The intimate square of Place d’Alliance in Nancy

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The Place d’Alliance is certainly the smallest, however the most intimate square of Nancy. Located just a stone’s throw from the Place Stanislas, it is often bypassed (or ignored) by the tourists visiting Nancy. That’s probably why I love coming here to sit under the shady trees and enjoy a bit of peace and tranquility. It was listed by the UNESCO as a work of art, of peace and refinement alongside the adjacent Place Stanislas and Place de la Carrière.


Place d’Alliance: the origins

Place d'Alliance, Nancy © French Moments

Place d’Alliance, Nancy © French Moments

The square was originally named “Place Saint Stanislas” and built on the site of the kitchen garden of Stanislas, last duke of Lorraine.

By its name, Place d’Alliance (the Alliance square), recalls the alliance formed in the 18th century between France and the House of Lorraine-Habsburg (Austria).

On the 1st May 1756 France and Austria concluded an alliance treaty that put an end to over 250 years of open warfare. The treaty also aimed at countering the growing influence of Prussia and England.


A small and intimate square

Place d'Alliance in Nancy © French Moments

Place d’Alliance in Nancy © French Moments

The square forms a 80m by 60m rectangle. It is surrounded by sober classical houses of similar style and height built in the 18th century. The centre of the square is marked by a double row of old linden trees. Some of the original trees which were planted in 1763 are still visible today. 

In its centre rises a remarkable fountain designed by sculptor from Bruges Paul-Louis Cyfflé (1724-1806). It is most likely that the artist was inspired by Bernini’s fountain in the Piazza Navona in Rome.


The fountain of place d’Alliance

At first the fountain was designed in 1753 to stand in the centre of the Hémicycle de la Carrière to celebrate Louis XV’s victories. It was transferred in Place d’Alliance three years later, and was modified in order to symbolise the “new Alliance” forged between the Kingdom of France and Austria.

Now take a closer look at the fountain.

You can see three river-gods pouring out their urns in a pond. They symbolise the Moselle, the Meurthe and the Meuse, Lorraine’s three main rivers. Other sources talk about the Rhine, the Escaut and the Meuse.

Place d'Alliance in Nancy © French Moments

The three river gods of the fountain, Place d’Alliance in Nancy © French Moments

They support on their shoulders a curved entablature containing three cornucopias (horns of plenty). On its edge is engraved the Latin expression: “Prisca recensque fides votum conspirat in unum” (the former and the new fidelity now share the same wish).

From there rises an obelisk made of stone, decorated with battle trophies in lead (helmets, quivers..)

On the top stands a winged-genie, blowing a trumpet. 

Place d'Alliance in Nancy © French Moments

The winged-genie atop the fountain of Place d’Alliance in Nancy © French Moments

Until recently he was seen holding a bronze shield on which was engraved in Latin: “Perennæ Concordiæ Fœdus Anno 1756” (Everlasting alliance treaty 1756). It was found in possession of a young man in the night of the 11th September 2017. Since then the medallion has not recovered its original place (I was last in Nancy in June 2018).


English-French Vocabulary

Place d'Alliance, Nancy © French Moments

Place d’Alliance in Winter © French Moments

(f) for féminin, (m) for masculin, (adj) for adjective and (v) for verbs

  • alliance = alliance (f)
  • architectural ensemble = ensemble architectural (m)
  • architect = architecte (m)
  • art = art (m)
  • Austria = Autriche (f)
  • to build = construire (v)
  • duke = duc (m)
  • fountain = fontaine (f)
  • Habsburg = Habsbourg
  • kingdom = royaume (m)
  • kitchen garden = potager (m)
  • mansion = manoir (m) / demeure (f) / hôtel (m)
  • pavillon = pavillon (m)
  • Piazza Navona = Place Navone (f)
  • Poland = Pologne (f)
  • Rome = Rome
  • sculptor = sculpteur (m)
  • square = place (f)
  • Stanisław Leszczyński = Stanislas Leszczynski
  • statue = statue (f)

Where to find place d’Alliance

Check out the website of the Tourist Information Centre for more info about Nancy.


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Discover the Place d'Alliance in Nancy © French Moments


 

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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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