Well, the trip with my family to Normandy is not going to work out this year, but we’re going to hope for next year. So, I’m glad I didn’t cancel my hotel in Nancy! Thus far, I’ve looked la Vieille Ville and Place Stanislas. As I told you, my initial interest in Nancy was checking out all of the art nouveau, so it’s time I turned my attention to the main event. I discovered that the Office de Tourisme has plans for four different art nouveau tours. Each tour on the color coded map focuses on a different neighborhood: In the Heart of the Business Area; Le Parc du Saurupt; Le Jardin de Bérénice; and Pleasures and Days.
As the name suggests, “In the Heart of the Business Area” focuses on nineteen shops, restaurants, banks, and public buildings from the turn of the 20th century. The Tourism Office brochure says, “The Ecole de Nancy took advantage of technical progress and the fine quality of the existing decorative arts and crafts in the area to symbolise the spirit of enterprise, characteristic of the middle class at the time, using stone, glass and wood.”
“Le Parc du Saurupt” tour focuses on a utopian housing development created in 1901 for Jules Villard. Although 100 buildings were planned, only seven of them were actually built. The larger home plans were ultimately “replaced by semi-detached houses which better satisfied market needs, and the park became part of the public domain.”
“Le Jardin de Bérénice” features the Parc Sainte-Marie neighborhood. The centerpiece is the musée de l’École de Nancy. Originally the home of a patron of art nouveau, it now houses one of the finest collections in the world. The exhibit this summer focuses on art nouveau artists and their involvement in the First World War. As the Tourism Office brochure says “The School [of Nancy] played a very active role in forging an alliance between art and industry. Following Émile Gallé’s lead, a whole generation of artists sought inspiration in plant-life and in science to best reinvent the decor of the city and that used in everyday life.” The modest family homes still show classic art nouveau color schemes and floral decoration.
“Pleasures and Days,” the final tour, features Villa Majorelle, the most famous art nouveau residence. This tour focuses on the neighborhood that was built near the railway station as Nancy expanded in the years following the annexation of Alsace and Lorraine. Artisans and the intelligentsia left the German-occupied territory for Nancy on the French side. In addition to the famous Villa are the homes of those who were comfortably well-off.
Today’s phrase, l’itinéraire pédestre (lee-tin-air-air pay-des-truh) means pedestrian itinerary or walking route or trail. My Fitbit and I are going to get a great workout on these four itinéraires pédestre among the art nouveau treasures of Nancy.