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Running in Nancy: capital of the Dukes of Lorraine

Updated: Jul 13, 2022

Located between the Haye forest and the Meurthe river, Nancy is an amazing city. Mixing Classical, Renaissance, Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, the city surprises by its diversity and abounds in remarkable sites. From the Place Stanislas, an architectural jewel classified as a Unesco World Heritage Site, to the Pépinière park, a green paradise in the heart of the city, Nancy will delight all lovers of urban escapades. Discover the city of the Dukes of Lorraine with the JOOKS application!

View of the cathedral from the Stanislas square

Fortified city, founded at the beginning of the 11th century, Nancy is successively capital of the duchy of Lorraine and then attached to France. Today, it owes its fame to its numerous historical monuments, in particular its three squares classified as World Heritage by UNESCO, the most famous of which is Place Stanislas.

Beyond its rich historical heritage, Nancy is also a dynamic, festive and welcoming city. Its leisure and entertainment activities as well as the concentration of universities and colleges make it one of the main student cities in France. Cultural events such as Saint-Nicolas bring families together and attract a large number of tourists from all over the world.

Historic heart

The historic heart of Nancy is made up of the Old City, whose construction began in the 12th century, and the New City, whose neighborhoods were built during the reign of Duke Charles III of Lorraine, beginning in the 16th century. The Ville-Vieille contains vestiges of the early Middle Ages, notably the fortifications that surrounded the medieval city. Don't miss the imposing Porte de la Craffe, built in the 14th century, a testimony of te city walls before Vauban.

In the center of the Old City is also one of its oldest squares: the Place Saint-Epvre. Formerly a market square, it owes its name to the basilica that adjoins it. If the actual basilica only dates from the 19th century, the square was created in 1495 by Duke René II, whose statue is enthroned at the top of the central fountain. For the more curious, do not hesitate to push the doors of the basilica to discover the sublime stained glasses.

The Saint-Epvre square and its fountain

The historic center of Nancy is also home to many Renaissance and Classical style mansions built by the noble families of the court of the Dukes of Lorraine. One of the most remarkable is undoubtedly the Hôtel d'Haussonville, transformed today into a 4-star hotel, whose courtyard layout elegantly contrasts with the rich decoration of the clerestory galleries. This ensemble has been classified as a historical monument since 1982.

Capital of the Duchy of Lorraine

Place Stanislas

From its foundation in the middle of the 10th century to its attachment to France in 1766, the Duchy of Lorraine has known no less than forty dukes. The most famous is certainly the last one, Stanislas Leszczyński, who gave his name to the famous square. A must-see place in the city of Nancy, Stanislas Square is part of a complex grouping together the major institutions of the duchy and uniting the Ville-Vieille and the Ville-Neuve. Your stroll to discover the essentials of the city will allow you to cross this site classified as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 1983.

In addition to the Place Stanislas, Nancy has a large number of historical monuments from its past as a ducal capital. The Palace of the Dukes of Lorraine, temporarily closed for renovation, was the main residence of the Dukes of Lorraine from the Renaissance until the 18th century. Since 1848, the building has housed the Lorraine Museum. A few steps away from the Palace is the Cordeliers church which houses the tombs of the Dukes of Lorraine, except for Stanislas' tomb which is in the Bonsecours church. You can also see the tomb of Duke René II, famous for having defeated the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold during the battle of Nancy in 1477.

City of art and industry

Towards the end of the 19th century, private houses began to appear in Nancy. These Art Nouveau style homes are striking with their multi-material facades decorated with leaves and flowers. The most remarkable example of this movement of the Ecole de Nancy is the Villa Majorelle, which you can admire during your walk on the trail of Nancy's industrial treasures. Built by the architect Henri Sauvage, it was owned by the French cabinetmaker and ironworker Louis Majorelle. Many other Ecole de Nancy style buildings are scattered throughout the city, notably in the Saurupt district, where Art Nouveau villas stand alongside post-war Art Deco homes.

Art Nouveau architecture on the building of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry

It is impossible to talk about Art Nouveau in Nancy without mentioning the crystal factory and more particularly the world-renowned Daum factory. Created at the end of the 19th century, the factory has a collection of over 600 pieces and has worked with the greatest artists and designers to create exceptional pieces. Many works of the crystal factory can be admired at the Nancy Museum of Fine Arts.

Nancy and more widely the Lorraine region were transformed by the Industrial Revolution. Many vestiges of this period still remain today. Your run or your walk will make you discover many of these former industrial sites, such as the Grands Moulins de Paris or the former Alstom site. Among those that are worth the detour, the former Tobacco Factory, recognizable by its monumental chimney. Since its closure in 1981, the factory has been home to various cultural and academic spaces.

Find all the routes of the city of the Métropole du Grand Nancy on the JOOKS application.

Run, walk or cycle with JOOKS, from Place Stanislas to Parc de la Pépinière!

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