La Vieille Ville

Nancy_Rue_Ville_Vieille_01So 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.

Nancy_Rue_Ville_Vieille_05When 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.

porteThe 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.

palaisNearby 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.

eglise-des-cordeliers-stallesNext door is the Couvent des Cordeliers, also part of the museum. In its marble mausoleum lie the tombs of the dukes of Lorraine.

porte desillesAnother landmark is la Porte Désilles, an 18th century triumphal arch in honor of the sons of Nancy who died in the American Revolution.

St EpvreAlso in this quartier is the 15th century gothic St-Epvre basilica; it’s another classified national monument in a history-filled city.

palais du gouverneursMy 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?

51GGHlBVaAL__SL75_Fodor’s France 2014

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About Patricia Gilbert

Patricia Gilbert is a French teacher. She's Canadian, lives in the United States, but dreams of living in France. Follow her on Instagram @Onequalitythefinest and on Twitter @1qualthefinest.
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2 Responses to La Vieille Ville

  1. Pingback: L’Itinéraire pédestre | One quality, the finest.

  2. Pingback: Les Pissenlits | One quality, the finest.

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