Three different landscapes and a tragic commonality of history... Since the division of the Carolingian Empire in 843, there has been a constant struggle for the eastern part of France, and its borders have been constantly changing. However, it is difficult for a traveller who has arrived in these parts from Germany to notice the differences between the two lands. On both sides of the Rhine there are half-timbered houses and vineyard settlements clinginging to the slopes of the Vosges, just like the Baden villages to the Black Forest mountains. This landscape, formed on the site of the area of prehistoric mountains' ruins, has a common geological past. Gradually, the Lorraine plateau turns into the Champagne chalklands. There, in the north, were built the first Gothic temples, seeking upwards, to the sky. Among them, the Rhine cathedral played a special role as the coronation church of French kings. After visiting the beautiful Gothic buildings of Swason and Lana, you find yourself almost in Picardia.
Today begins our fascinating journey through the famous French lands. Since we will not have much time, we will devote this small evening mainly to organizational moments.
There is no more symbolic way to France than the one that leads to Strasbourg across the European bridge. For centuries, the culture of Alsace, which combines French and German traditions, has been the subject of controversy between two neighbouring countries. But just as long ago, it became the place where negotiations were held to promote the unity of peoples. In the center of the city there is a cathedral - an ancient symbol of the spiritual community of European countries. Four years after the end of the Second World War, which caused the wounds and this creation of architecture, Strasbourg was elected the seat of the European Council, and in 1952 - the European Parliament.
Today promises to be a busy and interesting day, because after breakfast and a walk we plan to leave Strasbourg and go south. Various sights are waiting for us on the way, so it's worth charging the camera.
What could be better than enjoying a cup of delicious coffee with a croissant in one of Strasbourg's charming cafes?
Strasbourg's Noty-Dame Cathedral, a true Gothic6 pearl, was built from pink Vosgian sandstone between 1176 and 1439. As was often the case with temples built over several centuries, only one tower lacked religious inspiration, money and time. The tower was completed in 1439 by Cologne architect Johannes Hultz. The openworked spire at a height of 142 m is crowned with a double cross. The famous sculpture of the double portals of the southern transept, including two female figures (the Church and the Synagogue), symbolizing the triumph of Christianity and the retreat of Judaism, has survived from the previous Romanesque building. Special attention should be paid to the so-called columns of Angels with an unusual image of the Last Judgment and astronomical clock of the XVI century. Every day at 12:30 p.m. the figures move, and the apostles move in succession before Christ. Here, as elsewhere in France, many figures suffered during the revolution. Some have been replaced by copies, and the originals are kept next to each other, in the Cathedral Museum, which also houses works of art from other Alsace temples.
Little France, a former quartol of tanners and tanners on the banks of the Ile River, looks particularly romantic in the evenings.
Try the specialities of Alsace cuisine: onion pie, veal stew and sauerkraut.
Many villages of Alsace vintners are protected by powerful fortifications, but the Upper Kenningburg Castle near the town of Celeste looks especially impressive. The fortress, which once belonged to the Staufen dynasty, was rebuilt in the early 20th century by Kaiser Wilhelm II. The grandiose medieval building became a popular destination for country walks.
Near the town of Celeste there are two beautiful villages with timber houses: Riboville with its picturesque market square and Rikvir, reminiscent of a museum.
Dinner is offered in one of the French restaurants in Colmar. This city is called the little Venice - for the canals, which are not in a hurry to sail boats, driven by real gondoliers.
We're heading south. We will visit many historical sights as well as plunge into the culture and history of these places on interesting excursions.
Early in the morning you should go for breakfast to a small and cozy place called Dussourd. It is located in the heart of the city and forms an authentic landscape of local streets. It serves traditional and everyone's favorite breakfast food, namely a variety of desserts, salads and sandwiches.
Since the heyday (12th - 17th centuries), not only the core of the Old Town has been preserved here, but also priceless works of art. The Isenheim Altar by Matisse Nithardt, the jewel in the Unterlinden Museum collection.
The Dominican Church in Colmar is located on Dominican Square. It is the second most important religious building in the city after St. Martin's Church. The church is famous for its Madonna in the rose pavilion created by Martin Schongauer.
Technical connoisseurs are particularly keen on Mulhouse: the museums here represent the history of the French railway, electricity, printed fabrics and wallpaper making. The National Automobile Museum exhibits hundreds of models of European automobiles, which are now antique.
After long and interesting excursions you just need to take a short break for a cup of strong coffee. Engel's Coffee will be perfect for this. Here there is a cozy and soothing atmosphere inherent in many French restaurants, as well as excellent coffee and desserts are served.
The motorway provides quick access to former fortified settlements at the Burgundy Gate in the historic province of France-Comté. Belfort at the foot of the Vosges guarded these places from unwanted intrusions. The Chapel of Noty-Dame-du-au-aux near Ronschanne, built by Le Corbusier in 1955, became a place of pilgrimage not only for Christians, but also for those interested in temple architecture.
Montbellier at the foot of the Jura Mountains is interesting with his castle. All the fortress buildings in this area were rebuilt and expanded by Woland, Marshal and architect Louis XIV after the Peace of Versailles (1648) and the annexation of Alsace to France.
There is nothing more pleasant than to spend an evening dining in a cozy and quiet restaurant. In Le Caseus you can find many different dishes of French cuisine, a special place in the menu takes fondue of different kinds, as well as a large number of different salads and snacks.
Today we plan to go to Champagne province. On the way we will definitely visit some very interesting places, among which there will be beautiful parks, incredible castles and other historical buildings and much more.
From Tang, the highway called the Ridge Road goes towards Lorraine. Behind each turn there are amazing views, and the main peak of the Vosges - the Grand Ballon (1424 m) - is already close. A 15-minute walk from the pass in clear weather opens a panorama of the Black Forest, Jura and the Alps.
Following the Moselle River, the road leads to Nancy, the former capital of the Dukes of Lorraine. By the will of Louis XV, the surrounding countryside became the lazy possession of his father-in-law, the Polish exiled king Stanislaw Leszczynski. The former monarch used funds from the royal treasury to build luxurious buildings here, he also built a triumphal arch in honor of his son-in-law Louis. The center of transformation was Stanislav Square, where public buildings, pavilions and skilled wrought iron fences are located in harmonious unity. And some of the city houses on Stanislava and Mazagran streets are wonderful examples of "noodle style", as the French joke goes.
Nancy's kitchen is the most vivid example of Lorraine style. You know him for a fact if you've ever eaten Lauren's guts. But first of all, the gastronomic symbol of the area is the mirable plum. It's used to make liquors, jams, pies, compotes... If you have to visit Nancy at the end of August, you can get to the festival in honor of the mirabel, from where you can not leave hungry and without a gift. Nancy's second pride is the numerous cheeses: the soft Munster, Munster-Géromé, the cosmic Brouère, the square Carré de l'Este. And then you can succumb to gastronomic debauchery and begin to weave off for both cheeks of Lauren's guts, pastries, pâtés, confitures, veal heads... Watch your figure? Then send the dandelion salad to the plate. On the second course menu, look for pork stew with vegetables - Potae Lauren. Choose a Macarons cake from the desserts and it's legend has it that it's made up of two tricky sweet tooth nuns.
At the end of the XIX century. Emile Galle and the House brothers created a French variation of the art Nouveau style, which gained international fame under the name of "art nouveau". And the collection of the Nancy High School Museum is nothing but gorgeous!
Local culinary products are offered at the Saint-Dizier Market in Saint-Dizier. Especially popular are sweet Macarons and Duchesses de Lorraine - chocolate candies with almond filling, as well as caramel Bergamottes de Nancy. The market works every day except Sunday.
The Porte de la Craffe protected the approaches to Nancy. For a long time it had a different name, given to it because there were lepers living next to it. The present name, given in the 15th century, is still not solved. There are two more or less plausible versions. According to one of them, the word escraffe or grafe is encoded in the old French word for shell. It is believed that the image of a shell was once adorned with the castle stone of the gate. According to the second version, it was a place of collection of scraps, which was then called this word. The building dates back to the 14th century. It appeared due to the fact that the city had grown, and it was necessary to connect two surrounding villages, a small and large Bourget. In 1463, two powerful round gate towers were built, covered with conical roofs. Their walls are over 3 meters thick. They withstood not a single attack by Carl the Bold during the Battle of Nancy. The tower windows are located in such a way that the archers are comfortable to shoot. The towers are decorated with stone figures of crows - once the shutters that covered the windows were held on them. Above the northern and southern entrances there were ledges, from where the defenders poured hot tar and oil on the attackers. The north entrance is not preserved in its original form.
We keep moving towards the Champagne region and today's stop is the city of Metz, which is known for its rich architecture. We also plan to visit several local restaurants and take a tour.
You can also spend the morning in a nice restaurant called Paul. It serves traditional French breakfast dishes, among which are all favorite croissants, various toasts, and most importantly, hot coffee. The atmosphere of the cafe is also very cozy and hospitable.
Metz, the largest city of Lorraine, was the outpost of France, and after 1871, the place where even the architecture manifested itself as a German nobility. Thus, in 1908, at the direction of Kaiser Wilhelm, a neo-romantic-style railway station building was built, surprising with its pompousness.
If you doubt whether or not to visit this cathedral, I will give you three reasons to visit it. First of all, the Cathedral of Metzo is the owner of the largest stained-glass windows in Europe - 6500 m2! Side windows occupy an area of about 400 m2. It's a really awesome sight! Secondly, the famous artist Mark Chagall made a number of stained-glass windows for the cathedral. Unfortunately, one of them was destroyed by robbers who had their eyes on the gilded decoration of the Cathedral of Metzo and broke a priceless stained glass window only to get inside. And finally, third, the red marble font. In ancient times, the Roman city of Divodurum stood on the site of modern Metz, which is typical enough for the era. The developed infrastructure of the city and its proximity to water made it possible to equip a high-quality water supply system (naturally, within the technical features of its time). Even bathrooms began to appear in the houses of the rich Romans. It is not known how the fate of the owner of one of them (most likely he died during the barbaric invasion in 451), but the bath of red marble survived the owner. She was used by churchmen as a font. Later on, Napoleon was so conquered by her appearance that he decided to send the bathroom as a gift to Josephine. It is only thanks to the persuasion of the rector of the Cathedral of Metzo that the unique bathroom remained in its place. Look at this miracle of Antiquity, adapted to the everyday life of the Christian Catholic cathedral!
After quite long walks and excursions it is worth taking a short break for a little rest and dinner. Café Les Moulins Bleus has everything you need for this. Traditional national cuisine is served here, and the interior is designed in a cosy and soothing style.
The Pompidou Centre in Metz is a modern architectural building designed by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastin. It is a hexagonal structure, crossed by three galleries, with a 7-metre high mast at its centre, reminiscent of the Pompidou Centre in Paris. This complex can host numerous exhibitions of contemporary art thanks to its vast area of 5,000 m² for exhibitions. The Pompidou-Metz Centre is an art centre dedicated to contemporary art. His cultural project includes temporary exhibitions, as well as live performances, films and negotiations in his premises. Ongoing workshops for children and young people provide an understanding of artistic movements and highlight the potential of art.
The German Gate in Metz is part of the medieval city fortifications, or rather of what has survived to this day. The seven-kilometre fortifications left a small fragment, and the gates are the only ones in the city. The German gate and a fragment of the wall were recognized as a historical monument in 1966.
The esplanade (wide open space) behind the Palace of Justice and the Muayen Bridge offer a beautiful view of Moselle's fan-sleeved sleeves.
La Winstub - a very cozy place, which is perfect for a quiet evening of a busy day in the company of friends and family. Traditional French cuisine is served here, especially it is worth noting a variety of desserts, as well as salads and other light snacks.
Our journey led us to the famous wine region of France called Champagne. There are many unique sights here, many of which will be visited by us as well.
The day begins, there is a lot to do, so without wasting time, we go for breakfast in a small but cozy cafe Brioche Dorée. Here you can find all the usual dishes for breakfast, from croissants to toasted with filling and strong coffee. The atmosphere of the cafe is also very friendly and positive.
Further down the road to Champagne, but still in Lorraine, lies Verdun. Today it's an idyllic little town. And during the First World War there were fierce battles between the Germans and the French. On both sides, 400,000 people died. The remains of 130,000 unidentified soldiers rest in the Hall of Fame near Duhomont.
Cretaceous soils in the vicinity of Epernay are ideal for growing chardonnay and pinot noir vines, of which most champagne wines are made. In the limestone hills there is a labyrinth of wine cellars, where the noble drink is aged to maturity. You can get an idea of how champagne is made during a tour of the most famous wine cellars, such as the Washroom et Chandon or Mercier.
La Cave À Champagne is a classic restaurant of French cuisine with all peculiarities and traits that are peculiar to gastronomic culture of this country. The interior is also very aesthetically pleasing and cozy. In the menu you can pay attention to such dishes as onion soup and vegetable salads.
Reims is Champagne's second largest city. Since 1179, French kings have been crowned here. The facade of Notre Dame Cathedral, decorated with 2300 figures, is one of the best examples of the French Gothic. Coloured stained-glass windows, which were damaged during the two world wars, were gradually restored; since 1974 the choir has been decorated with stained-glass windows based on sketches by Marc Chagall.
The Basilica of San Remy houses the tomb of the French kings and the Museum of San Remy is one of the richest museums in Europe.
Brasserie Le Jardin - Les Crayères is an excellent restaurant located in the garden of an ancient castle. Was awarded two Michelin stars and absolutely matches them.
Today is a kind of culmination of our trip, because we will be in the heart of France, we will see the famous sights of the city and its immediate surroundings, including the famous Eiffel Tower.
Chez Lou is a very cozy and hospitable place to start your day. The menu is quite extensive, containing mostly traditional French dishes, such as croissants, toasts, and various salads. Besides, it is worth mentioning that fine pizza of different kinds is prepared here.
The cathedral in Suasson was named after Gervasius and Protasius, the martyrs who died for their Christian faith at the end of the third century. Suasson Cathedral began to be built in 1176, but due to the wars its construction took several centuries. Thus, during the Hundred Years' War the construction was interrupted not only by military actions, but also by theft: the materials intended for the construction of the cathedral were quickly stolen. The northern tower of the cathedral was never built, because neither the church nor the secular authorities were able to find new funds to continue its construction. The distinctive feature of the cathedral is its asymmetrical facade, decorated with only one southern tower more than 65 meters high. Besides her, the cathedral has a low bell tower. The interior of the temple is decorated with the painting "Worship of the Magi" by Rubens, the work of Philip de Champagne "Jesus hands the keys to the Apostle Peter", white marble statues of the Virgin Mary and the Archangel Gabriel. In some places, however, stained-glass windows dating back to the 14th century have been preserved. Suasson Cathedral is called one of the largest cathedrals in Picardia.
On the edge of the forest between Compiègne and Ville-Cotre, on a low hill by the river stands an ancient fortified castle Pierrefonds. Chateau de Pierrefonds is one of the few surviving battle castles in France. It was built on the remains of a 12th century fortress that once belonged to the Pierrefonds of Kierzi. At the end of the 12th century, the fortress became the property of the king. In 1392, Charles VI gave the estate to his brother, Duke Louis of Orleans, as a gift. By that time, the old fortress was only underground. Louis decided to build a new type of castle - powerful, grandiose, luxurious. Perestroika began in 1396. The author of the project was Raymond du Temple, the architect Jean Le Noir. Construction continued for more than a decade. In 1407, the Duke of Orleans was killed. Pierrephone's been finished with the new owner.
Lunch is served at the Café Brasserie Embarcadère overlooking the Pierrefonds.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Lana, completed in 1235, belongs to the earliest Gothic buildings. A cable car leads to the Old Town.
Our journey is coming to an end, and our last stop is Paris. The ideal way to get to know the city is to climb the Eiffel Tower. The openwork metal structure was erected in 1889 and since then has become the main symbol of the French capital and France in general. In addition to its architectural merits, the tower is valuable to the traveler as it provides an excellent vantage point for the main districts and attractions of Paris - on a clear day you can see the surroundings from its upper tier for 70 km.
Visiting the main city of France, any traveler must visit, perhaps, one of the main museums in the world - the Louvre. It is rightfully a cultural pearl of the whole country and even of the world, because here are collected works of the greatest masters in the history of art.
The grandiose building of the Louvre attracts and frightens at the same time. It attracts by the abundance of masterpieces stored in its halls, and frightens by its gigantic size, numerous buildings, which are quite difficult to navigate. At the same time, the surprisingly rich history of the largest museum in the world escapes the attention of tourists. The military fortress was built in this place in 1202. It was supposed to defend Paris in case the enemy came up the Seine. Its name most likely comes from the word louver, meaning "fortified dwelling." The remains of this fortress are easy to see today. The foundations of the walls of the original Louvre were discovered during excavations. It was decided to preserve them under the roof of the museum. Any visitor today can walk along them on a wooden planking. A century and a half later, King Charles V decides to move into the Louvre from the Cité. And the fortress was then slightly ennobled. But in the present palace Louvre began to turn at the beginning of the XVI century, with the move to him Francis I. Gradually, decade after decade has appeared one wing after another. The palace became a museum in 1793. The basis of its collections consisted of the treasures acquired at different times by various kings. Among the most valuable exhibits are Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa, sculptures of Venus of Milos and Nike of Samothrace. The plan of the museum, which is given to visitors when they buy a ticket, resembles a geographical map on which the true treasures are marked in different colours. In addition to the museum's collections, everyone is also eager to take a look at the pyramid familiar from "The Da Vinci Code". Yo Ming Pei's gigantic creation has irritated half of Parisians since 1989, while others have grown accustomed to it. Its appearance in the Louvre's courtyard was due to the fact that in 1981 it was decided to increase the carrying capacity of the museum and to organize the space in the underground space so that everybody could feel comfortable and light. The idea of the American architect of Chinese origin solved these issues. And also it has given to all architectural ensemble of Louvre some intrigue and lightness. The Louvre is open to visitors on all days except Tuesday from 9:00 o'clock. It is recommended to come in advance to take a queue.