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France is an important European country for over 1000 years. The symbols of Lithuania (in many cases those of the old Grand Duchy) that remain in France are witnesses that it was well traversed by Lithuanian nobility.

Various Nancy city buildings (among them the Palace of Dukes of Lorraine and the City Hall) bear crosses of Vytis.

Vytis is there as a part of the Polish-Lithuanian united coat of arms. The Palace of Dukes of Lorraine was once used by Stanisław Leszczyński (Lithuanian: Stanislovas Leščinskis), famous for being the King of Poland and Grand Duke of Lithuania. During his two brief reigns (1704-1709 and 1733-1736) this French- and Swedish- supported king had many enemies (Russians, Austrians) which forced him to abdicate.

In that era defeated noble statesmen used to get statelets to rule. Leszczyński received Duchy of Lorraine (established precisely for him) from the French. This country consisted of Nancy city and its hinterland. Leszczyński served as its duke until his death in 1766, after which the territory was returned to France (as had been planned initially). During his reign there Leszczyński put Polish and Lithuanian symbols in many localities of the Duchy's capital city Nancy. The UNESCO-inscribed central square is still named after him (Stanislau) and has his statue.

Statue of Grand Duke of Lithuania and King of Poland Stanislovas Leščinskis / Stanisław Leszczyński in the Nancy main square. Google Street View.

Back in the 19th century, the French Capital Paris was among world's largest cities (3rd-6th by population) whereas the then-recent Great French Revolution allowed a proliferation of anti-government ideas there. Among those that made use of such "revolutionary megalopolis" were Lithuanians who (together with Poles) sought independence from the Russian Empire.

Some traces of the era are still left in Paris. There is Our Lady of Vilnius painting in St. Severin church (Latin district), put there by Andrius Tovianskis (Polish: Andrzej Towiański), a messianist religious leader. Tovianskis (and many other Lithuanians) fled to Paris from Russian Imperial repressions that followed the failed 1831 Polish-Lithuanian uprising. Those mutineers were mostly Lithuanian nobility which at the time used primarily Polish language for public speeches and publications. However the (Cross of) Vytis, Lithuania and Vilnius were equally dear to all Lithuanians, irrespective of the primary tongue used.

In the church of Parisian suburb of Montmorecy, another such refugee/expellee Adomas Čartoryskis (Adam Czartoryski) put a Vytis with Columns of Gediminas symbol and a Ducal crown.

The most famous refugee writer Adomas Mickevičius (Adam Mickiewicz) did not leave anything material in Paris. However, his literary works (such as the famous quote "Fatherland Lithuania, thee are dearer than health") inspired the future generations to erect something that would remind him. In 1929 the newly independent Poland gifted France a Mickiewicz monument (which now stands east of Place de l'Alma, also covered with the images from his literary Works). In the French-Polish library, a small Mickiewicz museum is available.

Statue of Adomas Mickevičius / Adam Mickiewicz in Central Paris

Statue of Adomas Mickevičius / Adam Mickiewicz in Central Paris

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  1. Labas
    My niece is getting married in France near Paris
    Her future husband was born in Lyon France
    and as a wedding gift I thought it would be grand to showcase a traditional
    Lithuanian Wedding cake at her wedding.
    Does anyone out there know of a Lithuanian bakery in Paris
    or some one who can bake a traditional RAGUOLIS OR POLEIONUS.
    Much appreciate your help.
    Regina – Canada
    Aciu labai.

  2. I am actually thankful to the owner of this website who has shared this impressive article at at this time.

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