Christmas in Nancy is highlighted by the Saint Nicolas Day celebrations in the beginning of December. Until the New Year, several activities and events are organised to maintain the magic around the character of Saint Nicolas, including a Christmas market, elegant Christmas lights in the town centre and the grand Christmas tree standing on Place Stanislas.
Christmas in Nancy turns around Saint-Nicolas!
Christmas in Nancy truly starts in late November. In time with the Saint Nicolas celebrations which take place early December. This major event in France’s north-east includes a great parade with over 30 floats. The procession starts from place Carnot, criss-crosses the streets of the old town before arriving on place Stanislas. There, Saint-Nicolas appears at the balcony of the City-Hall.
Find out more about the celebrations of Saint-Nicolas in Nancy.
A charming hotel at the heart of town!
During my stay, I was accommodated at the Hôtel de Guise***, situated 18 rue de Guise in Nancy.
You can’t find a better central place to explore the old town and the Saint-Nicolas’ markets and Christmas lights!
As it names indicates, the hotel is situated in rue de Guise, just around the corner of the Grande-Rue and the Ducal Palace. Place de la Carrière is at 5 min walking distance.
The hotel occupies a mansion from the Renaissance era with beautifully decorated rooms.
Place Stanislas, the centre point of the celebrations!
At Christmas time, the Unesco-listed square of Place Stanislas becomes the hotspot of the festive season.
The royal square welcomes a magnificent Christmas tree.
The 23 m tall fir tree traditionally comes from the Vosges Mountains to the South of the region. The tree is cut in the morning and by the evening it is already in place in the square.
The Christmas tree is decorated with 4.000 light bulbs (LEDs) and is adorned with over a hundred of red baubles.
It towers over the centre of the square from the end of November to mid-January and is at its best from sunset.
The light show Les Rendez-Vous de Saint-Nicolas
The celebrations also include a show projected onto the façade of the City-Hall in Place Stanislas called “Les Rendez-Vous de Saint-Nicolas“. Every night the 8 minute long video tells the tales of Saint-Nicolas. Two presentations are taking place during the week and three on the weekend and school holidays.
The beautifully lit-up royal square!
Place Stanislas is always beautifully lit up from night fall… but the festive season gives it an enchanting atmosphere with the Christmas tree and the crispy air of Winter. Check out:
- the statue of King Stanislas (always decorated with an original feature!),
- the elegant lampposts,
- the two corner monumental fountains (Poseidon and Amphitrite),
- and don’t forget to walk under the triumphal arch!
Christmas in Nancy and the Saint-Nicolas Market
Since 2015, the Christmas market in Nancy has grown to become one of the region’s largest and most beautiful festive events.
Actually it is more accurate to talk about what it really is: a Saint-Nicolas Market!
Originally on Place Maginot, the Christmas market was relocated in the mid-2010s in the newly renovated Place Charles III. It has found its place between the covered market and the St. Sébastien shopping centre. Then in 2016 the 90 chalets of Nancy’s St. Nicolas market were found in five locations:
- Place Charles III (main location with 65 chalets),
- in the old town: Place des Bourgets (near the Porte de la Craffe),
- Place de Vaudémont (a gourmet market),
- Place de la Carrière (where a Ferris wheel offers a spectacular view over the historic city-centre),
- in front of the railway station: Place Simone Veil (with the open-air iceskating rink).
For the 2019 edition of the Saint-Nicolas festivities, the guest of honour is the neighbouring country of Luxembourg (in 2018, it was Japan).
The main village of Saint-Nicolas on Place Charles III
The main Christmas market offers several ideas of Christmas presents and food:
- crib figurines,
- decoration objects,
- Christmas cookies,
- roasted chestnuts,
- mulled wine,
- without forgetting local produce: bergamotes, macarons and gingerbread.
At the centre of the village is a merry-go-round specially made in Italy for the Christmas market:
This is where you may have a chance to encounter Saint-Nicolas himself. You’ll find him wandering in the alleys of the Christmas market… or at his home in the village:
The Artisans village on Place des Bourgets in the old town
The Artisans market at Place des Bourgets hosts local artists. It is situated near the historic gate of Nancy: porte de la Craffe. Check out the Grande-Rue for the vintage window-shops!
The gourmet market on Place de Vaudémont
The little square welcomes a popular gourmet market where you can eat in or take away delicious food.
Place de la Carrière and the Ferris Wheel
The elegant Place de la Carrière hosts another Gourmet Village… dominated by the 30m tall Ferris Wheel.
The ride will show you an unexpected panoramic view of the historic town centre from above: the place Stanislas to the cathedral and the roofs of the old town.
Quai des Glaces on Place Simone Veil
Finally, the railway square Simone Veil (formerly known as Place Thiers) has become since 2017 the fifth site of the Saint-Nicolas markets. Know as Quai des Glaces, it comprises a few chalets and an open-air ice-skating rink.
Christmas lights in the streets of Nancy
The streets of Nancy’s town centre are brightened up with a magical Christmas light display during the month of December and until the beginning of January.
The shopping streets of Rue Saint-Jean and Rue Saint-Georges twinkle with an array of elegant lights.
In the old town (Vieille Ville), many sites and monuments are lit up for Christmas: Place Saint Epvre, the Craffe Gate and the Ducal Palace.
A few words about what to see in Nancy
Situated in the North-east of France, the former capital of the Dukes of Lorraine takes pride in its exceptional architectural ensemble from the 18th century. It includes three beautiful Unesco-listed squares:
The old town of Nancy with its narrow streets is organised around the Grand’Rue and the Ducal Palace, the residence of the Dukes of Lorraine until the 18th century.
Nancy should also be noted for its impressive Art Nouveau heritage known as the “School of Nancy” (École de Nancy) with many buildings and artefacts from La Belle Époque.
Book your stay in Nancy!
My advice: don’t wait too long before booking your accommodation in Nancy, particularly at Christmas time!
The Festivities of Saint-Nicolas in Nancy draws a lot of people and availabilities in hotels/short-rentals tend to go very quickly.
To book your accommodation in Nancy, click on this affiliate link which will redirect you to our partner booking.com… or use the interactive map below:
Christmas in Nancy: Practical Info!
- The Saint-Nicolas festivities in Nancy take place from 22 November 2019 to 5 January 2020.
- Did you know? A little touristic train connects the sites of Saint-Nicolas in Nancy: place de la Carrière, Place des Bourgets, Place Simone Veil and Place Charles III. The train operates on weekends and is free!
- While spending Christmas in Nancy you might be interested to check out the official website of the Nancy Tourist Board.
- Nancy is a good base to explore other popular Christmas markets in the region: Metz, Plombières-les-Bains, Strasbourg, Colmar, and Luxembourg.
- Read more about Christmas in Nancy on our French blog here!
How to get to Nancy
Nancy is easily reached by car from Paris, Lyon, Belgium and Germany through the network of reliable motorways crossing Lorraine from West to East and North to South.
From Paris, take the N4 which is mostly a dual-carriage-way. Belgium and Germany are not far away either thanks to the A31 and the A4.
If you travel from Australia or America, take a flight to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt or Luxembourg airports and rent a car from there! The closest international airport is actually Luxembourg, some 100 km away from Nancy by motorway.
Travelling by Train?
The TGV from Paris-Gare de l’Est take only 1.30 hours and links the Lorraine headcity without any stops along its way.
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Thank you to Nancy Tourisme for welcoming me during this unforgettable stay in Nancy. This was such a superb opportunity to discover the holiday season in Nancy. This article is the account of my stay and I hope it will encourage you to come and explore this beautiful historic town in Lorraine. 🙂
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