Nancy in the Lorraine region
Lorraine is located in the north-east quarter of France, between Champagne and Alsace. It is a magnificent region of woodland, rolling plains and mountains, crossed by the river Moselle which flows from its source in the department of Vosges, through the departments of Meurthe and Meuse.
Lorraine was an independent duchy for many centuries, but was finally incorporated as part of France in 1766, although the historic borders do not exactly match those of the present-day Lorraine region. As a major north/south and east/west European crossroads, Lorraine has been the backdrop for numerous conflicts, but like all places that have acted as historic crossing points, it is also a region of exchange, openness and assimilation.
As the administrative capital, or prefecture, of Meurthe and Moselle, and the historic capital of the Dukes of Lorraine, the city of Nancy today has 105,000 inhabitants while the surrounding urban community, divided into a further 20 administrative communes is home to 250,000 and a services and working area which has 350,000 inhabitants.
Nancy is literally at the heart of the Lorraine region, 300 km from Paris (90 mins on the high-speed train) and 90 km (45 mins) from Strasbourg. Located equidistantly between Metz to the north and Epinal to the south, it is less than an hour from the lakes and forests of the Vosges massif, an hour from the lakes and recreation areas of Meuse, 45 mins from Center Parc, an hour from the city of Luxembourg to the north and Germany to the east.
The Marne au Rhin canal crosses the city – and the fully equipped “blue flag” Saint Georges port, 200 metres from Place Stanislas, welcomes more than 1,500 recreational boats a year.
The earliest signs of human settlement in the area date back to 800 BC. Early settlers were likely attracted by easily mined iron ore and a ford in the Meurthe River. A small fortified town named Nanciacum (Nancy) was built by Gerard, Duke of Lorraine around 1050. Nancy was burned in 1218 at the end of the War of Succession of Champagne, and conquered by Emperor Frederick II, then rebuilt in stone over the next few centuries as it grew in importance as the Capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy, was defeated and killed in the Battle of Nancy in 1477. With the death of the last Duke Stanislas in 1766, the duchy became a French province and Nancy remained its capital. As unrest surfaced within the French armed forces during the French Revolution, a full-scale mutiny took place in Nancy in later summer of 1790. A few reliable units laid siege to the town and shot or imprisoned the mutineers. In 1871, Nancy remained French when Prussia annexed Alsace-Lorraine. The flow of refugees reaching Nancy doubled its population in three decades. Artistic, academic, financial and industrial excellence flourished, establishing what is still the Capital of Lorraine's trademark to this day. Nancy was freed in September 1944, during the Lorraine Campaign of World War II.
Culture and heritage
Nancy’s two outstanding attractions (among many others) are firstly its influence by the movement Art Nouveau (l’Ecole de Nancy) and secondly, the majestic and quite breath-taking Place Stanislas, an outstanding inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. The cathedral of Nancy , the Triumphal Arch and the "Place de la Carrière" are fine examples of 18th century architecture.
The " École de Nancy ", a group of artists and architects founded by the glassmaster and furniture maker Émile Gallé , worked in the Art Nouveau style at the end of the 19th century and the early 20th century. It was principally their work which made Nancy a centre of art and architecture that rivaled Paris and helped give the city the nickname "Capitale de l'Est."The movement Art Nouveau is profoundly visible in Nancy. You will find it at the musée l ’Ecole de Nancy (School of Nancy Museum), a unique and original masterpiece, or in the districts of Saurupt or Nancy Thermal with their charming public park Saint Mary (Parc Sainte-Marie). Or perhaps you will stumble upon its presence in numerous commercial buildings between the station and the center city, in the quirky houses in the center city or in the Daum collection at the Fine Arts Museum (le musée des Beaux Arts) .
Famous Place Stanislas will never fail to impress you. Its striking beauty and lively ambiance gives an Italian air to the city, year round. Place Stanislas is named after the king of Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth and duke of Lorraine Stanisław Leszczyński . His tomb is in the crypt of the baroque church “Notre-Dame de Bon-Secours”. But Place Stan was not the only recipient of the UNESCO World Heritage label, The Place d’Alliance, which resembles a mini Place des Vosges in Paris and The Place de la Carrière also received the honour.
There are many other assets in Nancy including the historic Old City . There are terrific examples of Medieval and Renaissance architecture. Look around the Dukes Palace (palais ducal) which houses the Lorraine Museum (musée Lorrain) and the tombs of the Duke’s of Lorraine, you will discover an abundance of beautiful buildings, a lively and fun district with many boutique shops and delicious restaurants.
The New City (ville neuve), from the end of the 17th century, includes most of the main commercial area. You can find the Point Central and the Place Charles III, the Central Market, all the big brands, boutique shops and restaurants – and of course eating is a popular pass time here as well. The architecture Art Déco is also present, often next to its Art Nouveau counterparts from l’Ecole de Nancy.
A major botanical garden , the Jardin botanique du Montet , is located at Villers-lès-Nancy. Other gardens of interest include the city's earliest botanical garden, the Jardin Dominique Alexandre Godron , and various other public gardens and places of interest including the Pépinière and the Parc Sainte-Marie (public gardens), witnessing a rich tradition of horticulture.
In the Grand Nancy region, there are many lovely old villages who attest to the ancient traditions of wine in the area: Vandoeuvre, Villers, Ludres, Houdemont, Dommartemont… There are also some spectacular attractions such as the Chartreuse de Bosserville at Art sur Meurthe, the Château de Fléville or the Domaine de Montaigu at Jarville la Malgrange. Or you can find some magnificient religious edifaces, fountains and washrooms Visit the Douera, the extravagant Mozarab style mansion in Maxéville (complete with Arabian calligraphy), ancient oppidums like Saint Geneviève in Essey les Nancy or the banks and islands of the River Meurthe at Tomblaine…. Each town has its own treasure to discover, a place in history, a castle, gardens, stories, epicurean delights, panoramas to take your breath away or simply the large commercial districts for shopping and restocking, it is all available for discovery depending on your time and taste!