Wondering if Nancy is worth visiting?
Over the past ten years, my travels in France have led me to some of the country’s most delightful secrets. And, with its sublime 18th-century architecture and rich history, Nancy is one of them.
From my first stroll through the Old Town to the moment I bit into a macaron from Maison des Soeurs, Nancy captured my heart. Its charm lies not just in its UNESCO World Heritage sites, but also in the little side streets that I stumbled upon.
In this post, I’m going to help you decide whether Nancy is worth adding to your itinerary. I’ll share with you what makes it so special and 18 reasons why you should visit.
Is Nancy Worth Visiting?
Yes, Nancy is worth visiting!
This captivating city is part of the Grand Est region in northeastern France. It’s here that history merges with modernity to form one of the most unique cultures in the country.
One of Nancy’s most striking features is its rich architectural heritage, particularly that from the 18th century. The most striking is Place Stanislas, a UNESCO World Heritage site that was established in 1983. But that’s not all. There are also several Art Nouveau buildings like Villa Majorelle.
The city’s cultural scene is equally as vibrant. The Musée des Beaux-Arts boasts an extensive art collection including contemporary works. Then, there’s the food. From the savory Quiche Lorraine to the sweet Bergamotes de Nancy, you’ll find plenty of tantalizing options here.
Nature lovers will enjoy the Parc de la Pépinière, a sprawling green oasis located next to Place Stanislas. It’s the perfect spot for a picnic or a relaxing walk.
But my favorite was Jardin Dominique Alexandre Godron. I really enjoyed sitting under the giant trees and taking in the beauty of the lush gardens. It’s ideal for anyone who loves botany.
Needless to say, there are tons of things to do here. So, if you’re wanting to explore the less-trodden paths in France, Nancy should be at the top of your list.
18 Reasons to Visit Nancy
From Place Stanislas to Parc de la Pépinière, Nancy is the perfect place for anyone who wants to get off the typical route. It’s a city brimming with history, culture, and beautiful scenery.
So, without further ado, here are 18 reasons why you should add it to your itinerary.
1. Place Stanislas
Place Stanislas was named after Stanislas Leszczynski, the former Duke of Lorraine. His goal was to connect the old town (Hôtel de Ville) with the new (Hôtel du Gouvernement). And the result was one of the most splendid examples of 18th-century architecture.
Flanked by gilded wrought-iron gates and white stone buildings, it’s no wonder it was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983.
My favorite features were the fountains and the triumphal arch, Arc Héré, on the northern side of the square.
2. Art Nouveau Architecture
At the beginning of the 1900s, a group of artists, designers, and craftsmen brought a new type of architecture to Nancy. This collective was known as the École de Nancy and their creative movement was called Art Nouveau.
They produced a wide range of artwork including sculptures, glassware, and furniture. But their biggest contribution was to the style of houses in Nancy.
Some of the most impressive designs can be found along Rue Félix Faure.
I was walking around the area and a local resident showed me this street (Rue Félix Faure). It’s, undoubtedly, the most unique combination of buildings I saw in Nancy.
Then, there’s the Villa Majorelle. It was one of the first examples of Art Nouveau architecture in the country. You can tour the gardens and the interior, which has even more pieces from this era.
3. Parc de la Pépinière
Parc de la Pépinière is a picturesque park next to Place Stanislas. Here you’ll have walking trails, vast lawns, and gardens perfect for picnics. There’s even a mini-golf course and an auditorium.
But my favorite was the rose garden. It’s a peaceful spot in an otherwise busy park. And the varieties of roses are nothing short of impressive. Of the rose gardens I’ve seen in France, this was the most colorful.
4. Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy
The Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy is a treasure trove of beautiful artwork. As one of the oldest museums in the country, it boasts an impressive range of collections. And the most substantial exhibit is that from the 20th century.
Some notable works include the Daum glassware collection, designs by Jean Prouvé, and The Battle of Nancy painting by Eugène Delacroix.
But it’s not just the artwork that’s worth admiring. The museum itself, established in an 18th-century pavilion, exudes a historical charm that’s hard to resist.
A visit to the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Nancy is like a journey through time, an absolute must-see for any art lover.
5. Vieille Ville (Old Town)
Nancy’s Old Town is a charming maze of narrow cobbled lanes and grand squares. Here, medieval and Renaissance architecture stands side by side with elegant 18th-century structures. The star of the show is, of course, Place Stanislas, but that’s not all there is to see.
Nearby, the Palais des Ducs de Lorraine and the Musée Lorrain offer a deep dive into the region’s history.
There are also several cafes, restaurants, and one-of-a-kind boutiques lining its streets.
My favorite area was between Rue de la Source and Rue des Dames. There are tons of colorful buildings and treasures hidden in the side streets. The photo I took above was of Rue du Duc Raoul, which isn’t written in any guidebook!
6. Local Gastronomy
While Nancy doesn’t have the same reputation as Lyon for gastronomy, several specialties are worth trying.
The Macarons de Nancy are an absolute must-try. These meringue-based confections are not your typical macarons. They are made with an almond base and are much lighter. For the best ones, head to Maison des Soeurs Macarons.
Then, for something savory, quiche Lorraine is the most known regional dish. It consists of a tart filled with eggs, heavy cream, cheese, and lardons.
It’s a hearty recipe that’s best enjoyed in winter, but, if you’re like me, you’ll be able to eat it year-round.
7. Nancy Cathedral
The Nancy Cathedral is a Baroque-style Catholic church built in the 18th century. And, like the other pieces from this period, it combines classic elegance with intricate detailing.
While the exterior is impressive, it doesn’t compare with the other churches in Lorraine that I’ve seen, like the Metz Cathedral.
The interior is, however, exceptional. Here you’ll find paintings from 17th and 18th-century artists and railings from Jean Lamour, who also created the gates in Place Stanislas.
The most significant feature is the organ, which is also a historical monument.
8. Place de la Carrière and Place d’Alliance
Next to Place Stanislas are two other squares, Place de la Carrière and Place d’Alliance. Combined, all three make up the official UNESCO listing.
Until the 18th century, Place de la Carrière was used for tournaments. It then became a part of Stanislas Leszczynski’s reconstruction plans. Today, the square’s central platform is flanked by rows of trees, the Palais du Gouvernement, and Arc Héré. It offers the perfect place to take a break in a calm setting.
Place d’Alliance is even more peaceful than Place de la Carrière. This secluded square is surrounded by towering trees that shade wooden benches. There’s also a centerpiece fountain. And unless you plan on eating your lunch here, you won’t need more than five minutes to visit it.
9. Porte de la Craffe
Porte de la Craffe is a medieval gate dating back to the 14th century. For most of its existence, it served as the northern door to Nancy. Then, in the 19th century, it was converted into a prison.
Today, Porte de la Craffe is the oldest standing monument in Nancy.
Unlike the Porte des Allemands in Metz, you can’t visit the watchtowers, but you can walk through the gate.
It’s a chance to step back in time and marvel at the enduring strength and beauty of this historical piece.
Nancy has tons of different stores. You’ll find there’s something for most budgets and souvenirs are reasonably priced.
Start your shopping spree at Centre Commercial Saint Sebastien, a bustling hub of trendy boutiques. Then, for antique hunters and anyone wanting a unique experience, there’s La Galerie sur son 31.
If you’re looking for local delicacies, make sure to check out Nancy’s Covered Market. And, for more traditional souvenirs and local crafts, the shops along Grand Rue are the place to go.
11. Palais du Gouvernement
The history of the Palais du Gouvernement begins in the 18th century. It was first commissioned by Duke Léopold I of Lorraine who wanted a new ducal palace. Unfortunately, the project was never finished and was abandoned after his death.
During Nancy’s redevelopment, Stanislas Leszczynski undertook the duke’s mission. And a new palace was finally completed in 1753.
For years it served as the headquarters for both the French and German military.
Today, the grounds are open to the public for exhibitions, and the top floors are occupied by the City of Nancy.
12. Saint Mary Park of Nancy
Saint Mary Park of Nancy is the second largest park in the city. And compared to Parc de la Pépinière, I found it less touristy and more peaceful.
Here you’ll find manicured lawns, beautifully maintained gardens, and a gazebo. It’s an ideal spot for quiet reflection or enjoying a picnic.
Then, if you’re looking for something a little different, there’s a half-timbered Alsatian house in the center of the park. It was moved to Nancy in 1909 for the International Exhibition in Eastern France and never left.
But because of its educational garden, today, it’s called Maison de la Nature or House of Nature.
13. Proximity to Other French Cities
Nancy is so well-located that it’s the perfect gateway to other destinations in the east. Not only that but it’s also a major hub for transportation. Its train station serves high-speed TGV trains and regional TER trains, both of which pass via Nancy throughout the day.
And there are tons of incredible places to visit that are less than two hours from Nancy.
The most popular is Metz. This little town has a wealth of attractions like the Metz Cathedral and the Centre Pompidou-Metz. The city’s historical Porte des Allemands and Temple Neuf are also worth a visit.
Then, if you venture a little further, you’ll find yourself in Strasbourg, the capital of Alsace. It’s a city steeped in history and famed for its towering cathedral.
You can even go to Paris if you haven’t already been there!
14. Marché Central de Nancy
The Marché Central de Nancy is a vibrant hub of activity that offers a true taste of local life. Housing 65 vendors, here you’ll find tons of quality products ranging from fresh fruits and vegetables to meats and fish.
Whether you love exploring local food culture or are a true foodie, this is the place to be. It’s a unique experience that goes beyond a regular grocery run.
Situated along Place Henri Mengin, the market is open six days a week from Tuesday to Sunday.
- Tuesday to Saturday – 7:00 am to 6:30 pm
- Sunday – 7:30 am to 1:00 pm
15. Jardin Dominique Alexandre Godron
This historic botanical garden offers a unique blend of history and natural beauty. Established in 1758, it was named after Dominique Alexandre Godron, a renowned local botanist.
It served as Nancy’s botanical garden until 1993. Since then, most of the flora and fauna were moved to the larger Jean-Marie Pelt Botanical Garden.
Today, this 67-acre garden is home to an impressive variety of trees and plants. Stroll along its winding paths and admire the colorful flowers or grab a wooden chair to relax under the canopy. It’s a paradise for nature enthusiasts.
16. Musée de l’École de Nancy
Housed in the former property of Eugène Corbin, Musée de l’École de Nancy recreates the spirit of the Art Nouveau movement.
Its collection showcases work from those artists that were a part of École de Nancy. One such exhibit highlights the beautiful furniture designs of Émile Gallé. There are also various galleries dedicated to glasswork, ceramics, and stained-glass windows. You won’t find another museum like it in France.
17. Rue des Maréchaux
Rue des Maréchaux is a charming thoroughfare that brings a vibrant atmosphere to the city. It’s the perfect blend of history, culture, and gastronomy.
This pedestrian street is home to some of the best eateries in town. The two most known are La Table de Bacchus and Les Fils à Maman Nancy, both of which require a reservation.
You’ll no doubt be enticed by the delicious food, even if you’re not a foodie. But make sure to check out the architecture. It’s yet another example of Art Nouveau in Nancy.
18. Musée Lorraine
Housed in the Ducal Palace and the Cordeliers Church, Musée Lorrain offers an immersive journey into the history of the region.
From ancient Roman artifacts to medieval and Renaissance art, it’s a comprehensive collection. There are even archives from the early 1900s so you can learn about Lorraine’s recent history.
Then, there’s the architecture of the former palace and the church. Their beautifully preserved interiors are as exquisite as the exhibits themselves.
Best Time to Visit
While Nancy is a year-round destination, each season has its pros and cons.
Spring (April to June) – Temperatures are mild, and, by the end of April, the sun is almost always shining. It’s also the low season for tourism so you’ll find lots of deals on accommodation.
Summer (July and August) – Expect hot and humid weather with little relief. Tourist crowds can also be unbearable.
Fall (September to November) – The summer crowds are long gone, and the weather is, once again, pleasant. If you’re visiting in October and November, you’ll be able to catch the leaves changing color.
Winter (December to March) – These are the coldest months of the year. But that doesn’t mean Nancy isn’t worth visiting in winter. There are plenty of indoor activities where you can escape the freezing temperatures.
How to Get to Nancy
The nearest airport is Aéroport de Metz–Nancy–Lorraine. But it’s not well-served and tickets are pricey. Instead, I recommend flying into Paris, either to Charles de Gaulle Airport or Orly Airport. Then, from there, it’s straightforward to get to Nancy.
I’ll go over how to get from Paris to Nancy below.
Paris to Nancy
There are two main ways to travel from Paris to Nancy – by car and by train. I’ll cover each one in more detail in the next sections.
Trains depart from Paris’ Gare de l’Est station and take under two hours. You’ll find tons of departures throughout the day. It’s the easiest and fastest way to get to Nancy from Paris.
If you’re looking for more flexibility and freedom, then renting a car is the best way to get to Nancy. The direct route, without stops, takes about four hours (348 kilometers, 216 miles).
Best Hotels in Nancy
Nancy has tons of fantastic accommodation options. Below is a list of some of the best hotels in town.
- Maison d’Hôte de Myon – Located in the center of Nancy, you’ll have the chance to sleep in a building from the 18th century. It’s quiet yet close to everything and the staff is friendly.
- Hotel De Guise Nancy Vieille Ville – This hotel is in Nancy’s Old Town so you’ll be right in the center. The staff is welcoming and the rooms are comfy.
- Hotel D’haussonville – Located in the historic center, this beautiful hotel is perfect for anyone who wants to add a little luxury to their trip. The rooms are large, but there are only 10 of them.
Best Restaurants in Nancy
There is no shortage of amazing places to eat in Nancy. Below I’ve compiled a list of some of the best restaurants.
- LA COUR DES ARTS – One of the most unique French restaurants in town. The food here is simple but delicious. It’s located in an unassuming building so keep your eyes peeled.
- Racine – Delicious food in an elegant setting. The products are fresh and local. If you’re looking for something more high-end this is the place for you.
- Voyou – Best burger in town. They also offer vegetarian options. The style is chic, the menu is modern, and the prices are reasonable.
Conclusion: Is Nancy Worth a Visit?
Nancy is a cultural treasure trove that offers a unique blend of history, architecture, and gastronomy. It’s a city that’s perfect for anyone who wants to explore the lesser-visited cities of France. And while spring and fall are the best times to visit, you’ll find plenty of activities year-round.
So, now, that you know Nancy is worth visiting, it’s time to start planning your trip. And what better way to do so than with a curated itinerary focused on eastern France?
Read More Articles About France
I hope you enjoyed my post and found it useful. Here are some other articles that I think you might find interesting.
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