As part of our #ExploreEurope campaign John the roving (we prefer tedious!) traveler rolled up to Nancy in France. Nancy was the capital of the Lorraine Region (as in Quiche Lorraine the delicious pie).
Nancy is only a 1 hour 45 minute drive from Ramstein so can be done on a day trip or a weekend.
Nancy’s eclectic culture comes in a variety of guises. It boasts its own National Opera & Ballet companies, a Symphony & Opera orchestra, two national theatres, six museums and hosts many festivals, plays and shows.
Often regarded as the 2nd most beautiful city in France after Paris. The square, platz, piazza or as the French call it Place – Stanislas is a UNESCO world heritage site. It truly is one of the most remarkable Royal places of architecture you will see. It was built in 1755 and the City Hall, Theatre, Opera House and The Fine Arts Museum are the buildings in the square with gold embossed gates on the corners. It is certainly a great spot for a coffee or a glass of wine while you watch the world go by a and get a cheeky selfie or two ?.
Nancy was freed from Nazi Germany by the U.S. Third Army in September 1944, during the Lorraine Campaign of World War II at the Battle of Nancy (1944).
In 1988, Pope John Paul II visited Nancy. In 2005, French President Jacques Chirac, German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder and Polish President Aleksander Kwaśniewski inaugurated the renovated Place Stanislas.
What to Do
There is the small train tour or en Petit Train that you start and finish in Place Stanislas. At just 7 euro for a 40 mins driving in and around this wonderful city is a bargain and with audio in English it is very worthwhile. Plus the kids will love it.
The Tourist information office is in Place Stanislas. I went in and grabbed a map and then just walked. Then I headed to Grande-Rue or The Big Street (it sounds so much nicer in French!). It is dated from the middle ages and many of the shops and houses still have their original facades.
I took many pictures and everyone I showed them too said that is how we imagine France. One photo of a man on a bike going past a café – all that was needed for the dream was the cyclist in a stripy shirt and garlic or onions around his neck ?.
Then I walked over to the Arc de Triomphe – a replica of Septimus Severus’ Triumphal arch in Rome – I think someone once said there might be one in Paris also!
There are a few gardens to visit. All close by. Just of Place Stanislas to break up the day is a 50 acre park. The walkways are covered by trees so it is cool in the summer and you can let the kids run and burn some energy. Jardin Godron is a small botanical garden with wonderful flowers and amazing colors. Take a stroll and allow the peacefulness to take over. They have many important plants including black (American) Walnuts, tulip trees, nettle trees and much more…..
It is France so you can be sure that all the food is good. I loved seeing the locals lining up for bread, croissants and pastries on the Sunday morning. I found a small food market with fresh fish, meat and vegetables plus wonderful looking roasted chicken at the back of a church that was over 500 years old (the church not the chicken)!
A strong recommendation if you want to treat yourself comes from Mitch our salesman in Spangdahlem. His mother is French so he knows a thing or two about the country and cultures. Brasserie Excelsior – the building alone is worth a visit for the architecture but then wait till you try the food. I took Mitch up on his recommendation and fair to say he was VERY impressed. In fact I would say it was actually devine!
Many great places to stay. John stayed at the Hotel Campanile – 500 meters from Place Stanislas just 65 euro.
For more info on this beautiful city go to www.nancy-tourisme.fr