Nancy is France’s 20th largest city and owes a lot of its beauty to one man, King Stanislas, a huge architectural buff exiled from Poland. He remodelled Nancy into a veritable architectural wonder and many of the buildings are listed as UNESCO World Heritage sites. Here’s the story of Nancy, which truly was built as a Versailles for the people.
King Stanislas had a foot in both France and Poland
Stanislas became King of Poland in 1705 amid huge civil unrest. After an invasion by Sweden, the Swedish King selected Stanislas to take over the rule of Poland. However, many Polish people wanted the old ruler back and when this happened, Stanislas headed to France to live between 1725 and 1733 in the rather grand Château de Chambord. His daughter became Queen of France as wife to King Louis XV and it was with his son-in-law’s help that he returned to Poland to become King again – only to once again have to abdicate three years later. It was then, in 1736, that he settled in Lunéville, and made the city of Nancy his own. Stanislas was responsible for much of its remodelling.
King Stanislas set about remodelling Nancy as a Versailles for the people
The centre of Nancy is a World Heritage Site
Work began in 1752 to build the large area in the centre of Nancy that we still see today. It is actually made up of three squares. The first, Place Stanislas, is where you find the Town Hall, which faces lower buildings that could accommodate the cannons on the old ramparts. A paved avenue leads to an Arc de Triomphe and Place de la Carrière, which was the old Renaissance Square where people used to have jousts. Architect Héré had to completely remodel it so that the entire area looked as if it belonged together. At the end sits the Government Palace and Gardens, which are symmetrical to the Town Hall. Finally, the third square, Place d’Alliance celebrates the friendship between France and Austria, and is a more homely area with rings of trees. All three squares have been UNESCO-listed since 1983.
Nancy is a place where everyday people could enjoy the splendours of Versailles
The Palace of Versailles is one of the most recognisable castles in the world, expanded by King Louis XIV and home to the French royal family until the French Revolution. Stanislas wanted to emulate the grandeur of the architecture but for the man on the street. In Nancy, he established a learned society, the Academie of Stanislas as well as a huge library. Nancy today is one of the key places to study architecture thanks to his influence. Incidentally, Stanislas was the Polish King who lived the longest and he died of serious burns in 1766 after sitting too close to the fire. Stanislas, the Duke of Lorraine, was 88 years old.
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.