The Saint Nicolas Day celebrations highlight Christmas in Nancy at 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. Embark on a guided tour through the festive streets of the capital of the Dukes of Lorraine.
Christmas in Nancy and Saint Nicolas
Christmas in Nancy truly starts in late November, in time for the Saint Nicolas celebrations, which take place in early December. This major event in northeast France includes a grand parade with over 30 floats. The procession starts from Place Carnot and crisscrosses the streets of the old town before arriving at Place Stanislas. There, Saint Nicolas appears on 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 at 18 rue de Guise in Nancy.
You can’t find a better central place to explore the old town, Saint Nicolas’ markets, and Christmas lights!
As its name indicates, the hotel is in Rue de Guise, just around the corner of the Grande-Rue and the Ducal Palace. Place de la Carrière is at 5 minutes’ 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 region’s South. 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 has over a hundred 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 occur 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 nightfall… 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 most significant and beautiful festive events.
Actually, it is more accurate to talk about what it is: a Saint-Nicolas Market!
Originally on Place Maginot, the Christmas market was relocated in the mid-2010s to the newly renovated Place Charles III. It is 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 (central 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 ice skating 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 stalls of the Village de Saint Nicolas
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.
The merry-go-round made in Italy
At the centre of the village is a merry-go-round specially made in Italy for the Christmas market:
Meeting Saint Nicolas
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 near the historical 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 famous 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
Nancy’s town centre’s streets are brightened with a magical Christmas light display during 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.
What to see in Nancy
Situated in northeast 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 the 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 draw many 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 occur from the end of November to the beginning of January.
- Did you know? A little tourist 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 for exploring 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 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, thanks to the A31 and the A4.
If you travel from Australia or America, fly to Paris Charles de Gaulle, Frankfurt or Luxembourg airports and rent a car from there! Luxembourg is The closest international airport, some 100 km from Nancy by motorway.
Travelling by Train?
The TGV from Paris-Gare de l’Est takes only 1.30 hours and links the Lorraine head city without any stops.
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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. 🙂