It was the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. Following its rise to prominence in the Age of Enlightenment, it was nicknamed the “capital of Eastern France” in the late 19th century.
The motto of the city is Non inultus premor, latin for ‘”I am not injured unavenged”, a reference to the thistle, which is a symbol of Lorraine.
The exiled Polish king Stanislaus I (Stanisław Leszczyński in Polish), father-in-law of the French king Louis XV, was then given the vacant duchy of Lorraine. Under his nominal rule, Nancy experienced growth and a flowering of Baroque culture and architecture. Stanislaus oversaw the construction of Place Stanislaus, a major square and development connecting the old medieval with a newer part of the city.
The old city center’s heritage dates from the Middle Ages to the 18th century. The cathedral of Nancy is 18th-century baroque monument. King Sigebert III of Austrasia, merovingian king was laid to rest here. Hence the naming Cathedral of Our Lady of the Annunciation and St. Sigisbert.
Arc Héré, the triumphal arch of Nancy, or Porte Héré is a triumphal arch from 18th century, designed to honor the French king Louis XV. The Arc displays motifs of war and peace with an inscription reading: “HOSTIUM TERROR / FOEDERUM CULTOR / GENTISQUE DECUS ET AMOR” (“terror of the enemies, maker of treaties, and the glory and love of his people”), referring to Louis XV.
When you pass Arc Héré, the alley of trees welcome you to Place de la Carriere. It is named after numerous races, tournaments, games of rings and other chivalrous exercises were held in the past.
Passing the Government Palace, on the right is the arch dedicated to Charles de Gaulle.
Another great monument of Lorraine to mention is the Ducal Palace of Nancy – a former princely residence in which was home to the Dukes of Lorraine. It houses the Musée Lorrain, one of Nancy’s principal museums, dedicated to the art, history and popular traditions of Lorraine until the early 20th century.
You won’t help but be awestruck by Nancy’s magnificent architecture. Nancy’s appearance evolved again in the late-19th century when it was at the vanguard of Art Nouveau. Hence the lunch time at La brasserie Excelsior. The finesse of the french waiters, the patience in the meal course and the delicacy of the meals will leave you speechless.
After a meal like this, the best is a walk though the park. Parc de la Pépinière is the largest park in Nancy. It was founded by Stanislas on the site of the historic Dukes’ gardens and the strong holds of the Old City. For kids and families there’s mini-golf, playgrounds, a puppet theatre in summer and a small zoo where you can get close to monkeys, deer and ducks.
To enter the old town, you need to pass La Porte de la Craffe – medieval fortifications, erected in the 14th century. The gate marks the northern limit of the Grande-Rue which connects to the rue de la Citadelle.
The “Ville Vieille” is Nancy’s historic centre, founded in the 11th century and displays some good examples of medieval and Renaissance style architecture. The “Ville Vieille” was the Nancy of the Middle Ages. Around it were to be found only swamps, fields and forests.
Somewhere in the lost streets of Nancy, theSaint Epvre basilica. This flamboyant gothic basilica is built in the 19th century on the place of the 11th century church.
The Basilica of Saint Epvre is placed on the oldest Nancy square of Saint Epvre. It used to be a vibrant medieval market but today only a place to get a good snack a drink.
Next time visiting, on the savoury side I will definitely have a bite of famous quiche lorraine, the pastry made with eggs, bacon and crème fraîche, a familiar dish across Europe. Au revoir!