Meurthe-et-Moselle, Grand Est
Stepping through the gates of this little Versailles in Lorraine, a vibrant green space
in the centre of the town, prepares visitors for strong emotions. They will be swept into
the masterpiece of 18th century architecture, where European courts would rush to. “Going from Versailles to Lunéville barely felt as though we had gone from one place to another.” said Voltaire. © Vincent Damarin
Lunéville castle was rebuilt in 1701 at the request of Leopold I, Duke of Lorraine, by Germain Boffrand, the Palais du Luxembourg architect. From the start, he wanted to enhance the modest flower bed that was already east of the castle, asking Yves des Hours, his “garden, park, and water fountain director” to create splendid formal gardens with magnificent perspectives in the spirit of Le Nôtre’s gardens in Versailles. Nicknamed the “little Versailles of Lorraine,” the resemblance with its inspiration is striking. But Lunéville is home to another treasure, rhum babas. The famous French pastry classic was created in Lunéville in the 18th century to satisfy Stanislas Leszczynski’s sweet tooth, former king of Poland, Duke of Lorraine, and father to Marie Leszczynska, Queen of France. According to history, King Stanislas, finding the local “kugelhupf” cake a bit dry, soaked it in wine to soften it. He is said to have named it a “baba” as a nod to Polish grandmothers.