10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Nancy
Renowned for its 18th-century Baroque architecture, Nancy has a refined and aristocratic air. The UNESCO-listed Place Stanislaus exemplifies the elegance of the city with its monumental palaces and fountains. Other magnificent squares, exquisite churches, and impressive triumphal arches attest to the city's regal past. Nancy was the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine in the 12th century, and in the 18th century, was governed by Stanislas Leszczynàski, the deposed King of Poland, and his brother-in-law King Louis XV. It was Louis XV who drew many artists to his court, which gave the town its splendid Rococo aspect. Nancy's ancient history is best seen in the medieval Vieille Ville quarter, which is still a thriving (and trendy) neighborhood full of important landmarks. For an escape to nature after an overload of culture, explore the beautiful Pépinière Park, which has a rose garden, zoo, and aquarium.
1 Place Stanislas
With its magnificent 18th-century architecture, the Place Stanislas is one of the most striking squares in Europe. The square lies a little way north of the cathedral and was originally called the Place Royale. Place Stanislas, along with the adjoining squares, was mainly built by Emmanuel Héré between 1752 and 1760. The square is graced by five elegant palaces featuring opulent balconies and balustrades. The largest of the palaces is the Hôtel de Ville (Town Hall) with banisters by Jean Lamour on the staircase. The most characteristic feature of the square is the sumptuous gilded wrought-iron railings at the ends of the streets and around the Fountains of Neptune and Amphitrite. The railings are the work of Lamour and the fountains were created by Barthélemy Guibal. Along the north side of the square are lovely single-story galleried buildings, which continue along Rue Héré.
Accommodation: Where to Stay in Nancy
2 Palais Ducal (Musée Lorrain)
A short distance from the Palais du Gouvernement is the former Ducal Palace, which dates to the 16th century and is the most important secular building of the Late Gothic period in Lorraine. The building exemplifies the richly decorated Flamboyant style with its ornate balconies and doorway. The Ducal Palace now houses the Lorraine Museum, one of the top museums in Nancy. The extensive art and history collection includes archeological finds, medieval sculpture, and documents about the folk traditions of Lorraine. The Galerie des Cerfs displays relics of the Ducal period, medieval tapestries, and prints by Jacques de Bellange. Among the highlights are paintings by Georges de la Tour, including his renowned masterpiece La Femme à la Puce, and the etchings by Jacques Callot. The collection also features historic objects that show the artistic and cultural life of the region, from prehistoric through Gallo-Roman and Merovingian eras. There are beautiful medieval and Renaissance religious works, including an extensive collection of stained-glass windows and sculptures. One especially noteworthy work is Christ in the Garden of Olives.
Address: 64 Grande Rue, Nancy
3 Musée des Beaux-Arts
On the Place Stanislas, the Musée des Beaux-Arts was created in 1793 and brings together wonderful collections of European paintings from the 14th to the 21st centuries. The museum has an exceptional collection from the European School of Art, with masterpieces by Pérugin, Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Rubens, and Delacroix. Unique to this museum is the assortment of Lorraine artists: Claude le Lorrain, Emile Friant, Victor Pouvé, Etienne Cournault, and Jules Bastien Lepage. For a totally different perspective, the avant-garde Modern Art collection display works by Dufy, Utrillo, Modigliani, and Zadkine. The Sculpture Collection also dazzles visitors with pieces by Rodin, Maillol, César, and Dietman. One of the highlights of this museum is the Daum Collection of Art Deco glassworks. These decorative crystal pieces are appreciated for their aesthetic quality and historical value.
Address: 3 Place Stanislas, Nancy
4 Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy
The Musée de l'Ecole de Nancy is a one-of-a-kind museum housed in the Villa Majorelle, a spectacular Art Nouveau villa that was owned by Eugène Corbin (a leading patron of the arts). The museum is devoted to the group of artists who established the Art Nouveau movement in Lorraine around the beginning of the 20th century. The collection features splendid examples of Art Nouveau glass, furniture, and jewelry by Victor Prouvé, Emile Gallé, Antonin Daum, Louis Majorelle, and Eugène Vallin. This special collection attracts visitors from all over the world. The museum grounds are also pleasant. On sunny days, visitors can appreciate the vibrant and flourishing plants that inspired Nancy's Art Nouveau artists.
Address: 36-38 Rue du Sergent Blandan, Nancy
5 Vieille Ville (Old Town)
The quaint Old Town of Nancy is focused on the Point Central, the intersection of the town's three main traffic arteries: Rue Saint-Dizier, Rue Saint-Georges, and Rue Saint-Jean. The city's 18th-century cathedral is on Rue Saint-Georges and is worth a visit to see its lovely Baroque interior. At the end of the street is the 17th-century Porte Saint-Georges. The narrow winding streets of the Vieille Ville have a special Old World charm that distinguishes the area from the orderly 18th-century Nouveau Ville (new town).
This medieval and Renaissance quarter offers its own delightful world of discoveries. On the Grande Rue lined with historic houses, tourists will come across the ancient Eglise des Cordeliers and the 14th-century Porte de la Craffe, a fortified town gate with a pair of immense round towers. The Porte de la Craffe was used as a prison until the French Revolution. The streets of the Vieille Ville may be steeped in history, but they have a compelling allure. This neighborhood is a favorite place for locals to live and socialize. The area has a bustling ambience and many attractions that enhance everyday life, such as the town market on Sundays, flea markets, small boutiques, trendy restaurants, and cafés with outdoor terraces.
6 Eglise des Cordeliers
In the heart of the Vieille Ville (Old Town) just beyond the Ducal Palace is the 15th-century Eglise des Cordeliers. The Church of the Cordeliers takes its name from the Franciscan Order that required monks to wear a cord around their waist. The Church was built for Duke René II after the Battle of Nancy and houses the tombs of the ducal house of Lorraine including Duke René II, his wife Philippa of Guelders, and the Cardinal de Vaudémont. The Dukes of the Baroque period are buried in the 17th-century Chapelle Ducale designed in a circular shape. This exquisite chapel, built by King Charles III, was inspired by the Medici Chapel in Florence.
Address: 64 & 66 Grande Rue, Nancy
7 Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance
Within easy walking distance of Place Stanislas, the Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance are both designated UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Arc de Triomphe (triumphal arch) in honor of King Louis XV leads into the Place de la Carrière. Another stunning square, the Place d'Alliance offers a gorgeous view of the Palais du Gouvernement (Government Palace). With their regal past and elegant architecture, these public squares give Nancy its distinguished aristocratic air. The uniformity of style and well-manicured green spaces add to the beauty.
8 Basilique Saint-Epvre
Another interesting site in the Vieille Ville, the Basilique Saint-Epvre is an impressive Gothic Revival church built in the 19th century. The ornately decorated interior features vibrant stained-glass windows and Bavarian wood paneling. Napoleon III, Emperor Franz-Joseph, Ludwig II of Bavaria, and Pope Pius endowed the church with its riches, including paving in the choir that came from the Appian Way, that ancient road that runs from Rome to Italy's Campania region. Artists from many other European countries contributed to the church's collection of paintings. The church, with its soaring 87-meter-high tower, stands on one of the busiest squares in Nancy. The Place Saint-Epvre features a majestic fountain with a statue of Duke Rene II. This square is also the location of a town market.
Address: Place Saint-Epvre, Nancy
9 Pépinière Park
Pepinère Park was created on the site of the historic Dukes' gardens and has strong ties to the city's heritage. The park is just a few steps away from Nancy's UNESCO-listed squares, the Place Stanislas and the Place de la Carrière. The English-style park features a Royal Nursery and Rose Garden. There's even a zoo and a tropical aquarium. Encompassing 23 hectares, Pépinière Park is the largest park in the city and is the perfect escape on a sunny day. Visitors will enjoy a walk under the shady trees, taking time to admire the flowers and the birds. Bring a baguette, cheese, and fruit for a typical French picnic in the fresh air.
10 Eglise Notre-Dame de Bon-Secours
This small but richly decorated church is a veritable jewel box. The lavish interior exemplifies the Baroque style. The church was used as a burial site after the Battle of Nancy and is also called the Church of Our Lady of Victory and the Kings. The church contains the tomb of Stanislas Leszczynàski and the mausoleum of his wife Catharina Opalinska.
Address: 149 Avenue du Général Leclerc, Nancy