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Lorraine (region)

Region of France
Flag of Lorraine
Coat of arms of Lorraine
Coat of arms
Country  France
Prefecture Metz
 • President Jean-Pierre Masseret (PS)
 • Total 23,547 km2 (9,092 sq mi)
Population (2012-01-01)
 • Total 2,356,600
 • Density 100/km2 (260/sq mi)
Demonym(s) Lorrainer
Time zone CET (UTC+1)
 • Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
ISO 3166 code FR-M
GDP (2012)[1] Ranked 11th
Total €56.3 billion (US$72.5 bn)
Per capita €23,968 (US$30,827)
NUTS Region FR4

Lorraine (French pronunciation: ​; Lorrain: Louréne; Lorraine Franconian: Lottringe; German:    ; Luxembourgish: Loutrengen) is a former duchy annexed to France in 1766. It is now one of the 27 regions of France. The regional prefecture is Metz, although the largest metropolitan area of Lorraine is Nancy. Lorraine's name is derived from the medieval kingdom of Lotharingia, which in turn was named for either Emperor Lothair I or King Lothair II.

As a region in modern France, Lorraine consists of the four departments Meurthe-et-Moselle, Meuse, Moselle and Vosges, and contains 2,337 communes. Lorraine makes up nearly half of France's border with Germany, and also borders Belgium and Luxembourg. Its inhabitants are called "Lorrains" in French and number about 2,356,000.


  • History 1
  • Development of the borders of Lorraine in modern history 2
  • Geography 3
  • Language and culture 4
    • Cross of Lorraine 4.1
    • Cuisine 4.2
    • Beverages 4.3
    • Traditions 4.4
    • Housing 4.5
  • Economy 5
  • Major communities 6
  • Fauna and flora 7
    • Fauna 7.1
    • Flora 7.2
  • Notable Lorrainers 8
    • Art and literature 8.1
    • Economy and industry 8.2
    • Military 8.3
    • Musicians and actors 8.4
    • Politicians 8.5
    • Religion 8.6
    • Sciences 8.7
    • Sport 8.8
    • Miscellaneous 8.9
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • Further reading 11
  • External links 12


Saint-Etienne cathedral in Metz, capital of Lorraine.

Lorraine's borders have changed often in its long history. In 840, Charlemagne's son Louis the Pious died, and the Carolingian Empire was divided among Louis' three sons by the Treaty of Verdun of 843. The middle realm, known as Middle Francia, went to Lothair I, reaching from Frisia in Northern Germany through the Low Countries, Eastern France, Burgundy, Provence, Northern Italy, and all the way down to Rome. On the death of Lothair I, Middle Francia was divided in three by the Treaty of Prüm in 855, with the northern third called Lotharingia and going to Lothair II. Due to Lotharingia being sandwiched between East and West Francia, it was decided to semantically consider itself as a duchy from 870 onward, enabling the duchy to ally and align itself nominally with either eastern or western Carolingian kingdoms in order to survive and maintain its independence. This allowed it to be a duchy in name. while an independent kingdom in reality.

In 870, it allied itself with East Francia while remaining an autonomous duchy. In 962, when Otto the Great restored the Empire (restauratio imperii), Lorraine became an autonomous duchy within the Holy Roman Empire until 1766, after which it became annexed under succession law to France, via derivative aristocratic house alliances. Though the succession within these houses in tandem with other historical events would have later restored Lorraine's status as its own duchy, a vacuum in leadership was caused by its duke François Stephen de Lorraine (Francis I Holy Roman Emperor) taking the throne of the Holy Roman Empire, and his brother Prince Charles Alexander of Lorraine becoming governor of the Austrian Netherlands and deciding for political reasons to hide the heirs not born of his first deceased wife Archduchess Maria Anna of Austria.

The vacuum in leadership, the French Revolution, and the political results and changes issuing from the many nationalistic wars that followed in the next 130 years, ultimately resulted in Lorraine becoming a permanent part of the modern Republic of France, albeit coming under German control several times because of later wars. While Lorrainian separatists do exist, their political power and influence is negligible, and Lorraine separatism is aimed more at preserving its cultural identity rather for genuine political independence.

With enlightened leadership and at a crossroads between French and German cultures, Lotharingia experienced tremendous economic, artistic, and cultural prosperity during the 12th and 13th centuries under the Hohenstaufen emperors. Along with the rest of Europe, this prosperity was terminated in Lorraine in the 14th century by a series of harsh winters, bad harvests, and the Black Death. During the Renaissance, a flourishing prosperity returned to Lotharingia until the Thirty Years' War. France annexed Lorraine by force in 1766, a condition that remains today. However, the population was mixed, with the north largely Germanic, speaking Lorraine Franconian and other Germanic dialects. Strong centralized Nationalism had only begun to replace the feudalist system which had formed the multilingual borders, and insurrection against the French occupation influenced much of its early identity. In 1871, the German Empire regained a part of Lorraine (Bezirk Lothringen/Département de la Lorraine, corresponding to the current department of Moselle). The department formed part of the new Imperial German State of Alsace-Lorraine, which created a revanchist movement to recover it in France.

The Imperial German administration strongly discouraged the French language and culture in favor of High German, which became the administrative language (Geschäftssprache[2]), and the language was used in schools in those Lorrainese areas considered to be Germanophone, an often arbitrary categorisation. French remained in use only in primary and secondary schools in municipalities definitely considered Francophone, such as Château-Salins and the surrounding arrondissement,[3] as well and in their local administration.[4] However, after 1877 higher education, including state-run colleges, universities and teacher seminaries, was exclusively in German.[5] The prevalence of German and the partial usage of French, though restricted, were both guaranteed by the 1911 constitution of Alsace-Lorraine.[6] While many toponyms of Germanic etymology in Lorraine were adapted to the High German standard (i.e. Germanised[7]) a number of genuine Francophone toponyms remained untouched, in contrast to the Nazi occupation between 1940 and 1944, when arbitrary German translations replaced all French names, with Château-Salins being called Salzburg in Lothringen.

In the 1919 Versailles treaty, the former German Empire suffered severe territorial losses, including the portion of Lorraine territory that had been part of its state of Alsace-Lorraine. With the exception of its de facto annexation by Nazi Germany during the Second World War, that area has since remained a part of France. During that war, the Lorraine cross was a symbol of Free France.

Development of the borders of Lorraine in modern history

Lorraine in 1870: Colors show the original departments' territories.

The administrative region of Lorraine is larger than the historical duchy of Lorraine, which gradually came under French sovereignty between 1737 and 1766. The modern region includes provinces and areas that were historically separate from the duchy of Lorraine proper. These are:

Some people consider the traditional province of Lorraine as limited to the duchy of Lorraine proper, while other people consider that it includes Barrois and the Three Bishoprics. The problem is that this duchy of Lorraine was originally the duchy of upper Lorraine, and did not include the entire area called Lorraine.

The case of Barrois is the most complicated: the western part of Barrois (west of the Meuse River), known as Barrois mouvant, was detached from the rest of Barrois in the early 14th century and passed under French sovereignty. On the other hand, the largest part of Barrois (east of the Meuse River) was the Duchy of Bar, part of the Holy Roman Empire, which was united with the duchy of Lorraine in the 15th century by the marriage of the Duke of Bar, René I of Naples, with the daughter of the Duke of Lorraine, Isabella. Thus the duchies of Bar and Lorraine were united in personal union under the same duke, although formally they maintained separate existences until their incorporation into France in 1766.

During the French Revolution, four departments were created on the main parts of the territories of Barrois, Three Bishoprics and the Duchy of Lorraine: Meuse, Meurthe, Moselle and Vosges. After 1870 some parts of Moselle and Meurthe became German and the parts that stayed French formed the new Meurthe et Moselle. After 1918 Moselle became French again. When the French regions were created in the middle of the 20th century, it was decided to gather Meurthe et Moselle, Meuse, Moselle and Vosges into a single region known as Lorraine.


Chajoux Valley

Lorraine is the only French region to have borders with three other countries: Belgium (Wallonia), Luxembourg, and Germany (Saarland, Rhineland-Palatinate). It also borders the French regions of Franche-Comté, Champagne-Ardenne, which were at times part of historical Lorraine Lotharingia, and Alsace, which, while still part of Lorraine's identity, is now a separate administrative region. The location of Lorraine led to it being a paramount strategic asset as the crossroads of four nations. This, along with its political alliances, marriage alliances, and the ability over the centuries to choose sides between East and West, gave it a tremendously powerful and important role in transforming all of European history, and indeed breed with royal families over all of Europe, play kingmaker, and seat rulers on the thrones of the Holy-Roman Empire and Austro-Hungarian Empire Austria-Hungary, and others.

Most of the region forms part of the Paris Basin, with a plateau relief cut by river valleys presenting cuestas in the north-south direction. The eastern part is sharper with the Vosges Mountains. Many rivers run through Lorraine, including Moselle, Meurthe, and Meuse. Most of them are on the Rhine drainage basin.

Lorraine has an oceanic climate with continental influences.

Language and culture

Fortifications in Longwy, inscribed on the World Heritage list by UNESCO as part of the Fortifications of Vauban

Most of Lorraine has a clear French identity with the exception the northeastern part of the region, today known as Moselle, which is historically German-speaking. In 1871, Bismarck annexed about a third of today's Lorraine to the newly formed German Empire following the Franco-Prussian War. This disputed third has a culture not easily classifiable as either French or German, since both Romance and Germanic dialects are spoken there. Like many border regions, Lorraine was a patchwork of ethnicities and dialects not mutually intelligible with either standard French or German (See Linguistic boundary of Moselle).

Traditionally, two languages are native to Lorraine. The first is Lorrain, which is a moribund minority Romance language spoken in southeastern Lorraine. The second is the Germanic Lorraine Franconian, a group of three Franconian dialects independently surviving in northern and western Lorraine. They are referred to collectively as Plàtt in Franconian or francique or platt (lorrain) in French (not to be confused with lorrain, the Romance language). Now mainly rural and isolated, these dialects gradually differ as one travels, though are mutually intelligible. Lorraine Franconian is distinct from neighbouring Alsatian, to the south, although the two are often confused. Neither has official status where they are spoken, but Alsatian is far more widely used. Technically, Lorraine Franconian is a catch-all term for historically three dialects—Luxemburgish, Mosel Franconian, and Rhine Franconian, and all are identical to the same dialects spoken in the neighboring Rhineland of Germany.

Like most of France's regional languages (e.g. Breton, West Flemish, Catalan, Provençal and Alsatian), Lorrain and Lorraine Franconian have largely been replaced by French as a direct result of more than a century of nationalistic policies that require public schooling to be conducted only in French. Now, however, there are efforts being made to revive Lorraine Franconian, whose linguistic vitality is still relatively high. Recent efforts include the use of bilingual signs in Franconian areas, and Franconian-language classes for young children whose parents can no longer speak their ancestral language.

Cross of Lorraine

During World War II, the cross was adopted as the official symbol of the Free French Forces (French: Forces Françaises Libres, or FFL) under Charles de Gaulle.

The capitaine de corvette Thierry d'Argenlieu suggested the adoption of the Cross of Lorraine as the symbol of the Free French.

In his General Order n° 2 of 3 July 1940, vice-admiral Émile Muselier, then chief of the naval and air forces of the Free French for only two days, created the bow flag displaying the French colours with a red Cross of Lorraine, and a cockade also featuring the Cross of Lorraine.

De Gaulle is memorialised by a gigantic 44.3-meter (145 feet) high Cross of Lorraine at his home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises.


The use of the potato in Lorraine can be traced back to 1665 and it is used in various traditional dishes of the region such as the potée lorraine. The Breux potato, which takes its name from the village of Breux in the north of the Meuse, is considered to be excellent by experts due to the perfect conditions of the area. Smoked bacon is also a traditional ingredient of the cuisine of Lorraine. It is used in various traditional dishes of the region, including the famous quiche lorraine. The mirabelle plum of Lorraine is the emblematic fruit of Lorraine. It is used in pies and other desserts, as well as in alcoholic beverages.

Traditional dishes in the region include:

  • Quiche Lorraine
  • Pâté lorrain (chopped pork and veal flavoured with white wine and baked in puff pastry)
  • Potée lorraine (a stew of smoked meats and sausages, with cabbage and root vegetables)
  • Andouille (tripe sausage)

Some cheeses come from Lorraine: Carré de l'Est, Brouère, Munster-géromé,Tourrée de l'Aubier..

Desserts include: Madeleine, Macaron, Rum baba, Plombières ice-cream, various pie recipes (brimbelles bilberry, mirabelle plum, rhubarb, quark...)


  • Wine: The most well-known wine of the region is the Côtes de Toul. There are vineyards in the valley of the Moselle, the valley of Seille, the valley of Metz, and the valley of Sierck.
  • Beer: Historically, Lorraine was the location of many breweries, including the Champigneulles founded on June 20, 1897.


Lorraine has a Catholic heritage and almost every village has its church, even if many don't have a dedicated priest anymore. Church bells, which announce Angelus time (and often toll the hours), stop tolling during the Holy Week. They are replaced by children who use ratchets while saying C'est l'Angélus! After Easter, they go from house to house and receive small presents.

Sinterklaas is celebrated in Lorraine, where he is called "Saint Nicolas". Each year, more than 150,000 people gather in the streets of Nancy to celebrate Sinterklaas, and about that number in the whole region.[8]


Except for dispersed settlement in the Vosges mountains, traditional farms display linked houses, forming linear village.

They are built quite far from the road, the area between the house and the road is called l'usoir. Until the 1970s, the usoir was used to store farming tools, firewood or even manure. Today they are generally used as a garden or for car parking.

Furniture developed a specific identity after the Thirty Years' War: the "Lorrain style".


At 44 billion euros (in 2000), Lorraine generates 3.4% of France's GDP. Despite ranking 11th in population, it ranks 8th in GDP out of the 26 regions of France, making it per capita among the top economic producing regions in the country, along with Alsace and Île-de-France (Paris). The logistics and service sectors have experienced the strongest growth in recent years, while the traditional industries (textiles, mining, metallurgy) have experienced a decline. Consequently, the region has experienced major difficulty with rising unemployment, although it is still below the national average. In 1997 the last iron ore mine in Lorraine, which once produced over 50 million tonnes of iron, was closed.[9]

Lorraine France
GDP 2000 44.3 Billion Euros 1.816 Trillion Euros
Agriculture 2.5% 2.8%
Industry 30.7% 25.6%
Service 66.8% 71.6%
Unemployment June 2002 8.4% 9%

Major communities

Dawn sky in Metz

Fauna and flora



Notable Lorrainers

Art and literature

Economy and industry


Musicians and actors






See also


  1. ^  
  2. ^ cf. "Gesetz, betreffend die amtliche Geschäftssprache" (Law concerning the official transaction language) of 31 March 1872, Gesetzblatt für Elsaß-Lothringen (Legal gazette for Alsace-Lorraine), p. 159.
  3. ^ The imperial Statthalter was entitled to allow French as language of instruction in elementary and secondary schools in prevaillingly Francophone areas, cf. §4 of the "Gesetz, betreffend das Unterrichtswesen" (Law concerning the educational system) of 12 February 1873, Gesetzblatt für Elsaß-Lothringen, p. 37.
  4. ^ The 'Law concerning the official transaction language' provided for exceptions from the German language in areas with Francophone majorities.
  5. ^ Otto Pflanze, Bismarck: Der Reichskanzler [Bismarck and the development of Germany, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1990; German], Munich: Beck, 2008, p. 484. ISBN 978 3 406 54823 9.
  6. ^ Cf. § 26 of the "Gesetz über die Verfassung Elsaß-Lothringens" (Law on the Constitution of Alsace-Lorraine), retrieved on 24 April 2013.
  7. ^ Such as replacing French pronunciation spellings of the local dialects to standard High German orthography, e.g. …bourg to …burg, …house to …hausen, …troff to …dorf, …ange to …ingen etc.
  8. ^
  9. ^ Iron Ore in 1997

Further reading

  • Putnam, Ruth. Alsace and Lorraine: From Cæsar to Kaiser, 58 B.C.-1871 A.D. New York: 1915.

External links

  • Lorraine : Between war and art: memories Lorraine - Official French website (in English)
  • Site of the Regional Council
  • A short guide to the Lorraine region and its main attractions
  • - Share your Lorraine
  • Business in Lorraine

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