Tame the molten glass at Meisenthal
After wandering for a long time, glassmakers settled in Meisenthal, the chickadee valley, in 1704. There they invented the Christmas bulb in 1858. While the on-site Glass Museum will be freshened up in 2020, the glassblowers of the International Glass Art Center will continue making delicate objects out of molten glass, such as the "Vase Fleur" by designer Françoise Minot. They follow the free-blowing technique, i.e. without using a mold, gently spreading the petals one by one before they set: it's a real race against the clock.
The Meisenthal glassworks site
Take full view at the Saint-Louis Crystal Museum
A high pink sandstone bell tower overlooks the imposing Cristallerie Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, built by the royal manufactury in 1767. The crystal adventure in continental Europe began there, in 1781. Inside the Great Room, the Saint-Louis Crystal Museum has 2,000 exceptional pieces on display, including opalines, paperweights, ewers and planters. Following all the twists and transformations of this high-quality glass, you can go up a gentle slope until the final unveiling: a balcony that opens onto the activity of glassmakers.
La Grand Place - The Saint-Louis Crystal Museum
Unlock the secrets of crystal at Cristallerie Saint-Louis
Mouth-blown, hand-cut crystal characterizes both the iconic thistle glass and the Versailles vase. A gallery overlooking the Great Room allows the visitor to witness the transformation of the material: incandescent balls are picked up at over 1,300 °C at the end of a cane, mouth blown, cut, shaped in molds, heated, and recut over and over again... When the ball weighs 30 kg (66 pounds), the weight of the Versailles vase, and must be shaped in minutes, it is a major challenge.
Then come the cold work, the size, the engraving, the gilding, so many steps performed under the merciless eye of the choosers. Cristallerie Saint-Louis is the only one in the world that every day, by reservation at the museum, allows visitors to learn its craft secrets.
Be dazzled at the Lalique Museum
The walk begins in a dark room illuminated by a three-meter (10-feet) "pine-cone"-shaped chandelier: René Lalique has created both monumental fountains and tiny brooches from glass. The jeweler and master glassmaker was 61 when he moved to Wingen-sur-Moder.
Slipped into the former hall of his Glassworks, the beautiful architecture of the Lalique Museum opens onto a green hill. Admire the largest collection of Lalique perfume bottles in the world, and explore the touchscreen table, the satin-soft silhouettes of Bacchantes vases. Every year at Christmas, the Happy Cristal event visitors' eyes shine.
Come visit a glassmaker in the castle of Hochberg
In front of the Lalique Museum, in Wingen-sur-Moder, the Napoleon III pink sandstone facade of the castle of Hochberg, former residence of the glassware masters, hides a refined interior: a cascade of pendants at the bar, bouquets in Lalique vases, Lalique medallions of dahlias, or swallows built in the mirrors of its 15 rooms. An extension made of sandstone and glass, designed by Mario Botta in the middle of the park, houses the restaurant. Here, swim between green and glass.