“Nanciacum”, “Not touched with impunity”, “Capitale de l’Est”
Here we are once again at the brink of a longer and far holiday destination. Aiming for Tanzania as end point, however, on a very odd way that can easily make anyone lost and confused or even tipsy from thinking of what and awkward and long way with so many flights, but hey! if you are wondering why, it’s very simple: a while ago it popped in holidaypirates an amazing error fare flights we could not resist temptation and so this is us, on the first leg of this trip, well, sort of.
OK, enough of mystery. The original flights were Luxembourg City to Munich, Munich to Muscat, Muscat to Zanzibar and back on the same route, opposite way. How we ended up in Nancy then? Well, we’ve already been to Luxembourg before, so we had to separately book the London to Luxembourg return flights, allowing us an extra day and a half before connecting with the main flights, and planned in visiting the beautiful UNESCO listed city of Nancy taking advantage of this extra time. This was not actually the only great chance during this trip as I will be further explaining in the following guides, where our stop-over in Muscat was over 15 hours, all during the day and therefore another amazing city we could visit on the way. Crazy times, great trips! That’s the most exciting about travelling right?.
Coming to Nancy, it was in my agenda recently added as one of the destinations to visit in the near future during one of these weekend trips we usually fly abroad anywhere in Europe. And with all of the big and main cities already visited, and so the secondary ones, we are in the situation of having to research further and plan the trips to reach all these nice places you just simply cannot take a plane and land there. Most of the weekends this year have involved renting a car, otherwise this would have been impossible.
The city, 120 kilometres south from Luxembourg City is medium size, with a very compact historic city centre, therefore easy to visit giving you even plenty of time in a day. If your base is elsewhere like Paris or Luxembourg City for example, this is the perfect day trip then.
As it is for pretty much any city in France, expect to see very elegant avenues, tree-lined streets, grand architecture and especially the symmetrical urbanism so characteristic of the French cities’ 19th/20th century expansions. In Nancy’s case, this is older, from the middle of the 17th century when the exiled Polish king Stanislaus Leszczyński, father-in-law of the French king Louis XV was given the vacant duchy of Lorraine and made from the city an unparalleled renaissance in the Baroque style, most of which now listed by the UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.
All is said for this brief introduction to the city, however should you wish to read further information about Nancy, check Wikipedia and Wikitravel sites. France’s currency is the Euro (EUR). Please note that any price reference is true as from when this guide was created, therefore check prices in advance as with the time they change.
What to see and do in Nancy:
- Vile Vieille – The old Town Located towards the north of the city, it is the original medieval area, sandwiched in between the Cours Leopold and place Carnot along the entire western edge, and the grand Place de la Carriere and Place Stanislas along the eastern edge.
-Cours Leopold Along the entire western side of the old town, this large rectangular square is also one of the greenest areas in the city with its many trees.
-Porte Desilles The monumental gate at the northernmost side of the square was built in 1785 in ionic style.
-Grand Rue The main street running north to south through the old town passing most of the historic sights.
-Porte de la Craffe The northernmost entrance gate to the old town, built in 1336 when the city was fully walled.
-Cordeliers Church Built from 1482 after the arrival of the Franciscans, was once attached to the Ducal Palace just across the road. Nowadays it the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions.
-Ducal Palace Started in the 15th century and continued through to the 18th, it is one of the major sights in the city, not only for its architecture, but for being home to the Museum of the History of Lorraine.
-Place St-Epvre Heart of the old medieval town. By the southern side of the Ducal Palace towards the west, (to the east is Place de l’Hemicycle)
-Basilica St-Epvre Built in the 19th century in neo-Gothic style.
-Rue de La Fayette Parallel to Grand Rue and staring at Place St-Epvre, it becomes Rue Saint-Dizier as it continues south and through the new town.
-Place de l’Hemicycle – Place de la Carriere The eastern side of the old town is this elegant square with some of the finest buildings in Nancy, that links through to the masterpiece square Place Stanislas by the southern side, where the “new town” begins.
-Governor’s Palace Along the northern side of the square (Place de l’Hemicycle), built in the 18th century in neo-classical style.
-Arc de Triomphe At the southern side of the square, commonly known by the name of its architect, Arc Here. It provides the monumental access between both Place de la Carriere and Place Stanislas.
- New Town Right after the Place de la Carriere across the Arc de Triomphe, is the elegant 17th century enlargement of the city, legacy of the Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas.
-Place Stanislas The highlight in the city, the largest and most elegant and imposing square completely surrounded by neo-classical buildings. It was built in the 18th century by Stanislas, Duke of Lorraine and former King of Poland. This square, together with Place de la Carriere are the monuments listed by the UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.
-Stanislas Statue In the very centre of the square.
-Museum of Fine Arts Along the western side of the square.
-Opera National de Lorraine Along the eastern side of the square, facing the Museum of Fine Arts.
-Grand Hotel The next building after the opera, also in the same symmetrical style of all the facades that overlook the square.
-Grand Cafe Foy At the opposite side from the Grand Cafe.
-City Hall Marking the southern side of the square, one of the most impressive buildings in the city.
-Rue Stanislas One of the main througfare east to west in Nancy, crossing by the Place Stanislas. It contains some fine buildings such as the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a good example of art-nouveau style.
-Place d’Alliance Along the Rue Lyautey that you find by the southeast corner of Place Stanislas, it has a central fountain modeled after the one in Rome’s Piazza Navona.
-Notre Dame Cathedral A block south from the Place Stanislas along Rue Maurice Barres. Designed in 1700 by Giovanni Betto in classical style, in the Corinthian order, who took inspiration from the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle in Rome
-Rue Saint-Georges/Rue Saint-Jean One of the main streets cutting from east to west, full of shops and restaurants, and a great collection of art-nouveau buildings. The Cathedral is along this street.
-Crédit Lyonnais Headquarters Built by architect Félicien César in 1902. West from the Cathedral along the street, it has a great stained glass ceiling.
-Point Central Pharmacy At the corner of Saint-Jean with Saint-Dizier, a fine example of art-nouveau facade.
-L’ancienne Graineterie On Saint-Jean, by Henri Gutton (1901), an art-nouveau masterpiece with its metallic structure in the balconies.
-Place Maginof Towards the western end section of the street, very elegant with grand buildings surrounding its sides.
-Place Thiers At the westernmost edge of the old town. Walk along Rue Saint-Georges from the cathedral towards the west and you will be meters from it.
-Printemps Shopping Center One of the largest department store chains in France.
-Brasserie L’Excelsior At the other corner of the square from the Printemps, on the eastern side. Retains intact its art-nouveau interiors.
-Salle Poirell Built in 1889 it is one of the top concert and exhibition halls in the city, one of the most reputed. While not in the square itself, it is behind the Printemps building and aligning to the train station main facade.
-Railway Station Along the entire western side of the square, simple in architecture however with the recent revamp of the square it’s a great urban landscaping.
-La Villa Majorelle One of the finest art-nouveau buildings in Nancy. A collaboration of Henri Sauvage and Lucien Weissenburger (1902). Located west of the train station, along Avenue Foch, then Rue Louis Majorelle.
-Notre Dame de Bonsecours Church Farther from the urban core, to the southeast, on Avenue de Strasbourg which is the continuation of the main 134 Rue Saint-Dizier that cuts through the New Town north to south. It’s the final resting place of the last duke Stanislas.
- Saurupt District Characterised for the large amount of constructions in the art-nouveau style which makes this city one of the greatest in such architecture. It’s easy to walk there, from Place des Vosges near the train station along Avenue du Général Leclerc that heads west right into the district at its westernmost edge. Or tram to Jean Jaures.
-Villa Les Glycines The icon building in this style in the city, the finest example of the Nancy School. Rue des Brice, almost corner with Avenue du Général Leclerc.
-Villa Frühinsholz On Avenue du Général Leclerc, meters from Les Glycines. By Léon Cayotte (1910).
-Villa Marguerite On 3 Rue Colonel Renard, next to the previous 2 villas. By Joseph Hornecker and Henri Gutton (1904)
-Villa Lang By Lucien Weissenburger (1906). At the corner of Rue Colonel Renard with Avenue du Général Leclerc.
-Villa Masson In Rue Colonel Renard, near Marguerite. One of the first in this style built in the city.
-Villa des Colombes Next to Masson in the same street.
- Outside of the city There are too many villages, monasteries, palaces and castles, and beautiful nearby cities. Too many for such a short time, but among your possibilities on a same day trip to Nancy, Lunéville should be your number one in the agenda.
-Lunéville 35 kilometres southeast from Nancy, home to the baroque palace of King Stanislas, sometimes referred as the Versailles of Lorraine.
The city has a small regional airport, Metz-Nancy-Lorraine, 30 kilometres north of the city, however it’s not really an option due to the lack of destinations, none of which are European. The airport bus is scheduled upon arrivals and departures of the flights, and costs 8 Euros per way. A better option is to fly to Paris and take the train from there which is only around hour and a half.
Coming overland from France is straightforward either by railway or bus. Major destinations such a Paris and Strasbourg are only an hour and a half away, but there are also direct connections with Dijon, Lille, Bordeaux or Lyon but please take note the high-speed railway station is far from the city in the middle of nowhere, familiar situation with many cities in Spain due to the “political” wrong decisions. There is a direct normal train to Luxembourg City in just hour and a half, centre to centre. The national long distance bus network covers the entire of France and beyond to all neighboring countries.
Within the city distances are short through the historic centre and in between the sights. The best and probably only way to get around and enjoy all what the city has to offer is definitely on foot. Majority of the streets in the old core are pedestrian only. The city is quite small, yet hosts a tram line and plenty of buses covering every district and its metropolitan area. Tickets costs 1.50 Euros and are valid within 60 minutes after validation, so you can change from a bus to another of from tram to bus and vice-versa.
Since this was just a day trip from Luxembourg City, an extra day and a half we had altogether before continuing our journey to Muscat, Oman; I cannot recommend any place to stay in this city. The options and choice, however, is great from what we could see that’s for sure. Prices in the other hand, expect to be as usual when in France, especially in the northern regions, quite high, and during high season even more. A good and reasonable point to start your search is by checking some of our preferred affiliate hotel search engine such as Hotels.com, Booking.com, Expedia, Otel.com, Agoda, Opodo, Hotels Click, LateRooms or Ebookers.
For a complete travel guide of Luxembourg and the hotel we stayed this time, and also the previous time we came, click here.