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Lorraine is situated in the north east corner of France bordering Germany, Belgium and Luxembourg. The region has been fought over for centuries by France and Germany and there is a strong Germanic influence. Lorraine is popular with nature lovers and hikers and is noted for its delightful medieval towns and villages as well as meandering rivers, rolling hills and wooded valleys.
Lorraine borders Champagne to the west, Franche-Compté in the south and is separated by the Vosges mountain range from Alsace to the east. This region of France is mostly rich farming country through which the rivers Meuse and Moselle flow, rising onto the forested slopes of the Vosges. Vittel mineral water, Baccarat crystal and of course quiche Lorraine comes from here. There are good winter sport facilities and long warm summers make it good cycling and hiking country.
Nancy is the regional capital and is a busy university town with a fine old quarter, the glory of which is the great Place Stanislas. The extreme elegance and grace of the square makes a powerful impact when first seen. The purity of the eighteenth century buildings, the columns and arcades and the delicacy of the wrought ironwork of the four gates that mark the entrances to the square must be unique in Europe.
Metz, in the Moselle valley, is today a technological centre with its own silicon valley on the outskirts, a marked contrast to the old part of the town where ancient houses and narrow streets surround the cathedral, which has stained glass windows by Mac Chagall.
Verdun, scene of bitter fighting in France in both world wars has become a poignant base from which to visit the battlefields and the cemeteries and memorials to those on both sides.
The château at Lunéville, built as a replica of, on a small scale, of Versailles and Domrémy-la-Pucelle, where you can visit the house where Joan of Arc was born, are both worth visiting.
In the shops and markets you can find bowls of pale amber green choucroute and stalls bulging with sausages, the smoked one that go well with choucroute and large coarsely cut but subtly flavoured sausages for boiling. Smoked fillets and loins of pork, terrines and pâtés of pork, duck, tongue and deep dishes with pieces of pork embedded in a clear jelly, and yes, quiche. Then there are trays of flavoured salads mixed with bacon and parsley, mild cured pink hams and strong creamy cheeses, some smothered with caraway seeds.
Small discoveries can alter the whole aspect of a city or the countryside, like the little boiled sweets scented with bergamot that you find in Nancy. Or the translucent preserves made from red currants, white currants and strawberries from Bar-le-Duc, the first city you enter driving east from Champagne, that are sometime served as a dessert with cream cheese. In Commercy the first madeleines were made and everywhere you can find pastries and cakes.
Generally long warm summers with temperatures reaching 30 plus degrees, lasting well into the autumn. Winter is cold with good snow cover on the mountains, with clear sunny stretches alternating with rain and snow.