So now that I’ve figured out where I’d like to stay in Nancy, I need to plan what I’m going to see. The city has a long history, dating back almost 1,000 years. Before France was one unified country, there were a series of independent Duchies that rivaled the crown in importance. Nancy was the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine. Duke Charles III was an early urban planner with utopian plans for a city that lay on the crossroads between northern and southern Europe. Fast forward a few hundred years and the Duchy was given to Stanislas Leszczynski, the father-in-law of Louis XV, and deposed king of Poland. Stanislas kept the Duchy until his death in 1766, at which time it reverted to the French crown.
When France lost Alsace-Lorraine after the disastrous war against Prussia in 1871, Nancy remained French. It filled with refugees who didn’t want to live in Germany. They brought money and know-how with them that transformed the city into the artistic and intellectual hub that it remains today.
The oldest part of Nancy is la Vieille Ville (lah veeay veel), or “the Old City.” It has a more bohemian feel, with galleries, small theatres, and artisan’s workshops. It’s home to the 14th century Porte de la Craffe, above, part of the original fortifications.
Nearby is le palais des ducs de Lorraine, which houses the musée de Lorrain. To mark the 100th anniversary of the start of World War I, there is an exhibit entitled Été 1914 (Summer 1914) that will be open through September 21.
My next stop will probably be the 18th-century Palais du Gouverneur, also classified by UNESCO. That should be enough sight-seeing for one day. Another day, I’ll talk about la Ville Neuve. It looks like I’m going to have a good time, doesn’t it?