Départment des Vosges
The Vosges department was named after the Vosges mountain range, separating the Lorraine region from Alsace and Franche-Comté.
The Vosges department has a surface area of 3,874 km², a population of 380,000 inhabitants, and is divided into three administrative districts (arrondissements in French) for a total of 31 cantons and 515 municipalities.
It borders (clockwise from the North) the departments of the Meurthe-et-Moselle, the Bas-Rhin, the Haut-Rhin, the Territoire de Belfort, the Haute-Saône, the Haute-Marne, and the Meuse.
The Vosges department is well known for its rugged landscapes, its thermal springs and its mineral water. It is where the world-famous waters of Vittel and Contrexeville come from.
The Vosges department is also famous for Joan of Arc (1412-1431), who was born in the tiny village of Domrémy, now called "Domrémy-la-Pucelle", after Joan of Arc's nickname la pucelle d'Orléans ("the maid of Orléans). The house where she was born, as well as the church where she was baptised still exist and can be visited.
In ancient times, the Vosges were settled by two Celtic tribes: the Leuci and the Sequani. After Julius Caesar's conquest of the Gaul, it became part of the Roman Province of Gallia Belgica. The name "Vosges" comes from Vosegus, an ancient Gallo-Roman god.
In the 5th century, the region was invaded by the Alamanni, a Germanic tribe from the other side of the Rhine. Defeated by Clovis, King of the Franks, at the Battle o Tolbiac in 496, the Alamanni were incorporated to the Frankish Kingdom. After the Treaty of Verdun (843) splitting the Frankish Empire between Charlemagne's three grandsons, the region became part of Lotharingia, but was quickly absorbed by East Francia, which became the Holy Roman Empire.
Later on, most of the Vosges department was comprised within the Principality of Salm, based in what is now the village of Senones, which would opt to join France in 1793.
A small part of the Vosges (the canton of Schirmeck and half the canton of Saales) would become German in 1871, after France's defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. France would only recover this territory in 1919, as war reparations for WWI.