Situated between the Haye Forest and the Meurthe River, Nancy is an astonishing city. Blending Classical, Renaissance, Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, the city is surprisingly diverse and brimming with remarkable sites. From Place Stanislas, an architectural jewel listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, to Parc de la Pépinière, 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 app!
Founded in the early 11th century as a fortified city, Nancy was successively capital of the Duchy of Lorraine and then incorporated into France. Today, it owes its renown to its many historic monuments, notably its three squares, the most famous of which, Place Stanislas, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Beyond its rich historical heritage, Nancy is also a dynamic, festive and welcoming city. The city's wide range of leisure activities and outings, as well as its concentration of faculties and higher education establishments, make it one of France's leading student cities. Cultural events such as Saint-Nicolas bring families together and attract large numbers of tourists from all over the world.
The historic heart of Nancy is made up of the Ville-Vieille, whose construction began in the 12th century, and the Ville-Neuve, whose quarters were built during the reign of Duke Charles III of Lorraine, from the 16th century onwards. The Ville-Vieille (Old Town) contains vestiges of the early Middle Ages, including the fortifications that surrounded the medieval town. Don't miss the imposing Porte de la Craffe, built in the 14th century, testimony to the city's pre-Vauban ramparts.
At the heart of the Ville-Vieille lies one of its oldest squares: Place Saint-Epvre. Formerly a market square, it owes its name to the basilica next to it. While the present-day basilica only dates from the 19th century, the square was created in 1495 by Duke René II, whose statue sits atop the central fountain. For the more inquisitive, don't hesitate to push open the doors of the basilica to discover its sublime stained-glass windows.
Nancy's historic center is also home to numerous Renaissance and Classical-style townhouses, built by the noble families of the court of the Dukes of Lorraine. One of the most remarkable is undoubtedly the Hôtel d'Haussonville, now a 4-star hotel, whose courtyard layout contrasts elegantly with the richly decorated clerestory galleries. This complex has been listed as a Monument Historique since 1982.
Capital of the Duchy of Lorraine
From its foundation in the middle of the 10th century to its incorporation into France in 1766, the Duchy of Lorraine has seen no fewer than forty dukes. The most famous is certainly the last, Stanislas Leszczyński, who gave his name to the famous square. A must-see site in Nancy, Place Stanislas is part of a complex grouping together the major institutions of the duchy, linking the Ville-Vieille and the Ville-Neuve. Your stroll to discover the city's essentials will take you through this Unesco World Heritage Site since 1983.
In addition to Place Stanislas, Nancy has preserved a large number of historic monuments from its past as a ducal capital. The Palais des Ducs de Lorraine, temporarily closed for renovation, was the principal residence of the Dukes of Lorraine from the Renaissance to the 18th century. Since 1848, the building has housed the Musée Lorrain. A few steps from the Palais is the Cordeliers church, which houses the tombs of the Dukes of Lorraine, except that of Stanislas, which is in the Bonsecours church. Here you can see the tomb of Duke René II, famous for having defeated the Duke of Burgundy Charles the Bold at the Battle of Nancy in 1477.
City of art and industry
Towards the end of the 19th century, private homes began to appear in Nancy. These Art Nouveau-style homes stand out with their multi-material facades, decorated with leaves and flowers. The most remarkable example of this Ecole de Nancy movement is the Villa Majorelle, which you can admire on your stroll through Nancy's industrial treasures. Built by architect Henri Sauvage, it was owned by French cabinetmaker and wrought-iron craftsman Louis Majorelle. Numerous other Ecole de Nancy-style buildings are scattered throughout the city, notably in the Saurupt district, where Art Nouveau villas stand side by side with post-war Art Deco residences.
It's impossible to talk about Art Nouveau in Nancy without mentioning the world-renowned Daum crystal works. Founded at the end of the 19th century, the factory boasts a collection of over 600 pieces, and has worked with the greatest artists and designers to create exceptional pieces. Many of Daum's works can be admired at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Nancy.
Nancy and the wider Lorraine region were transformed by the Industrial Revolution. Many remnants of this period still remain today. Your run or walk will take you to many of these former industrial sites, such as the Grands Moulins de Paris or the former Alstom site. Among those worth a visit is the former Manufacture des Tabacs, recognizable by its monumental chimney. Since its closure in 1981, the factory has been home to a variety of cultural and university facilities.
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