Five Good Reasons to Visit Nancy, France

1. UNESCO Town Square

Our day out in Nancy began on a high as we just wondered in the world famous UNESCO Town Square.

Place Stanislas is 125 metre long and 106 metre wide.

The beautiful square is surrounded by an architecturally harmonious ensemble of buildings, most notably:

  • The City Hall (Hôtel de Ville) of Nancy, which occupies the entire south side of the square, with the prefectural office of Meurthe-et-Moselle at the south-east corner;
  • To the east, the Opera house (formerly the Bishop’s Palace) and the Grand Hôtel (originally the Hôtel de la Reine, actually occupied by the Intendant Alliot);
  • To the west, the Fine Arts Museum (originally the Collège de médecine) and the Pavillon Jacquet (originally a commercial/residential building, now mostly offices).
  • On the north side, the buildings were kept lower for defensive purposes (to permit crossfire between the Vaudemont and the Haussonville bastions).

We had never even heard of Nancy but we were heading down to Switzerland & Italy for our bucket list tour of Grindenwald and Cinque Terre, and Nancy was a perfect place to begin – actually its UNESCO epicness now gives it its own outright bucket list credibility of somewhere you HAVE to visit!

History of Place Stanislas

After the War of the Polish Succession in 1737, the Duchy of Upper Lorraine, of which Nancy was the capital, was given to Stanisław I Leszczyński, former Ruler of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and father-in-law to King Louis XV of France.

An earlier ruler, Leopold, Duke of Lorraine, had undertaken much reconstruction in Lorraine, which had been ravaged by a series of wars.

He had recruited numerous artists and architects for this work, including Germain Boffrand, who trained Emmanuel Héré.

Hence, Stanisław found a pool of talent and experience to draw from on his arrival.

The square was a major project in urban planning, conceived by Stanisław I as a way to link the medieval old town of Nancy and the “new” town built in the 17th century under Charles III, Duke of Lorraine.

The square was also intended as a place royale to honour Stanisław’s son-in-law, Louis XV.

The design created a large urban square or place that linked two handsome existing buildings: the Hôtel de Ville and the Hôtel du Gouvernement, the seat of the duchy.

The seat of city government and the seat of Ducal government thus faced each other as complements through a series of rational, symmetrical but varied urban spaces, unequalled in Europe at the time.

The kids loved the bronze statue of Stanisław (Stanislas in French) and asked for their photo taking with him!

It has undergone several makeovers in its history and, in a low period of appreciation, served as a car parking area for nearly a quarter of a century, between 1958 and 1983.

The city has since reserved it for pedestrian use. In 2004 and 2005, the city undertook a massive restoration of the square, based on the original 18th-century plans. The ten-month project cost approximately 9 million euros.

Arc Héré & Rue Héré

We sat down for a coffee on and absorbed the beauty.  Chris still describes this as one of his most favorite moments.  Chilling for five minutes in such a stunningly beautiful place.  I must admit – I enjoyed it too!

2. Parque de la Pépinière

The parc is in the center of Nancy….very close to the Place Stanislas.  It is a beautiful serene park with a playground, a mini zoo and mini golf to entertain the kids (and the adults as well).

You can have a picnic under the big trees or eat at the restaurant.

A wonderful place to let the kids run wild….while you kick back and have lunch.  We had some out of this world pizza and salad.  Yum!

and a “petite bière” (be rude not to when on holiday!)

3. Cours Léopold Funfair – La Foire Attractive de Nancy – April

We absolutely loved our visit to La Foire Attractive.

It is one of the largest fairs held in Europe and has something for everyone.  And as the night draws in the lights are dazzling!

Its a festival of rides and delicious food.  From hog roast to candy floss.

You cant beat a big wheel.  We went on at sunset and that’s how I got my gorgeous photos of the town!

We all went on this.  I will admit I didn’t open my eyes.  I’m terrified of ghost trains.

Eva got some candy floss that was actually taller than her! (I did have to help her out with it….its me fave! Yum!)

We all truly loved it.  And all slept very well after a late night of excitement and treats!

4. Nancy Old Town, Vieille Ville & La Porte de la Craffe

The Porte de la Craffe or door of the Craffe is a medieval gate in Nancy taking you through to the old town.

Just look at it! Its sooooo beautiful and what a great entrance and introduction to the old town.

Built under Duke Jean I of Lorraine (1346-1390) in the middle of the 14th century , it consisted only of the central square tower.

The two round towers were added in 1493 and had ten strong rooms 1 which served as a prison until the mid- nineteenth century. These twin towers, crenelated at the beginning, received their characteristic pepper-pot roofs surmounted by lanterns in the 16th century.

When we went and walked through and it took us to this fantastic street market which sold literally everything.

After a long day checking out the town Teddy decided he needed a quick lie down on the streets of Nancy.

5. St Epvre Basilica

  • Duke Thierry II of Lorraine established the parish church in 1080 .
  • Between 1436 and 1451 , the building was entirely rebuilt in a Gothic style.  The bell tower also served as a guard tower since it was the highest point of the medieval city.
  • The church was demolished in 1863 , the bell tower that was to be integrated into the new church would only survive only a few years.
  • Prosper Morey , the architect appointed to rebuild the building, chooses a neo-Gothic style that allows a very good integration in the historic center of Nancy.
  • The first stone was laid in May 1864 while in 1865.
  • On November 26, 1874 , the church was elevated to the rank of minor basilica by Pope Pius IX.

So that is why it gets on our list – we adore a good church! And this one is just beautiful!  Go check it out! x

And that was what we saw of Nancy!

I am sure you will agree this place is beautiful and I thoroughly recommend you go see for yourselves!

 

Fran xxxxxx

 

About Frances Stoner 29 Articles
Mum of "The Traveling Family UK" - here there and everywhere - love life and living. I enjoy the odd (bucket of) wine and love trying new food. My kids drive me mad but keep me driven. My husband comes up with the ideas - I execute them - and him. Oh and my dogs....my babies forever! Love them!

2 Comments

  1. We fancy Nancy! But, we’ve never been. Looks lovely, and , well foto’d , Franban! Enjoy your trip south. (Try and call in on Sienna, one of our favourites. If you do, you have to call by San Gimingiano, one off the wonders of Italy.)

    • Thank you BC & BC!!! 🙂 I defo need to go explore Europe more! So much to check out! I will put your two suggestions on my list to see! Hope you are both good!!! xxx

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