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Weekender: Gilded city of Nancy

When an opportunity presented itself for travel, I’m hardly one to refuse the chance to do so. I guess some of my go-go-go-travel attitude must have rubbed off Frédéric as he ambitiously planned for our trip to his cousin’s wedding to be flanked with day-trips to Nancy and Metz. I have friends who agreed that both cities are small enough to be visited as day-trips, and after visiting them, I am more of the opinion that they make good spots for weekend trips.

Place Stanislas

Arc Héré

A TGV ride between Paris and Nancy takes approximately 1.5 hours and our early start means we arrived in Nancy just shy of 10am, affording us a day of exploration given we were also staying overnight in the city before heading off to Grosbliederstroff the next morning. We were lucky to have arrived on a sunny morning for what was to be a forecasted-to-be-cloudy-and-wet weekend. The day did progressively get glummier, but not before we saw the splendour of Place Stanislas in the full sunshine.

I am no historian so I won’t go into the birth and the development of the city, even if we did see the free exhibition of La Ville Révélée at the Palais du Gouvernement (daily except Monday, until 31 August) which looks at these aspects in details. The exhibition is part of the programme of Renaissance Nancy 2013, which has an interesting agenda that makes me want to stay longer so I can check them out.

Hôtel de Ville

Gilded railings and gates

St Sébastien

St Léon IX

The city centre of Nancy is quite compact, easily explored on foot, and one of the first (and main) places visitors head to is Place Stanislas. The large square, enclosed by gilded iron gates and railings, is surrounded by magnificent buildings that house, among others, the Hôtel de Ville, the Opéra-Theâtre and the Musée des Beaux-Arts, as well a number of restaurants with terrace seatings. In its centre stands a statue of its namesake, Stanislaw Leszczynski, Duke of Lorraine, former King of Poland, and father-in-law to King Louis XV. A triumphal arch – Arc Héré – links the square to the adjoining Place de la Carrière. Together with Place de l’Alliance, these three squares form an Unesco Heritage Site.

The tourist information centre at Place Stanislas is a handy stop for any day-tripper or weekender. The helpful staff provided us with a free city map with marked walking routes, peppered with numbers to indicate monuments and sites of interest. A major plus point is the French-English bilingual descriptions on this aptly named Explorers’ Map, making it foreigner-friendly and certainly winning bonus tourism points. Other cities that aim to promote tourism can take a leaf out of the book of Nancy Tourisme.

Church interior

Palais Ducal


Porte de la Craffe

We went on the 3-hour blue walking route although we didn’t strictly adhere to it, given our penchance to be distracted by little things on the side streets and therefore ended up with a number of small detours. Nonetheless, we managed to pack in quite a number of landmarks and sights, including Le Palais Ducal that now functions as Musée Lorrain, Place Saint-Epvre and the adjacent basilica, La Porte de la Craffe which was an old city fortification and former prison, Parc de la Pépinière that leads to Canal de la Marne au Rhin, and a good few hôtel particulier.

Given Nancy was once the centre of the Art Nouveau movement in France, it is unsurprising to see the marks left in the city, where buildings around town can be spotted with the distinctive style that embraced nature in forms and structures, adorned with elegant curves aplenty. My main regret however is not having enough time to see more fine examples of works at the Musée de l’École de Nancy and the Musée des Beaux-Arts. I suppose this can only mean I’m meant to go back to Nancy for another visit in the near future. ;)

Basilique St Epvre

Temple and Art Nouveau



On the eating front, we fell a little short for this trip. It is rather unlike me to not have done at least some food-related research before the trip but that was what happen. I guess with Frédéric organising pretty much the main logistics – trains and hotels – it felt like I didn’t have anything to look into. As a result, we had a simple yet hearty (read: the slice of the size bigger than my palm!) lunch of boulangerie-bought quiche lorraine and mirabelle tart, both specialties of the region; and failure to get a table at Le V-Four somehow sent us into the arms of a very mediocre bio restaurant on rue de Maréchaux (the trouble about getting hungry way too early in the evening is that we couldn’t see which restaurants are among the local favourites since they were all near-empty at that time). Better luck next time.

We stayed at the Hotel Ibis Nancy Centre Gare et Congres, next to the train station, to facilitate our early departure the next morning. Upon check-in, we were given breakfast vouchers so we naively thought breakfast was included with our room rate. It ruined my morning when we were charged €18 for the small amount that we ate. I was particularly annoyed that we were handed over the vouchers without being told that it would incur an additional charge. The front desk staff cheerfully (yes, cheerfully) apologised but gave us the impression that it wasn’t even the first time that had occur to guests in the hotel. Seriously NOT impressed. To date, I have yet to receive a response from the hotel about my dissatisfaction.

Mirabelle tart


Floral clock

Place de la Carrière

The breakfast incident notwithstanding, I had a lovely time and mostly positive things to say about Nancy. It is a bustling and compact city but without the feeling of being overcrowded. The people we interacted with throughout the weekend were friendly and courteous. If only I had done my homework on the food scene and have a little more time to check out the museums as well… Who wants to go to Nancy with me next time round?

Nancy: full photoset on Flickr

Category: 101 Goals, France

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4 scribbles & notes

  1. Beejay says:

    lol … the weather is so damn nice yeah :P (everywhere in euro look the same lol hahaha)

    • Lil says:

      It was really nice and sunny in the morning but as the day progressed it got more cloudy and chilly as well. Luckily no rain that day though ;)

  2. med says:

    hmmmm…sinister breakfast robbery scheme ;)

    oooooo…love those two shots on the stained glasses especially the “let there be light” 2 thumbs up!

    • Lil says:

      It did feel sinister! Oh well… it definitely has put us off booking into another of their hotel anytime soon.

      Thanks, glad you like them ;)

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