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Friday, November 12, 2010

5 Reasons to Love the Lorraine (besides Quiche)

[Saint-Etienne Church, Bar-le-Duc]
Well, here we are - deep in the heart of the Lorraine. Actually, we're in a small town called Bar-le-Duc that is just about everything you'd expect from life outside big-city France. Charming, friendly, and awash in beautiful landscape - pots of flowers overflowing from cracked windowsills and bridge paths leading over bubbly little streams. So French & oh-so-lovely.

Since right now I'm probably too stuffed from my "adopted" French mom's garden-to-table home cooking (I plan to take rigorous notes between folk-fulls), I'm writing this post ahead of time to give a little window into what's special about the Lorraine.  Just a few things I observed during out last trip which make the region stand out from other areas of France. Really, it's such a beautiful country I guess we don't need to search that hard to find something to love. But, I'll give it a good go anyway.

1. Grand Squares

[Place Stanislas, Nancy]

If you've stepped anywhere near Paris, you are sure to be considerably wow'd by the grandeur of its monuments, squares, and public works.  While I love the sprawling landscape which makes Provence an idyllic "nature escape", I can't help but yearn for a bit of gilded French grandeur every once in awhile.  With splendid squares like Place Stanislas, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, you're sure to get your fill of Gaulic inspiration in the Lorraine.

2. Beautiful Cathedrals

[Basilique Saint-Epvre, Nancy]

Again, in a country of awe-inspiring cathedrals, it's definitely hard to pick a favorite. I remember quite a blissful late-spring morning spent in the Reims Cathedral that quite literally took my breath away and almost put a stop to our afternoon champagne-cave hopping (huge emphasis on almost here). So just when you thought you'd seen it all, or a few glasses of the bubbly had made you think you had, the Lorraine offers it's own set of exquisite cathedrals, including the Nancy Cathedral  and the Metz Cathedral (the city most recently known for becoming home to the latest extension of the Pompidou Center in Paris).

3. The Madeleine

Now if someone could annex a pain au chocolat factory to the town of Commercy (the birthplace of the madeleine), I think we might just have maybe one of the newest tourist centers in France & quite possibly one of the most delicious. Anyhoo, these golden darlings are on our breakfast table every morning & they're simply yummy.

4. Historical Sites

[WWI Memorial & city of Verdun along the Meuse river]

If you're a history buff, then the Lorraine is for you.  Whether it's touring the WWI battlefields & monuments in Verdun, or a visit to the home & library of Charles de Gaulle, the region has much to offer in terms of historical significance for France & Europe at large. And you'll certainly find a proud, humble people more than willing to share their stories.

5. A Taste of Country Life

Long rolling-hills, grazing cows, and organic (biologique) farms dotted along the road make the Lorraine an excellent place to escape for some fine French-country living.  Well, we don't really have a lot to "slow down" a lot from living in the South of France, but traveling to the north does bring a surprising change of landscape and a richness of cuisine not found in Provence.  Besides rich and indulgent quiches & tarts, the region also adapts some flavors from it's neighbor, Alsace.  All I know is that we've been promised a heaping plate of sauerkraut & sausages on Saturday which puts us in a whole other category of hearty, fall delights.

Hope everyone has some equally delicious plans for the weekend... bon weekend à tous from the Lorraine!


  1. Oh, what a wonderful place, Tuula! I am such a history buff and would love visiting those places I've only read about. :-) LOVE your country photos - how splendid to be fed such delish things by your French mom. :-)

  2. Lovely! I wish I could go!

    By the way I really love that statue under 4. Historical Sites - what is it called??

  3. Lovely photos as always Tuula! You have me yearning to visit. And the food, of course, has me wanting to drop everything and rush over for dinner!

    Enjoy the visit!

  4. I love how different it feels when I travel north; the landscape, the food, the architecture, It makes it feel like you're in another country.
    And my last meal at my belle-mere's was sauerkraut & sausages!! xo

  5. Thanks for the nice comments! We're on the last day of our 'Lorraine time' & off for our four hours tomorrow in Paris.

    Krista, we went to the Charles de Gaulle Memorial (with library) & it was great, you'd love the historical side here!

    Natalie, I'll have to look up the name of the statue when we get back- should be on photo (I hope!)

    Tanya, hope you're having a great weekend with your raclette dinner, I'm jealous :)

    Sara, the sauerkraut & sausage was awesome, if not HUGE today :) super good.. xo

  6. Ahh those madeleines have my name on them ;) I haven't been to the region but from your photographs, I would enjoy the cathedrals and the grand squares!

  7. Natalie, the statue is called the Verdun WWI War Monument, find a link to more about it here:

    Hope that was helpful!

  8. Hello Tuula,
    I am loving your blog-thank you for sharing! Colette ~Afrique du Sud

  9. Thanks Colette, that's so great to hear! - and really appreciate the blog support :) Hope all's well in the "Sud" :) Tuula