Nancy, who doesn’t know this city by name or hasn’t driven past? Direction route du soleil, travelling towards a sunlit Côte d’Azur or to the Alps during the winter season? But who has actually visited this wonderful city?
Where many drive past I stop. Not because I want to explore the city. I know this city like no other. I have spend my studyyears here and I want to hold the splendor and charm of this place in my arms again.
We all know Paris, Lille, Lyon, Bordeaux. These are gems of cities but Nancy also has so much to offer. For a short stop, a day trip or a weekend you’re at the right place in Nancy! But what makes it so suitable?
The city of the wonderful Place Stanislas
Place Stanislas also called “Place Stan” is the eye catcher of the city and is known worldwide as one of the most beautiful squares in Europe. It is therefore not surprising that this beautiful square is on the world heritage list of UNESCO and the pride of the locals. Together with the adjoining Place de la Carrière and Place de l’Alliance it forms an exceptional architectural whole.
A little bit of history. Until the 17th century, the old town and the new town of Nancy were still separated by an esplanade. This changed when Stanislas Leszczynski, former King of Poland and then Duke of Lorraine, had a great idea. He gave the order to design and build a new square in honor of King Louis XV, his son in law. I can tell you that this goal has been more than achieved. Spatial, artistic, graceful, romantic and to fall in love with. This is how I would characterise this square. The town hall occupies the entire south side of the square, on the other side stands a huge arc. The square is decorated with beautiful forged fences with many gold ornaments in each corner and looks very royal. The fountains in the north-east and north-west corner make the picture complete. In the middle of the square there is a statue of Stanislas Leszczyński.
Place Stanislas is the heart of Nancy. Here you will find countless pubs and restaurants and this is where the majority of the nightlife takes place. Prices here are on average slightly higher. To be honest I was never shocked by the prices. Of course it depends on where you go. I enjoy my daytime here in a typical brasserie with a delicious chocolat chaud and pear tart, cosily under the heat lamps with a nice view of the square. In the summer many terraces will occupy the square where you can fully enjoy a drink or a meal.
I can only say that this square is a masterpiece. Even though I’ve already been here many times, it’s still breathtaking. At night you definitely have to come back here, when the square bathes in brilliant lighting.
The city of Art Nouveau
Various places in Nancy will remind you of this architectural style, but the place that meets most expectations in my opinion is the famous Brasserie l’Excelsior. Located opposite the railway station, this historic building still has its original details. Inside there is a huge hall where you can breathe the traditional atmosphere. Waiters who still walk around with a neat white blouse, old wooden furniture, chandeliers and large mirrors make it such an authentic place. This brasserie is perfect for a delicious French breakfast. You can also enjoy French haute cuisine at lunch or dinner. A must go if you visit this city!
Parc de la Pépinière: a green oasis in the city centre
This parc is an extension of Place Stanislas and is not just a park. Laid out on the former ducal gardens, you can imagine that this is a graceful park where everyone can enjoy peace and tranquility surrounded by a green oasis. It is a central place where everyone can meet, a paradise for runners, walkers, families, students and actuallly all residents of Nancy. Magnificent trees, graceful landscaped gardens, cozy benches, a traditional bandstand. Who wouldn’t like this? The park also boasts a nature reserve. You can spot various animals here and there is also a mini zoo, suitable for both young and old. Peacocks spreading their feathers, ducks, deer, monkeys. It’s always fun to watch!
The old city and the new city
Small narrow streets and squares, cobblestone streets, typical boutiques and shops characterize the old city. The circular Place Saint Epvre with its Basilica is beautiful and surrounded by several bars and restaurants. The old town is very pleasant and it’s wonderful to stroll through the streets. Behind the Place Stanislas you will find the “Rue Gourmande”. Gourmand is equal to loving and enjoying good food. This street is filled with wonderful restaurants. The typical French cuisine, Italian or rather an exotic restaurant? You’ll find it all here.
The new town has plenty to offer. The long road starting from the station and meeting the other side of town is mainly car-free. Furthermore, you can enjoy the side streets with their lovely shops and the indoor market is also worth a visit.
Art and culture
No need to say that just walking around Nancy will make art and culture lovers happy. For those who need more there are many other ways to quench your thirst for knowledge. Examples include a visit to the Musée Lorrain located in the old town, the aquarium of Nancy, the Musée des Beaux Arts or the botanical gardens.
Nancy is a multifaceted city that certainly deserves to be visited more. For a quick stop or for a weekend, there is something to do for everyone and you can easily enjoy the city for two days.
Have you ever taken the exit Nancy or would you like to do so?