Epinal was founded about 980 by the Bishops of Metz because of its strategic location--a crossroads of many routes along the Moselle River. Epinal soon became a center of political, economic and cultural activity--a reputation which continues today. Epinal has been French only since 1766; it lies on the Moselle River at the foot of the Vosges Mountains next to the border between France and Germany, and this area of Alsace-Lorraine became a valuable prize in the early European Wars. In spite of, or maybe because of, mass bombings in 1940 and 1944, for the past 20 years Epinal has been developing intense industrial and commercial activity, and today is a center for economic decision-making. Epinal's Mayor, Michel Heinrich, is a member of the French Parliament, Vice-President of the National Assembly and the Minister of Employment and Social Matters. Population -- 40,954
Business and Industry
Within Epinal there are more than 70 companies with 10 employees or more, employing a total of 8,000 people. The area's industries are very diversified, with most of the industrial sectors represented. Companies which have facilities in Epinal include the Trane Company, Garrett and Playtex (U.S.A.) Woco (West Germany) and Michelin (France). Epinal also serves as the center of the forestry industry, and each year holds an International Wood Fair. Epinal is served by three banks, three credit unions and two savings and loans.
Luxembourg, Belgium, Switzerland and Germany are now within easy driving reach with the completion of the motor-way road system. Epinal is also served by a modern railway, which is utilized by approximately 3,000 tons of goods per year. Epinal-Mirecourt Airport has flights to 32 French cities and daily flights to Paris.
Epinal has 21 nursery schools with 1,950 pupils; 24 primary schools with 2,820 pupils; 4 junior high schools with 3,400 pupils; 4 senior high schools with 2,800 pupils; 4 technical schools with 1,700 pupils and 900 students enrolled in higher education.
Hospital Capacity of 712 beds.
Sports and Recreation
Sport and leisure facilities include 17 tennis courts, a golf course, a covered ice-skating rink (Olympic standard), two swimming pools, local sailing and flying clubs, horseback riding facilities, a cross-country track, and one of the most attractive shooting ranges in the region. There are also nine gymnasiums, 11 stadiums, an international sports centre incorporating a football pitch and an athletic track.
The best known aspect of Epinal's cultural and artistic history is its "images"--bright, hand-painted cartoons, and representations from the past. Epinal is the home of the International Museum "Imagerie," and each year hosts the "Festival International d' l'Image". Epinal's cultural life also boasts numerous top-level concerts and shows, including an international piano competition, the Music Festival and part of the Nancy Jazz Pulsations Festival. Epinal has a professional theatre company which is supported financially by the Ministry of Culture and by the Lorraine local government. More than five percent of the town's budget is devoted to cultural activities, reflecting the town's keenness to attract audiences not only from the immediate vicinity, but also from further away. On the Wednesday before Easter, Epinal has a festival marking the end of winter: La Courume des Champs-Golots, during which children sail boats that are lit up and put in the canals and pools in the city.