The Mole Diaries: Raon L'Etape, Lorraine

Quiche Lorraine by Marylise Doctrinal

This article was written by Emily Dowse, published on 29th March 2011 and has been read 19740 times.

Emily is a third year student of French and TESOL, currently working as an English Language Assistant in two primary schools in the Lorraine region of France. Although the ‘Académie Nancy-Metz’ was not her first choice, she is having a great time and would definitely recommend taking a year abroad in this region. Read on to find out more...

Finding accommodation

I was lucky enough to be provided with free accommodation from the Town Hall in the town I am working in. If you’re placed in a city or large town, I think this is less likely to happen. The closest city to me is Nancy and I know a few people there are staying in a foyer, this works out around €70 per month if you take advantage of the CAF. It’s definitely worth finding out about the CAF as it could save you quite a bit of money! If, like me, you are placed in a smaller town, it is worth asking your ‘responsable' or the Town Hall to see if they have anywhere for you to stay, or if they can help you in finding somewhere.

What to pack

Again, I was lucky enough to have my Dad bring me out here, so I wasn’t as limited in what I could bring as I would have been, had I taken a plane. I would recommend checking what the average temperatures are in the town you are staying in before you come. For me, I needed to bring lots of jumpers and fleeces; good fleecy pajamas are a must too! Aside from clothes, I’d recommend an external hard drive just in case anything should happen to your laptop, teabags as they just aren’t the same as the ones out here, photos of your friends and family to stick on your wall and a diary as you’ll be given a huge amount of information when you first arrive!

Student cards

I bought the NUS and International Students’ card before I came out which cost me around £12 and is definitely worth it. Another card I’d recommend is the ‘carte 12-25’. This will cost you €49 but it will save you up to 60% off rail travel if you book three weeks or more in advance, and if you book after that, you can save around 25%. It definitely makes getting around the region and the country much easier and cheaper.

Useful websites

Third Year Abroad
British Council
CIEP

Must see places

As I am in the Lorraine region of France, here are some of my favourite places from around this area. Firstly, I have to say Nancy. It is a beautiful place and the Place Stanislas is amazing, especially at night. There is a park located just off this square that has a small zoo in the middle of it; a great place to pass the time. I also have to tell you about the kiosk just outside the park which sells crêpes…the Nutella one is to die for! In terms of places to eat, Nancy has plenty! We asked at the Tourist Office for advice on good places to eat, they gave us a booklet with town restaurants and also offered their own suggestions. The staff in the Tourist Office are very friendly and helpful. A couple of my own suggestions for places to eat in Nancy are the Brasserie Vaudémont and La Bella Vista, and then to the Café des Artistes for a nice cocktail afterwards!

Colmar is a lovely town in the Alsace region with a lot of German influence. If you can, visit ‘Little Venice’ there, it’s a very pretty part of the town and you can buy a ‘Bretzel’ from the indoor market!

Ribeauville is another very pretty little town in the Alsace region with a windy street leading up towards a castle. The smell of freshly baked macaroons and other baked goods will ensure you don’t leave the town empty handed or with an empty stomach!

Strasbourg is a definite must see city. I've been to the Christmas market there in December, and I definitely recommend it.

St. Dié is the closest ‘big’ town to me and it is where they have the International Festival of Geography each year in October. They invite a country each year and there is a whole host of activities and shows available during this time.

Getting around town

Seeing as you can get around this town in about 5 minutes, you don’t have to rely on anything other than yourself to get around here. Possibly the best thing about this town is its reliable rail links. You can get to St Dié in 10 minutes from here, and Nancy in just under an hour. From Nancy you can get the TGV to Paris (2 hours), Strasbourg in  an hour and 30 minutes, and a whole host of other destinations.

Top ten things to do in the Lorraine region

1. Eat a Quiche Lorraine. The ones at home just wont compare afterwards.
2. At Christmas time, go and see La Fête de la Saint Nicolas. The one in Nancy is quite a big one and it’s definitely worth experiencing.
3. Visit a local market. I have received free cheese, eggs, sweets and more just for being English and speaking French, they seem to love that you want to learn their language.
4. Visit Nancy, it’s a beautiful city. There you can find the Place Stanislas, le Parc de la Pépinière and the Cathedral, definitely worth a visit.
5. Spend a day at the ‘Thermapolis’ spa in Amnéville. As a student, it costs around €10 for two hours and you feel relaxed and rejuvenated after it!
6. Visit the Centre Pompidou in Metz. If you are under 26, entry is free.
7. If here in October, go to the FIG (Festival International de Géographie) in St. Dié.
8. The Vosges are great for skiing, although I am not currently allowed to ski, I have heard from friends that the ‘pistes’ around here are great, Gerardmer has been recommended a few times and the tariffs are reasonable.
9. In this part of France, you aren’t far away at all from Luxembourg, Germany, Belgium and Switzerland, so travel, travel, travel! Not to mention the rest of France! After all, you may not get the chance to do so in a few years’ time!
10. Enjoy yourself! It’s a lovely part of France and I also found the accent to be very clear and easy to understand, so your French should be near perfect in no time!

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