Mirecourt, 34 km from Épinal and 23 km from Vittel, is home to the greatest museum of stringed instrument-making. Indeed, Mirecourt is a major centre for this trade and the birthplace of world bow-making: nearly sixty stringed instrument and bow-making companies have helped to build up this reputation over three centuries.
A luthier to the Dukes of Lorraine, trained in Italy, is thought to have taught his art to the townspeople. The instruments were made from conifer wood from the Vosges forests, then from spruce wood from the Tyrol and the Swiss Jura.
In the 1920s, Mirecourt had around 600 luthiers! With the creation of the National Violin-making School in 1970, which trains apprentice luthiers in three years, Mirecourt recovered from the musical crisis of the 1930s, which had seen luthier numbers fall sharply.
Excellent instruments can still be found there today, first and foremost the bowed stringed instruments used in string quartets, the speciality of the town. Local businesses have also diversified to include other instruments, like guitars, mandolins and traditional instruments.