The "capital of the East" and former city of the Dukes of Lorraine, Nancy has an impressive collection of 18th century architectural gems. As refined as they were avant-garde, the artists of the "School of Nancy" were highly influential around 1900 during the Art Nouveau period.
The city is perhaps proudest of its gigantic main square, Place Stanislas. It's one of the most beautiful royal squares in Europe, and is a pure example of French classicism. At the centre of the square is a statue of the King of Poland and Duke of Lorraine, Stanislas Lesczyznski (unsurprisingly his unpronounceable surname was not given to the city's main square). The great gilded gates in the square were designed by Jean Lamour. The Place d'Alliance, the Place de la Carrière and the Arc de Triomphe are all impressive sights to tick off as you wander round the city centre. On the Place, the Hôtel de Ville and the Museum of Fine Arts add to the decorative element. The museum's collection retraces the artistic trends from the 14th to the 21st century, through the work of painters such as Caravaggio, Rubens, Bouchet, Manet, Modigliani and Picasso, as well as 300 glass works of art from the Daum crystal studio.
If you're a fan of Art Nouveau, you will love Nancy. Under glassmaker Emile Gallé the boundless creativity of the "School of Nancy" took Nancy to international recognition in the early 20th century. Like Gaudi in Barcelona, the artists were inspired by organic forms, creating an art which linked new modern techniques with industry. Discover more about this fascinating period and the art it inspired at the Museum of the School of Nancy, and there are several interesting Art Nouveau routes you can follow around the city.
Nancy is also a vibrant centre of entertainment and performance art. Nancy Jazz Pulsations is the most important music festival in eastern France, and features all kinds of jazz styles.
Being not far from the German border, Nancy retains some German traditions and customs. The feast of Saint-Nicolas is celebrated in style here. Every year, more than 100,000 people come to celebrate this festival in the streets of Nancy. Parades, music, floats, an avalanche of sweets and a magnificent firework display get everyone in the mood to party.
At the Christmas market in Nancy you'll be able to taste plenty of local specialities such as quiche lorraine and delicious madeleine cakes, and take some home with you, of course.
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