Architectural jewels of the city, the three squares of Nancy, classified as UNESCO World Heritage sites, are outstanding examples of a functional modern urban layout. The center of the city surrounds them.
While touring the city, visitors will be able to easily distinguish the architectural differences between the Old Town and the New Town.
La Vieille Ville (the Old Town): crisscrossed by narrow streets and small squares, the Old Town is lined with tall, sometimes medieval houses, and is grouped around the Ducal Palace built by René II. The Craffe Gate (14th century) remains the oldest historical vestige from medieval times.
La Ville Neuve (the New Town): the grid plan adopted by Italian architects when constructing the area is found in the streets’ orthogonal layout (one with many right angles), characteristic of the Renaissance.
Work on Place Stanislas (then called Place Royale), began in 1752 on a vast esplanade. The inauguration took place on November 26th, 1755. The statue of Louis XV that adorns the center influenced the decor of the whole square, which, at Stanislas’ wishes, was meant to honor and glorify his son-in-law. The layout of the square is based on a model often seen in 18th century France, such as in Bordeaux, or at the Place de la Concorde in Paris. Though the layout is rather classic – a succession of two-story homogeneous facades – the exceptional ironwork of architect Héré and blacksmith Jean Lamour makes it unique.
The statue of Louis XV was destroyed during the French Revolution, and it wasn’t until forty years later that the statue of Stanislas was erected in its place. On the south end stands the grand facade of the town hall. The Grand Hotel de la Reine and the Nancy Opera House occupy the east side. To the west sit the Jacquet pavilion and the Museum of Fine Arts. To the north are the Héré pavilions, built on a single story (for military defense reasons) and the Arc de Triomphe, which provides a view of Place de la Carrière. The exceptionally delicate gold-accented wrought iron grates are the work of Jean Lamour, linking the buildings and accentuating the sensation of architectural homogeneity in the square. The Amphitrite (towards the nursery) and Neptune (towards the Museum of Fine Arts) Fountains, adorned with beautiful grates, add to the sublime setting. Originally, they were meant to conceal the ramparts, which have since been razed. They are the work of Barthélémy Guibal.
For its architectural unity, delicacy and proportional perfection, Place Stanislas is considered one of the most beautiful squares in the world.
Restorations conducted in 2005 to celebrate its 250 years revealed the beauty and size of the original pavement (ocher, diagonally streaked with black), which structures the square. Now reserved for pedestrians, the square once again showcases its original splendor to visitors.
A magnificent sound and light show is projected onto the facades at night from mid-June to mid-September. (See "Events").
The Hôtel de Ville (1755)
Place Stanislas, 54000 Nancy
Visit possible. Information available at the Tourist Office.
The building is accessible via a large, richly decorated hall. Of note is the beautiful and imposing staircase by Jean Lamour. Upstairs, the Salon Carré or the Salon de l’Académie, was decorated in honor of Stanislas by Girardet. These two elements are the only original parts of the building. The Grand Salon, installed in 1866 by the Empress Eugenie, previously served as the private apartments of Stanislas.