In the last weekend in September we went to visit some friends in Nancy in Lorraine province of France. We left Lausanne in a Friday afternoon and with the help of a GPS system we managed to arrive at night in Nancy after around 4 hours of driving. We spent that evening in a bar, catching up with the latest news as we did not see our friends for more than 6 months.
Nancy has a population of around 400000, very similar in size with my university city of Timisoara (western Romania), and its the capital of Meurthe-et-Moselle department. The city's history goes back to 800BC, and their glory period was under the rule of Duke Stanislas (as the capital of the Duchy of Lorraine) in 18th century. Stanislas (or Stanislaw in polish language) was the King of Poland when he abdicated the throne and was chosen to rule the Duchy of Lorraine, which return to France after his death (1766).
Duke Stanislas left his mark on the city by a major urban planning project, now called in his honor Place Stanislas. Since 1983, this square and its surroundings were designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The square is surrounded by an architecturally harmonious ensemble of buildings: the City Hall of Nancy (Hôtel de Ville - on the South part); on the East the Opéra-Theâtre (formerly the bishop's palace) and the Grand Hôtel (originally the Hôtel de la Reine, actually occupied by the Intendant Alliot) - see right image
; the Fine Arts Museum (Musée des Beaux Arts, originally the Collège de Médecine) and the Pavillon Jacquet to the West. The North side of the square has smaller buildings for defensive purposes, and a gallery which links to the Place de la Carrière, passing through a Triumphal Arch (left-top image
The four corners of the square feature gilded wrought iron gates and lanterns, created by Jean Lamour (1698-1771) and ornate fountains designed by Barthélémy Guibal (1699-1757).
The square is now only for pedestrians and feature many coffees and restaurants, creating a wonderful atmosphere.
There are a few more landmarks throughout the city, as the Craffe Gate
(right image) - part of the old fortification surrounding the old city.
We spent a whole day around the city to discover its hidden treasures, but Sunday we decided to search for provincial landmarks - beautiful ancient residences scattered across all France. There are many castles around Nancy, as there are anywhere you put your hand on France's map. We had several choices: Luneville, Fleville and Haroue
out of several more... Luneville Chateau, the residence of the same Duke Stanislas had burn down a few years ago and there are still reconstruction work going on, while we found Chateau Fleville closed down on Sunday morning. So, we ended up visiting Chateau de Haroue
at 30km south of Nancy.
We made a good choice. An impressive castle in the rural area, surrounded by a moat and beautiful gardens. Haroue Palace
was build in 1720 by architect Germain Boffrand for Beauvau-Caron family (still owners of the castle), and is a classical example of 18th century French architecture (renaissance).
After another 4 hours of driving we returned to Lausanne late evening with a very good harvest of images... As most of the French castles will be closed for visitors during winter (except the most famous ones), I am looking forward to discover more next spring. I even brought a complete guide for the castles of France as a reference and started making plans...