Immersed in elegance, dripping with art nouveau architecture,
furniture and objets d'art, Nancy is the perfect French getaway,
ideal for lovers of art, sophisticated style and fine cuisine.
Admittedly, I wasn't sure if this was worth more than a quick overnight.
Most guidebooks recommend Nancy as little more than a cursory
diversion on your way between the prestigious and universally
adored wine-soaked regions of Champagne and Alsace.
And then there's the whole Alsace-Lorraine thing --- the more obscure
Lorraine always playing second banana to blue-chip Alsace.
Little hyped Nancy fares even less ink.
How wrong those back-seat drivers are.
Take a closer look and you'll find an intriguing city where the best bits
are polished and nuanced, a corner of France with a different sort of flavor.
If you love art and you love France, you too will be glad
you scored a date with beautiful Nancy.
a great place to start your tour.
Known as Place Stan to the locals, this resplendent piece
of real estate will knock your socks off.
So fancy, it may even out-ritz The Ritz in blue-blooded Place Vendome Paris.
Wrought iron gateways surround pale stone buildings and elaborate fountains,
a setting that's lavish enough to say it's fit for a king -- which is appropriate since
it was a king -- make that a deposed king -- who brought the ornate square to light.
King Stanislas I of Poland lost his kingdom when the
Treaty of Vienna ended the war between France and Austria.
The titans of Austria negotiated an agreement to unseat the King of Poland.
In exchange, France strategically offered the deposed king the dukedom of Lorraine.
French King Louis XV was quite simply "keeping it in the family".
Stanislas of Poland was his father-in-law so the deal made peace
and all parties came out ahead.
As thanks for his new role in France, Stanislas created a royal square
(1752-1755) to honor his french (son-in-law) king.
He pulled out all the stops, fashioning a symmetrical masterpiece
considered to be one of the finest squares in all of Europe,
so much so that it has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
UNESCO's stated goal "to represent a masterpiece of human creative genius"
underscores the brilliance of this architectural wonder.
I couldn't say it any better.
Nancy is a triumph of French artistry.
of the Polish-king-turned-duke's generosity.
Place de la Carrière and Place d'Alliance extend the symmetrical
perfection of his architectural tour de force.
Sometimes overlooked by the more conspicuous Place Stan,
these treasures have been recognized by UNESCO as another
example of Stanislas' monumental reconstructive surgery in his adopted home.
The expression urban planning connotes a modern effort to tie together
the organization and design of a city.
In this case, Stanislas connected medieval Nancy to the "new" town
built in the 17th century.
A grand palace with a superb perspective offer an air of refinement
made for romance and a reason to slow down.
Savor the pretty fountains, trees, pavilions and flowers -- just
one more thing to love about fancy Nancy.
This art-crazed city boasts treasures conspicuously unconventional,
making this traveler wonder why it's not on more "must see" itineraries.
The School of Nancy (Ecole de Nancy) is a storehouse of art nouveau riches.
I can always define my feelings by the number of capitol letters and
exclamation points I use in my travel journal -- for this particular museum,
I penned STUNNING!! OVERWHELMED!!! BEAUTIFUL!!!!
You get the point.
The Art Nouveau movement -- 1880 until around 1910 -- is considered
one of the great periods of artistic style.
Defined by exquisitely curved lines, the design serves up
a near fatal blend of luxury and ornate technique -- yet remains
steeped in a graceful harmony with nature.
The end result projects romance and femininity, a style influence
we usually associate with big brother Paris.
Decorative arts had finally earned a seat in the hierarchy of the
art world, a promotion from the back room.
There was glory in the intricately wrought
masterpieces that defined the art nouveau movement.
You can visit the School of Nancy, now an easy-going museum housed
in a beautiful 1909 villa -- and a lovely garden to match.
You'll fill your quota of art nouveau master works,
capped off by Emile Galle's sensually curvy furniture that
will make you want to race home to chop your own tragic trappings to pieces.
Artists of the day, architects, glass-masters and inventors make for
a museum experience you'll never forget.
The name Daum is synonymous with the city of Nancy and is quite naturally
one of the highlights of this triumph, particularly their colorful lamps and vases.
Do not miss the chance to see this exquisite legacy, for me,
the highlight of my trip to Nancy.
you'd never expect to see outside Paris or London.
Tintoretto, Rubens, Caravaggio, Delacroix, and Picasso are just a handful
of the richly accomplished artists that make this museum so special.
Great works from the 14th century through the 21st century make it a rich stop
for even those who don't typically enjoy art museums.
Sculpture by Maillol, Rodin and Zadkine energize the abundantly loaded galleries.
The Daum Exhibition Gallery contains some 600 pieces from Nancy's
most influential glassworks company so if you didn't get your fill
at the School of Nancy, you'll find it here.
Recognizing so many diverse elements in one grand gallery
is the consummate art experience and you need not worry about the crowds
you typically encounter in other European capitols.
The best parts are pretty centrally located and soon enough
you'll forget about your achy feet.
In Nancy, it's all about the details -- leaf and tendril motifs, birds,
flowers and insects combined in intricate curved designs in
every neighborhood marked by the art nouveau movement.
There are other parts of the city that are markedly medieval in flavor
and still others propelled by French classicism.
Take your time and focus on the small details.
Several parks offer gorgeous green views including an important botanical garden. As in all of France, churches play a large role but if your time is short,
I recommend a look at either The Cathedral of Nancy or the Basilique Saint-Epvre.
When in Nancy, let's face it -- the focus is art nouveau.
And that alone is a worthwhile effort.
That's huge on its own -- but there's so much more.
Its richly appointed Place Stanislas is so elegant, it comes as a surprise.
And I haven't even mentioned quiche lorraine yet,
the dish made famous in this land of bacon and cream.
Good king Stanislas I contributed to Nancy's wealth of riches in other ways as well.
French cuisine's legendary baba au rhum, a dessert we typically associate
with Paris bistro cooking, was created for the feasts he so proudly hosted.
Enjoy lunch at L'Impromptu in the Marché Couvert for a
french taste of what's fresh from the market daily.
And please, spend a couple of days wrapped in Nancy's extraordinary aura,
surely one of France's best kept secrets.