During my long coach journey from Switzerland to France, I stayed overnight at a French city called Nancy in the Lorraine region. By the end of the evening, I wished I could have had an extra day or two to explore this very historical city.
Nancy has an air of finesse found nowhere else in Lorraine. Thanks to Place Stanislas, she is considered to be one of the most beautiful places in the world and is inscribed in UNESCO’s World Heritage List.
Up to the mid-17th century, Nancy comprised two distinct fortified towns separated by an esplanade. Stanislas I, King of Poland and father-in-law of Louis XV, wanted to honour his son-in-law. So he embarked on an ambitious project to join the towns and extend the area. The French architect, Emmanual Héré de Corny, was commissioned to look for an ideal site and in 1752, the foundation stone for the first building in the Stanislas Square was laid.
Place Stanislas is Nancy’s crowning glory. The magnificent pale-stone buildings and facades, fountains and gold-coloured wrought-iron railings, are regarded as one of the most exquisite and homogeneous examples of 18th century neo-classical architecture.
Famous buildings surrounding the square include the handsome Town Hall (Hôtel de Ville), the Opera House (Opéra National de Lorraine) and the Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux-Art).
Besides being an arts and cultural melting pot, the square is also home to many cafes and restaurants. This makes it the undoubted venue for events and festivities in Nancy.
Outside the golden gates, the Old Town becomes recognisable with its narrows streets, alleyways, tall houses and mullioned windows.