I was excited to go to Nancy since it was reported to be a great repository of Art Nouveau. I love Art Nouveau and had really enjoyed seeing some beautiful architecture of that era when we visited Prague.
Luckily, we were not disappointed. We found some free parking and headed out to explore the town. Almost the first thing we saw was a beautiful building that even had Art Nouveau stained glass windows – I was so sad we couldn’t see them from the inside. We also saw the local office of "L’Est Republican”, the newspaper we have been in a couple of times.
We headed onward towards the magnificent Place Stanislaus. Frankly, this is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. This one beats the main place in Brussels by far! The gate encircling the buildings is absolutely magnificent. The buildings themselves are perfectly preserved examples of 18th century architecture and there are these awesome fountains in the corners of the square as well. The kids are posing in front of the Fountain of Amphitrite.
Incredibly, the Nancy tourist information office was open on this Easter Sunday afternoon and we were able to get a great map, as well as a magnet. It seems that the traditional Latin motto of Nancy is “Non inultus premor (No one touches me with impunity) but the more modern day logo is I love Nancy – but made so it looks like I love New York (unless you look very, very closely). I confess, I am not getting the marketing genius at work here. I’m not trying to knock Nancy, but it’s no NYC. Nothing is NYC but, well, NYC itself! And why would it want the comparison? In a way, it worked though – I couldn’t resist buying a magnet with the logo….
We got a great brochure at the tourist office and spent the next hour or two wandering through the town and seeing as much as we could. Griffin was very into showing off his dancing techniques throughout this time until he fell down. This fall led to the cute series of photos below….
The next stop was the Cathedral of Nancy, which was luckily open to the public. It had an amazing organ and incredible Bavarian-influenced wood work. I love the photo of the teens leaning up against the giant doors. It not only shows the scale of the doors, it also expresses something we see all the time at cathedrals. People hanging out. People are always around the cathedrals, talking, chatting, begging… you name it!! I also shot the candles below since that is another sight we almost always see in cathedrals, since it was Easter Sunday, there were more lit than usual.
Below, you can see a close up on a beautiful sculpture of good old Joan of Arc. She is featured in many of the cathedrals we have visited in France. You can also see the kids huddling on top of a grate that is blowing hot air up onto their chilly bodies. They love grates and often sit on them while André and I wander around the nave.
And of course, there was beautiful stained glass. Our newfound camera seems to do pretty well – it is so very difficult to capture the beauty of these windows…
Once we left the cathedral, the kids got some energy out by leaping down the shallow stairs out front. I found it hilarious that, although he fell every single time Griffin was never discouraged and just kept trying over and over again. I know there are too many photos of this – but they are just so much fun so I couldn’t cut further!
We wandered onward, in search of Art Nouveau. Here are some finds…
Of course, I also enjoyed the little quirks we found. The crosswalks here are marked, specifically, as safe for dogs. You can see that in the helpful sign at left. I’m wondering if dogs can read here. We passed a travel agency at one point advertising trips to Mont St. Michel. Of course, we have been there, so I pointed it out to the kids. Do you remember that place? After about 30 seconds of hemming and hawing Callie’s eyes lit up - “Oooh! I know, it’s Cinderella’s castle at Disney!” Um…. not so much!
Window shopping was particularly fun in Nancy. It seems like they have a great variety of cow items, I was wishing my friend Deb was along to purchase some of them.
We walked through the city towards the only remaining 17th century city gate. It is known as the Porte de la Citadelle. Later, a second gate was added to the back end of this gate, making the defenses even more impenetrable.
We even ended up hanging around in an art museum in Nancy for about an hour since they were having it open for free on this day. I was in love with the Sphinx they had in the garden! I also thought the roman burial huts they had on display were interesting. They look kind of like doll houses, don’t they? I find it interesting that cremation was around during Roman times.
Of course, we had the kids use the bathroom before we left the museum, but the potty parade began again as we passed through the Place Saint Epvre. I was glad since the church exterior is quite lovely and even featured a FLYING COW! I’ve never seen one on a church before and I have no idea what the spiritual significance could possibly be – but it’s a pretty awesome stature, anyway!
We also got to see an inspirational speech from Charles De Gaulle that he gave on a radio address to all the French.I thought the speech was very interesting. Here is a translation from Wiki:
- The leaders who, for many years, have been at the head of the French armies have formed a government. This government, alleging the defeat of our armies, has made contact with the enemy in order to stop the fighting. It is true, we were, we are, overwhelmed by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it is the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which are causing us to retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point of bringing them to where they are today.
- "Believe me, I who am speaking to you with full knowledge of the facts, and who tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that overcame us can bring us victory one day. For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone! She has a vast Empire behind her. She can align with the British Empire that holds the sea and continues the fight. She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of the United States.
- "This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is not over as a result of the Battle of France. This war is a worldwide war. All the mistakes, all the delays, all the suffering, do not alter the fact that there are, in the world, all the means necessary to crush our enemies one day. Vanquished today by mechanical force, in the future we will be able to overcome by a superior mechanical force. The fate of the world depends on it.
- " I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who might end up here, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the specialised workers of the armament industries who are located in British territory or who might end up here, to put themselves in contact with me.
- "Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished. Vive la France!!!”
He was right, wasn’t he? Even so, I do wonder how the citizens reacted. Inspired or annoyed by this guy preaching to them from his safe English haven? I know De Gaulle was immensely popular after the war, became Prime Minister and later President of France but I still think that part of me might have been frustrated by his leadership from so far away.
We drove home through the green fields of the Lorraine region of France, making it by dinner. We had Monday to recover from our trip and everyone seemed to do OK. Too bad the whole thing ended up costing us (because of gas) about 350 Euros. I guess we just can’t travel that far cheaply, even if we do sleep in the car!