Our Barge, Odysseus

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Nancy - Friday, Aug. 6

There's a pretty good sized marina for pleasure boats in Nancy but it's crowded and relatively expensive. Luckily, there are many free, convenient places to tie up along the bank and, since we can do without electric hookups for quite a while, we just found a good spot and settled in.
We can thank the dethroned King of Poland and the early twentieth century Art Nouveau movement for Nancy's high points. In the mid 1700's, King Louis XV of France awarded the Dukedom of Lorraine to his father-in-law, Stanislas Leszczynski, on the the understanding that on his death, it would revert to the king. Stanislas embarked on a massive, and largely successful, urban renewal project that transformed most of the central city into a model of then-current Classicism. The main square, named after the last Duke, is a fitting monument to his work.

At each corner are magnificent wrought-iron gates, two with beautiful fountains.

And triumphal architecture abounds: one of the other entrances to the square.

Nancy's other major claim to fame is the early twentieth century "L'Ecole de Nancy," one of the principal parts of the Art Nouveau movement. Nancy was a handicraft and metalworking town (thus the Stanislas Square gates), and the principals in the "School of Nancy" attempted to join the artistic styles of Baroque and orientalism with the then-modernism. There is a huge park, the Park de la Pépiniére, near the center of town. It contained this bandstand, a good example of Nancy's work.

We wanted to sample one of Nancy's many fine restaurants but it's the middle of August so all the best ones are closed for summer vacation. We'll have to try again later.
We were able to attend Nancy's "Son et Lumiere," however. Cities all over France put on these spectacles. We saw a great water and light show in Strasbourg. Nancy projected an elaborate spectacle on the facade of the City Hall. It was truly a spectacular. Stanislaus Square was filled with people oohing and ahing at the show.
The weather was a little marginal, gray and drizzly during our stay, so picture taking was not the best and, since Nancy will be our train connection back and forth to Lagarde, we'll be here again.
Saturday morning we were off on the next leg of this years journey, down the Moselle River.

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