Why you should spend Christmas in Nancy

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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 the Saint-Nicolas Celebrations

Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

Christmas in Nancy truly starts 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. 

The video Le Rendez-Vous de Saint-Nicolas

The celebrations also include a show projected onto the façade of the City-Hall in Place Stanislas called “Le 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:

  • Sunday to Thursday: 6.15pm and 7.15pm
  • Friday to Saturday + school holidays: 6.15pm, 7.15pm and 8.15pm

Find out more about the celebrations of Saint-Nicolas in Nancy.

The parade of the Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

The parade of the Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments


Christmas in Nancy and the Saint-Nicolas Market

Saint-Nicolas market in Nancy (Place Charles III) © French Moments

Christmas in Nancy: Saint-Nicolas market (Place Charles III) © French Moments

Far from enjoying the same status as Metz or Strasbourg, the Christmas market of Nancy nevertheless attracted more than 600,000 visitors in 2012. In fact, it is not a Christmas market per se but a Saint-Nicolas Market!

Originally on Place Maginot, the Christmas market was relocated in 2014 in the newly renovated Place Charles III 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 four locations:

  • Place Charles III (main location with 65 chalets),
  • Place des Bourgets (near the Porte de la Craffe),
  • Place Vaudémont and the adjoining
  • Place de la Carrière where a Ferris wheel offers a spectacular view over the historic city-centre.

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The Saint-Nicolas market offers several ideas of Christmas presents and food such as crib figurines, jewels, toys, glassware, decoration objects, bretzels, Christmas cookies, roasted chestnuts, mulled wine, without forgetting local produce: bergamotes, macarons and gingerbread.

The country guest of honour for 2018 is Japan. A chalet in the Christmas market sells gourmet produce from Liège (waffles and more!)

Originally on Place Maginot, the Christmas market was relocated in 2014 in the newly renovated Place Charles III between the covered market and the St. Sébastien shopping centre. 

In 2018, the Saint-Nicolas market is open from 24 November to 30 December.

Nancy is a good base to explore other popular Christmas markets in Lorraine and Alsace: Metz, Epinal, Plombières-les-Bains and Strasbourg.


The grand Christmas Tree in Place Stanislas

Christmas in Nancy: Place Stanislas © French Moments

Christmas in Nancy: Place Stanislas © French Moments

For the celebrations of Saint-Nicolas, the Unesco-listed square of Place Stanislas welcomes a magnificent Christmas tree.

The 23.50 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.

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Christmas lights in the streets of Nancy

Christmas lights in the streets of Nancy © French Moments

Christmas lights in the streets of Nancy © French Moments

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 newly renovated Place Charles III is specially lit up for the Christmas season. For the first time in 2013 it features an open-air ice-skating rink.

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.

Palais Ducal © French Moments - Nancy 3

The Ducal Palace, Nancy © French Moments

Before heading back to Place Stanislas, make sure to stroll along Place de la Carrière and under the Arc de Triomphe. The Ferris wheel on place de la Carrière 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.

Place de la Carrière, Nancy © French Moments

Place de la Carrière, Nancy © French Moments

The cathedral of Nancy traditionally displays a Nativity scene for Christmas.

christmas-in-nancy-30-copyright-french-moments


Quai des Glaces and the ice-skating rink

Finally, a new ice-skating rink opened for the 2017 edition of the festivities. The rink with an area of 375 m2 is located on place Thiers near the railway station.


About Nancy

Christmas Market Nancy

Christmas market in Nancy, Lorraine © French Moments

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 which includes three beautiful Unesco-listed squares: Place Stanislas, Place de la Carrière and Place d’Alliance. 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.

Find out more about Nancy.


How to get to Nancy

Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

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.
The TGV from Paris-Gare de l’Est take only 1.30 hours and links the Lorraine headcity without any stops along its way.

Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

Saint-Nicolas celebrations in Nancy © French Moments

While spending Christmas in Nancy you might be interested to check out the official website of the Nancy Tourist Board. You can download the programme of the festivities [in French] here.

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About Author

Pierre is a French/Australian who is passionate about France and its culture. He grew up in France and Germany and has also lived in Australia and England. In 2014 he moved back to Europe from Sydney with his wife and daughter to be closer to their families and to France. He has a background teaching French and holds a Master of Translating and Interpreting English-French with the degree of Master of International Relations and a degree of Economics and Management.

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