Welcome to the Grand Est region
Land of traditions, know-how and gastronomy, located in the heart of Europe, it is a country of great interests and rich attractions that will certainly be appreciated by the amateurs of discovery and authenticity. The various departments are particularly famous for their champagne, white wines, sauerkraut, mirabelle plums and magical Christmas markets, but they are also famous for their built heritage and the quality of their cities of Art and History.
Which will be your lodging model in the Grand Est region?
The Grand Est, a new French region created in December 2015 by grouping the former regions Alsace, Champagne/Ardenne and Lorraine divided into 10 departments and 5 tourist regions. It borders several European countries, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany, Switzerland and the French regions of Bourgogne Franche Comté, Île de France and Hauts de France. Due to the rivers Rhine, Moselle and other canals, it is particularly open to international trade with its connection to the ports of Antwerp and Rotterdam.
What are the 10 departments of the Grand Est region?
Endowed with many attractions, it is a green and hilly region, crossed by the Meuse and its tributaries. The Ardennes can attract as much lovers of open-air activities as those who are fascinated by the beauty of art and the cultural heritage. A cross-border destination bordering Luxembourg and Belgium, the Ardennes are a subtle blend of escape, tradition and adventure.
This territory where nature is omnipresent also has a rich history, which is closely linked with that of the kings of France. Moreover, it is the region where one of the most precious nectars in the world is produced, the famous sparkling beverage which fills up our cups on the first opportunity. Currently, the visit of the champagne cellars is the most popular activity in the region, placing the culture in second place.
The historical and architectural heritage is very rich, the region is a pioneer of arts and traditions with the school of Nancy artistic movement and the famous Baccarat crystal works. The reputation of excellence in luxury and design of this region crosses the borders of France and is exported all over the world. When it comes to gastronomy, don't miss the quiche Lorraine or the mirabelle tart, it is the biggest food producing area here.
The 3 borders country, with its plains, ponds and forests landscapes, also has an important military patrimony to which are added its traditional know-how as well as its architectural and religious wealth. The art of living in Moselle also moves by its sweetness and spirit, in order to explore or relax, dive into an unexpected tourism. Due to its location, history and culture this is a perfect tourist destination.
Due to its wide range of countryside, it's an perfect destination to enjoy the beauty of nature. Famous for its colorful and lovely villages, ideal for taking a stroll and equally important for the high quality of its museums. The Upper Rhine combines perfectly nature, culture and traditions through numerous tours in the region. Alsace is a real little corner of paradise for living intense experiences, savoring the time spent here.
With its champagne hillsides and a mosaic of varied regions, the destination of Aube calls for moments of relaxation and total escape. Beyond the vineyard scenery, the region offers interesting routes through rolling hills and forests. The stained glass route is a further alternative, the medieval district of Troyes, with its 10 churches, will be the best proof of the ancient know-how.
Like the Aube, this is a region which produces champagne, but is also recognized as an important place for basketry and cutlery. The plateau, hills and forests alternate with each other, allowing the contact with the nature, the resourcing and the discovery. Homeland of the philosopher Diderot and General De Gaulle, the area is blessed with a generous nature that has preserved a wealth of architectural and ancestral knowledge.
A place very marked by historical conflicts in the past, that today hosts the World Peace Center. Fortunately, the region has many other beautiful images to share with you through its plains, plateaus, the green valley of the Meuse, the forests of the Argonne massif, the regional natural park and historic sites. To visit the Meuse is to go in search of multiple gems, a journey of emotions and wonder into a wonderful nature.
Strasbourg is a famous European city, not for the institutions, but for its old town, the gothic cathedral, and Venice, also the Mount Sainte-Odile and his convent, the castle of Haut Koenigsbourg and the lovely authentic villages, as if still stuck in time. Concerning the gastronomy, there is the sauerkraut at the Christmas market with the mulled wine, the "flammekueches", delicious small tartes flambées and also the Alsace beer!
Being the third most wooded region in France, the Vosges have an exceptional natural environment with thermal springs of high fame, rivers and waterfalls, mountain lakes and the preserved flora of the vosges massif. Numerous marked trails allow you to visit this massif. In winter, cross-country skiing is also an activity that is very popular with the cures of Vittel or Contrexéville.
Which are the 5 tourist regions of the Grand Est?
In the Grand Est region, you will find the pleasure of exploring, marveling and sharing your sensations. Alsace, Champagne, Ardenne, Vosges and Lorraine come together to offer you a full range of options to enjoy your stay. In fact, it is through the variations of their soils that our tourist regions invite you to rediscover the flavors and scents and to observe their ancestral know-how, to marvel at the cultural and religious heritage and finally to disconnect through natural spaces and national parks.
An authentic place to live an intense and relaxing experience. Whatever your expectations, you will be exploring an exceptional destination. Alsace has preserved its identity, with its typical villages, its knowledge and its outstanding heritage, resolutely epicurean with unique cultural traditions. The Alsace Wine Route can also be explored by bicycle, with your hair blowing in the wind, along the marked bicycle paths that cross vineyards and villages. When winter comes, the half-timbered houses and medieval streets are illuminated. The Christmas markets take place, the atmosphere becomes magical, the cinnamon fragrances and other spices fill the ambiance. Over 70 Alsatian towns and villages are welcoming you with a cup of mulled wine in hand, you can't get enough of it!
The cradle of a wine recognized all over the world, the Champagne region can be discovered through sparkling, daring or romantic experiences. It is a destination in constant effervescence! Here, you can bubble in different ways, go on the road of Champagne through hillsides and cellars, taste the nectar of kings in the heart of vineyards and fly over in a hot air balloon with a breathtaking view. Are you looking for a way to recharge your batteries? Then go to the natural park of the Forêt d'Orient where nautical activities, swimming and ecotourism outings abound in a green setting. At the confluence of three departments, Champagne is renewed at each stage of your stay, with its outstanding heritage, the region is the place where kings of France were crowned.
The Massif des Vosges region
The Massif des Vosges is a haven of peace in the heart of a preserved nature. It is a favorite place for hikers, sportsmen and lovers of the countryside. The Vosges massif is a peaceful place where you can enjoy an invigorating experience in any season, following the rhythm of your desires, either as a family, a solo or a couple. In the Vosges, you can reach the clouds on the route des Crêtes or at the top of the Ballons, explore the Vallée des Lacs, climb the sacred mountain of Donon...In the winter, the Vosges Massif, with its snowy pine forests and its lakes, will take you back to a fairy tale. Set out to conquer the Nordic activities of the icy lakes glistening in the sun, there are 20 mountain resorts at your disposal, from the very popular Nordic skiing to the unique horse tubing, and even the downhill runs.
The Ardennes region
The Ardennes are the country of Rimbaud, of misty peaks and of legends. They will take you on an enigmatic and joyful journey that will awaken your senses. Here nature is friendly, warm and authentic. This wild and mysterious region of the Ardennes is the source of countless legends and has also inspired a lot of artists. Grandiose landscapes are revealed in the heart of the regional natural park, along the heaths, the wooded meanders, the hedgerows and the cliffs. The medieval animations will undoubtedly delight families, taking young and old alike to another century. In Sedan, in the biggest fortified castle in Europe, you can enjoy an immersion in the Middle Ages during a festival. Afterwards, you should keep some time to visit museums and other monuments of the cultural heritage in this region.
Lorraine is steeped in history, situated at the confluence of eras and surprises by its daring cultural mix, a multifaceted prism, it is artistic, festive, patrimonial, while being deeply close to the memory and to nature. It is a region that shakes up preconceived ideas with audacity, while being overflowing with disconcerting hospitality. You will never be left hungry, the unrivalled Lorraine quiches and mirabelle plum tarts will come to your rescue and awaken your taste buds in an explosion of gourmet flavors! Lorraine offers you, every season, a festival of tones, where the landscapes display their most beautiful assets. In the heart of the largest factories or confidential workshops, the secrets of the crystal, the art of glass, ceramics or violin making are revealed.
In the region, there is a wide range of tourism activities going from classical touristic discovery, to more in depth cultural visit or enjoy unique sports experiences. A tourist map of the whole region can be found by clicking below to access the download page on the Grand Est tourism website.
Which are the 12 must-see cities in the Grand Est?
The city has kept a lot of evidences of his past as the half-timbered facades and the religious buildings testify it. The stained glass windows of the Notre-Dame en Vaux church are a real highlight when you visit, as is the boat trip on the rivers of Nau and Mau to discover the rich heritage and view the various structures from a different angle.
A true crossroads city at the heart of major European routes, Metz has a very important historical, cultural and religious heritage, spread over quarters, each with its own identity. A green city with many parks, the contemporary part of Metz unfolds in the recent neighborhoods of the Amphitheatre and the Seille Park.
Roman crossroads, Merovingian villa, property of the Dukes of Alsace and the Hohenbourg monasteries, the city has crossed the ages to become an imperial city. The Renaissance also left its mark on the city which, spared from destruction, has preserved its heritage. Obernai knows how to seduce visitors with the splendor of its vestiges and its innate taste for the art of living.
A prestigious city of art and history in the heart of Europe, Strasbourg is an essential stopover when traveling through Alsace. On the Grande Ile, the downtown core is a UNESCO heritage site. All along the pedestrian streets, the visitor cannot but admire this magnificent heritage. The district of Petite France will certainly transport you into another era.
You will fall in love with this charming little Venice with all its old residences. The capital of the Alsatian wines has kept its picturesque character and architectural heritage, with half-timbered houses and forged iron signs, this old quarter is an enchanting place. La rue des marchands is well known for its houses, including that of Pfister ( dating from 1537).
As industrial and economic center of the region, the city is famous for its museums of technology in automobiles, trains, fabrics, wallpaper and electrical energy. La place de la Réunion, historical city center, makes up a harmonious whole in the Rhenish Renaissance style. Here you will also find several pedestrian shopping streets.
A masterpiece of Gothic art, the Cathedral of the Angels remains the main emblem of the city. The historic center and the religious buildings of the city bear witness to the fact that 33 kings of France have been crowned. The royal place, with its arcades and the square of Drouot are today very animated places with numerous bars, café terraces, restaurants and boutiques.
From the air, the old city of Troyes, the historic capital of southern Champagne, is shaped like a champagne cork, a particularity resulting from the location occupied by the ancient ramparts that protected the city. The half-timbered houses hide secret passages such as the Ruelle des Chats, offering delightful urban surprises.
Perched on a rocky promontory that dominates the surrounding lands, this city of Art and History is ranked in the 50 most beautiful cities in France. Its mediaeval, classic and Renaissance cultural heritage is incomparable. Orientation maps dot the city walls, and as you walk around the old city, you'll admire the surrounding landscapes.
Famous as a capital of art nouveau, Nancy has a rich historical heritage divided into 3 periods. The old town dates from Middle Ages, the Place Stanislas area built from 17th to 18th century and the Art Nouveau era in the early 20th century. Every December 6th, St Nicolas with Father Fouettard shares chocolates and gingerbread to the kids.
A small fortified city surrounded by the vineyards, it is full of beautiful half-timbered houses, decorated with old signs. Leaning against the mountain, the village is the pearl of the Alsatian vineyard, and an essential destination along the wine route. Spared by the 2 wars, it has a mediaeval heritage composed of 40 monuments classified as historical monuments.
Deeply marked by its painful historical past, the city permanently honors soldiers who died on the front. Verdun wants to be the world capital of peace and combines its tourist development with the duty of memory. Many visits to its historical sites are proposed all year long, although the urban cultural heritage should not be overlooked.
Which are the 12 unavoidable specialties of the Grand Est region?
As the new French regions have expanded, they have brought together all the flavors of terroirs under one sign, but each micro-region may have their own specialties. Our list is not exhaustive, but represents only some of the most renowned ones.
This small round plum, with its orange-yellow color, juicy and sweet flesh, is appreciated for its health benefits (fiber and vitamin E). It reaches maturity in July and August. Today, the region harvests more than 90% of the production in France and 75% of the world. The Mirabelles de Lorraine held PGI label since 1996. This distinction is due to its specific climate.
The quiche Lorraine
If the quiche Lorraine is usualy appreciated when served hot, accompanied by a small green salad, it can also be eaten cold as a snack or at a picnic. The famous quiche is a savory tart made with shortcrust pastry, smoked bacon, eggs, cream, milk, salt and pepper. In the 19th century it used to be made with cheese, eggs, milk, butter and cream.
The Troyes Andouillette is made in an artisanal way, this is a charcuterie containing big intestine and pork stomach to which are added some onions, of salt and of pepper. The andouillette can be eaten in several ways, on skewers, in a sauce, on a barbecue grill, in foil, or cold and sliced for an aperitif, or even with a fresh cream, mustard, white wine and shallots.
The champagne, indissociable from parties and events, enjoys a worldwide reputation. It is often imitated, but never equaled, and benefits from a D.O.C. that can be only produced in a defined area. The grape variety authorized for the production of champagne are: pinot noir, pinot meunier and chardonnay. The most important cellars and Champagne houses are located in Reims and Épernay.
The sauerkraut of Alsace is a high fiber and vitamin C product, which is consumed raw in a salad or cooked with various accompaniments, freshwater fish, poultry, meat and charcuterie. Made using thin strips of grated cabbage and salt, which undergoes a process of natural fermentation according to a precise set of specifications.
This is how is called the flamed pie in the form of a thin crusty bread dough, filled with fresh cream, bacon and onions. It was originally a kind of festive snack for the peasants. When they used to make the bread, the rest of the dough was filled with cottage cheese and bacon. It was baked in the same time with the bread in a very hot wood oven.
An age-old recipe dating back to the 17th century which made the reputation of the small Ardennes town of Rethel. The Red label and the IGP designation, testify to the quality of the Rethel speciality. The white boudin of Rethel is ma
de with no conservatives, traditionally manufactured from fresh pork meat, milk, whole eggs, shallots, salt and pepper.
Thanks to the geographical situation of the vineyards, 7 grape varieties have been developed: Riesling, Sylvaner, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Noir, Tokay Pinot Gris and Muscat d'Alsace. As for the beer, Schiltigheim hosts several great and famous brasseries. Since 1260, the Bas-Rhin region has been well known for its high quality beer, and this tradition is still alive today.
The traditional Alsacian potée is a mixture of three types of meat, beef, lamb and pork, simmered for a long time in Alsatian white wine with potatoes, vegetables and spices. They used to prepare the terrine the day before the laundry day, and leave it at the baker's in the morning, to pick it up at noon, hot and steaming, to serve the meal directly.
This dry ham has been in production since 1793 and was awarded a regional agricultural label in 1988 and a PGI in 2001. It is a natural cured ham, massaged and rubbed manually with a fine salt, before being dried, but it's not smoked. Its red color and fruity melon smell are what distinguish it from other hams and you can recognize the real Ardennes ham on the plate.
From June to November, it's the season for Munster-Géromé cheese awarded the PDO! Now let's go to discover this cheese with a double nationality made from fresh cow's milk of Vosges breed. This cheese is of monastic origin and was first made in the 14th century. Its notoriety is inevitably linked to the founders of the town of Munster.
Since Antiquity, Moselle has been a cradle for fine wines with fresh and floral aromas, which are very pleasant on the palate and benefit from D.O.C. The red wines are slightly tannic, and the rosé wines, made from Pinot Noir, are deliciously fruity. The white wines made from Pinot Gris and Auxerrois are also appreciated for their light and fine aromas. They are the most northern vineyards of France.