Nancy: A window to the good life with Art Nouveau the major partner

Strolling through the streets of Nancy where Gothic art rubs shoulders with Art Nouveau, enjoying its parks and sampling its gastronomy is a pleasure for the senses.

The busy historic centre

The first thing you must do when you arrive in Nancy is let yourself be captured by its beautiful historic centre, especially the streets of St. Jean, St. Georges, and their neighbours, where you can admire Art Nouveau close up. The city is one of the most important in Lorraine and the Eastern region, and it acquired international fame thanks to this artistic movement. A whole generation of artists of the modern world took inspiration from nature and this is now reflected in glass and ceramics, furniture, wrought iron, stained glass windows, sculpture and buildings. Make your way to Place Stanislas, one of the prettiest squares in Europe and the link between the new city and the medieval town. Lose yourself among the crowded alleyways, passing through Porte Heré, towards Place de la Carriere, and you will come to the Ducal Palace, the Basílica of Saint Epure, Porte de la Craffe and Pépinière Park.

Location: St. Jean, St. Georges and place Stanislas

Savoury delights

French gastronomy is part of the country’s national heritage and Nancy has been able to take the best from both Alsace and Lorraine. At the restaurant Chez Les Frères Marchand you can try the region’s most typical dishes, like the famous quiches (tart of cheese, cream, bacon and ham), choucroute (cabbage, potatoes and bacon), pâtés, crêpes, cheeses and charcuterie on the fantastic terrace they have in the heart of the medieval centre. Try accompanying the dishes with some of the local wines such as Gamay, Pinot Menier, Auxerrois, Aubin blanc or Pinot Noir.

Location: 99 Grande Rue

The icing on the cake

If we move on to sweet things, then you have to try the famous bergamot candy and Nancy macaroons, which are different from the ‘macarons’ in the rest of France and are served individually and not in pairs as we are used to seeing. La Maison des Soeurs Macarons is the most famous confectioner’s shop specialising in these particular biscuits, and your palate will not be disappointed by the secret recipe handed down from one generation to the next. The fruit tarts, light-as-a-feather sponge cakes, pearls of Lorraine (fruit jellies with brandy centres), floating islands (meringue on custard) and specialities based on the Mirabelle plum will all delight those with a sweet tooth.

Location: 21 Rue Gambetta

Small pleasures

Besides admiring the beauty of Place Stanislas and its iconic buildings such as the Hôtel de Ville (City Hall), the Opera and the Museum of Fine Arts, you can sit at a table on the terrace of some of its varied and lively cafés. We can recommend the legendary Grand Café Foy, where you will feel like a real aristocrat of the old days, eat well and discover something for every budget. If you can be there at dusk so much the better because the view of the square changes hugely as day turns into night. In summer, around 10 pm, Place Stanislas becomes full of light and colour, accompanied by music and a great atmosphere provided by the locals and anyone who happens to be passing. In winter you can take refuge inside and enjoy looking at the vast quantity of mirrors, lamps, red velvet and Art Nouveau everywhere, as if you were in a palace.

Location: Place Stanislas

An example of Art Nouveau: Brasserie l'Excelsior

One example of Art Nouveau is the famous Brasserie l'Excelsior that welcomes you at the railway station. The restaurant has been classified as a historic monument since 1976 because of its high ceilings with symbolism imitating the art of flowers, vaulted arches, stained glass and beautiful lamps. Enjoy a gourmet lunch of traditional French cuisine, such as home-made terrine of duck and red onion confit to start, followed by grilled fillet of salmon with herb butter, apples and spinach, and for dessert ice cream with macaroon and bergamot chips. These are fine dishes, with generous portions and at a reasonable price in a fantastic atmosphere.

Location: 50 Rue Henri-Poincaré

The best of museums

Also on Place Stanislas is Nancy’s Museum of Fine Arts where you will see beautiful collections from various eras and styles with works by Tintoretto, Caravaggio, Claude Gellée, Picasso and José de Ribera. If you are short of time we recommend you stay on the ground floor to see the beautiful glass by Daum, the only commercial glass manufacturer using the glass paste process for sculptures and works of art. And twice a year there is a guided visit with commentary on the exhibits being given in dance. Beautiful. Book early to be sure of a place!

Location: Place Stanislas

Art Nouveau itineraries

In Nancy everything to do with Modernism is very interesting. The Tourist Office has therefore devised various routes away from the historic centre if you want to extend your visit. The first of these is called ‘Le parc de Saurupt' where you can see sumptuous mansions and palatial houses in the purest Art Nouveau style (the best known is the Villa Les Glycines); the second itinerary is called 'Le jardin de Bérénice' where you will see lovely, picturesque facades in residential areas and parks (like those in the Rue Félix-Faure) and the Musée de l'École. Finally you have the route known as 'Les Plaisirs et les Jours’ from the station to the western districts to discover the Villa Majorelle, one of the oldest villas, where the famous furniture and interior designer lived.

Location: Nancy Tourist Office is in Place Stanislas