A weekend in Nancy, France

A weekend in Nancy, France

by Jessica Zen
Stripes Europe

Nestled in northeastern France is a city that is dripping with gold-gilded everything. From the UNESCO Heritage Site city square to the imposing churches, this city has charm written all over it. Feel like a royal as you stroll through the streets that feature various beautiful architectural styles. Dine on signature French dishes or sip coffee at a local cafe. Two days is all you need to get a feel for this fabulous city! 

The centerpiece of this delightful city is Place Stanislas. The large square is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is home to the City Hall, Opera House, Fine Arts Museum and Triumphal Arch. The city gets its nickname, “city with golden gates,” from the gold-leaf covered gates that grace this picture-perfect square. Here you’ll also find a statue of Stanislas that weighs a whopping 5.4 tons! Don’t miss taking pictures of the beautiful fountains, Neptune and Amphitrite. They are backed by stunning Rococo-style porticoes and couldn’t be more elaborate. 

Before you leave the square, visit the Fine Arts Museum. It is one of the oldest museums in France and will take you on a trip through the history of European art. There are galleries dedicated to metal worker Jean Prouvé and the glasswork included in the Daum Collection. Since 1936, the museum has been located in a pavilion designed by Emmanual Héré. It was originally built in the 18th century and features a classical exterior. The building itself is a work of art!

Once you’ve had your fill of the square, leave via the Arc Héré (triumphal arch). You’ll feel like a royal strolling under this magnificent set of arches. Though it’s no Arc de Triomphe (Paris), it is quite stunning. It is reminiscent of the arches built by Romans and connects Place Stanislas and Place de la Carrière. Place Stanislas is beautiful during the day, but be sure to swing back at night to see everything lit up. 

Villa Majorelle is not to be missed on a trip to Nancy. This building was the home of furniture designer Louis Majorelle and is considered an influential example of the Art Nouveau movement in France. Both the interior and exterior have recently been renovated. Stop for a tour or just to admire the outside. 

The villa is part of the Musée de l’École de Nancy, which is also in a former home that once belonged to Eugene Corbin. It showcases furniture, ceramics and glassware from the Art Nouveau movement in the area. The movement was led by Émile Gallé, Victor Prouvé, Louis Majorelle, Antonin Daum and Eugène Vallin.

Each destination within Nancy is more elaborate than the next, and the Palace of the Dukes of Lorraine is no exception. Built at the beginning of the 16th century, this Renaissance and Gothic style residence is now a museum. Since 1850, the palace has housed collections of the region’s heritage. It is currently undergoing some serious renovations that should be completed by 2023. 

Every good city has a church (or five) and this one is no different. Église et Couvent des Cordeliers is a former Franciscan convent and is located next to the palace. This 15th-century church holds the limestone tombs of René II, Duke of Lorraine from 1473 to 1508, and Philippa de Gueldre, his wife. Though significantly less flashy than the other sights, it is nonetheless an important piece of history. 

Another Roman Catholic building in the city is the Nancy Cathedral. This 18th-century structure was built in the Baroque style and is the seat of the Bishop of Nancy and Toul. Take note of the great organ that was built in 1756 by Nicholas Dupont. It is the largest organ Dupont built and encompasses a 16-foot case! 

For some outdoor fun, head to Parc de la Pépinière in the center of the city. Here you’ll find mini-golf, a playground, and a small zoo. The zoo includes goats, donkeys and various birds. Stop at the beautiful Mozart bandstand, built in 1875, in the English garden area. In the summer the gardens are in full bloom, including around 2,000 rose bushes! 

All these amazing sights will surely work up an appetite. The good news is that you are in France and the local cuisine is known to be fantastic. Head down Rue des Maréchaux, also known as “Gourmet Street.” Though considered a bit touristy, you will certainly find food to satisfy your cravings here. Another option is the covered central market. Grab some fresh produce or sit down for lunch. You won’t be disappointed with the cheese, fish, soup and other various dishes available. Don’t miss visiting Maison des Sœurs Macarons for a decadent sweet treat to finish off your day. The almond macarons are to die for and the chocolates are hand-made on-site weekly. 

Nancy has so much amazing architecture for you to view that you won’t want to leave this beautiful place! Learn about the city’s history in relation to the Art Nouveau movement and munch on delicious macaroons. There’s no better way to spend the weekend!

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