famous wine of the region, and beer is popular here as well, as Lorraine was the home of the Champigneulles brewery. Metz and Nancy are the two most prominent cities in Lorraine.
Metz, birthplace of the Carolingian dynasty, was important as far back as Gallo-Roman times, and traces its history over 3,000 years. Though it is a Romance culture, it has Germanic influences. The list of things to see in Metz is far more extensive than can be catalogued here. Some highlights include the Gothic Cathédrale Saint-Etienne from the 13th century. It contains the largest expanses of stained glass in the world, with over 70,000 square feet of them. Saint-Maximin church, which was built from the 12th through 15th centuries, was the baptismal place of Paul Verlaine. More modern religious structures to visit in Metz include the Protestant Temple neuf, a neo-Romanesque church built from 1901-1904. The local synagogue, built from 1848-1850, is also made in the neo-Romanesque style.
The homes of François Rabelais and Paul Verlaine are in Metz, and the granaries of Chèvremont and Antonistes from the 13th and 14th centuries are of interest as well. The opera house in Metz, built from 1732-1752, is built in a Tuscan-influenced, neo-classical style, and Metz’ covered market is one of the oldest and most spectacular in France. The Centre Pompidou-Metz was built from 2006-2010, and is a museum of contemporary art designed by Shigeru Ban and Jean Gastine. The railway station is a neo-Romanesque building from the early 20th century featuring one stained glass window of the Emperor Charlemagne on his throne and another of the Knight Roland.
Nancy has a population of around half a million, with about 100,000 in the city proper. In this city you can find the Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière, and Place d’Alliance, all UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Nancy is a regional arts center that rivaled Paris in the early 20th century due to the Ecole de Nancy group of artists and architects founded by Emile Gallé. The Art Nouveau style is prominent, and resulted in Nancy being nicknamed “Capitale de l’Est”. Nancy contains many Art Nouveau structures. You can find many fascinating objects at the Musée de l’Ecole de Nancy, housed in a 1909 building. But Nancy’s old city traces its heritage to the Middle Ages. Botanical gardens and an aquarium to round out the many sites here.
Lorraine has far more in the way of historic sites and places of interest. A vacation there is easy to fill with important historical and artistic places. Editing the list of interesting sites to fit in a brief vacation may be a challenge, but no doubt it will be a culturally and historically rich visit.