The top cultural centres, events and festivals throughout the province
OUT AND ABOUT
Spend a weekend – or longer – on an organised tour of the Pays de Bitche, in the heart of the Parc Naturel Régional des Vosges du Nord, visiting its châteaux, forts and glassworks, and discovering the best gastronomy and lodgings the area has to offer. Tel: +33 (0)3 87 06 16 16. (www.tourisme-paysdebitche.fr)
Created with the planting of 36 million trees on the Great War battlefield, the Forest of Verdun covers 10,000 hectares and has earned the title of ‘Exceptional Forest’.
Grand, La Romaine was an important sanctuary in ancient times. Discover its vast amphitheatre and its mosaic, one of the largest of its kind in Europe. From here you can reach Domrémy-la-Pucelle, the village where Joan of Arc was born. (www.tourisme-ouest-vosges.fr)
With 12,000 species growing across 35 hectares, the Jardin Botanique Jean-Marie Pelt in Villers-lès-Nancy is one of the largest botanical gardens in France. Features include a rhododendron valley, an arboretum and five tropical greenhouses. If the heat gets too much then head for the Jardin d’altitude du Haut Chitelet, 1,200 metres up in the Vosges, near Xonrupt-Longemer. Here, there are 2,500 species from mountain regions all over the world.
Lorraine occupies a very special place in the history of glass-making in Europe. You can see this craft in action at Cerfav (Centre Européen de Recherches et de Formation aux Arts Verriers) in Vannes-le-Châtel and at the Centre International d’Art Verrier in Meisenthal. At the former, you can even have a go at blowing your own glass.
At Varangeville you can head 160 metres underground and see France’s last working salt mine. The 21⁄2-hour visit (€15) needs to be booked in advance.
The Centre Pompidou-Metz is provincial France’s largest exhibition space. It has three major galleries, a theatre and an auditorium.
The Opéra National de Lorraine in Nancy hosts operas and classical music concerts all year round.
At the Centre Chorégraphique National – Ballet de Lorraine, also in Nancy, a company of ballet dancers offer performances, workshops and dance classes.
Des flammes à la lumière, Europe’s biggest ‘son et lumière’ spectacle dedicated to the Great War, takes place every summer.
Bar-le-Duc’s Festival RenaissanceS will feature live music, street theatre and circus acts, all with a Renaissance theme, on July 5-7.
The Grand Est Mondial Air Ballons show takes place at Chambley aerodrome in Hagéville from July 26 to August 4 this year.
The Festival International du Film Nancy Lorraine runs from August 30 to September 9 this year.
Vauban en Lumière will occur by torchlight within the Vauban fortifications at Longwy on the evening of October 12 – with animations, surprises and gourmandises.
There will be more specific gourmandises at Metz’s Fêtes de la Mirabelle in August. In October, Nancy stages its annual Nancy Jazz Pulsations festival – which isn’t actually all about jazz; and Pont-à-Mousson’s Fête de la Truffe is traditionally held in November.
Nancy is the place to go for the Fêtes de Saint-Nicolas on the Saturday closest to December 6. Children all across Lorraine stay up later than usual the night before, hanging up their stockings and leaving sugar and carrots out for St Nick’s donkey. The next morning they find presents in their stockings, and then they head down to place Stanislas for the parade.
For reduced prices at many of these attractions, and others, get a free Pass Lorraine at www.passlorraine.com
From France Today magazine