01 February 2010

Day trip to Nancy

Sunday was a delightfully rich day.  After an early Polish Mass at Saint Croix and my first chorale rehearsal for the Easter concert with Kathy, we met Katie and Sarah at the train station to embark on our day trip to Nancy.  

We were off to a rough start.  When Kathy tried to retrieve our tickets she had already paid for online, the ticket machine crashed and with only moments before our train was to leave, we opted to hop on the train and hope for the best.  Luckily, she was able to explain to the conductor when he came to check out tickets, and while he didn't seem all that pleased, he didn't fine us, but rather instructed us to resolve the matter at the train station in Nancy, which we did.  I was so impressed with Kathy's effortless French, and was inspired to be more articulate in my own speech!

About a half an hour by train from Metz, Nancy was the original capital of the Lorraine region until Metz was chosen in the mid 20th century.  When we arrived, I was struck by the architectural differences between the two cities.  While the buildings in Metz are warm and honey colored, the stonework in Nancy is more a mixture of cool grays.  Nancy is known as one of the birthplaces of Art Noveau, and its presence is found all over the city.

Of course, the architectural gem of Nancy (and also a UNESCO World Heritage site) is Place Stanislas, named for its designer, the former Polish King and Duke of Lorraine.  The place is absolutely splendid, linking the city hall, museum of fine arts, opera theater, and a triumphal arch.  The symmetry, the gilded lanterns hanging from the wrought iron gates surrounding the square, the fountains of Neptune and Amphitrite, the sculpture of Stanislas himself, the splendid view of each street that radiates out of the square... I was overcome with the beauty of the stone, gleaming brilliantly white in the sun.  Each graceful gilded arch magically frames an architectural marvel in the distance, no matter what direction you approach from.  I raced about, photographing the square from every angle possible, squealing with delight at each view I encountered.  The other girls laughed at me, and joked that it was easy to find me even as I disappeared to take yet another photo.  They had only to search for my bright turquoise scarf!

After exploring the city on foot and posing for photos, we stopped for pastries at a delightful little patisserie.  While the other girls ordered sensible things like flan and a brownie, I opted for an enormous slice of Tarte aux Myrtilles, topped with heaps of meringue.  Myrtilles are the potent little sister of blueberries, with twice the flavor and twice the staining power.  I had failed to remember my last experience with the berry, which occurred when I visited Hélène's parents in Abreschviller. Consequently, my lips, teeth, and tongue were stained a stylish blue-violet color for much of the afternoon.

Our next destination was the Musée de Beaux-Arts (Museum of Fine Arts.)  There, we enjoyed the collection of paintings from the 15th through 20th centuries, including works by Monet, Rubens, Picasso, Matisse and Modigliani.  The kind museum staff even permitted us to reenter the museum after a coffee break at a nearby café in Place Stanislas.  We conversed about art and France over frothy cappuccino and chocolat chaud topped with clouds of whipped cream before returning to the museum. We spent a good amount of time in the lovely and fascinating museum bookshop, which we admittedly enjoyed more than much of the museum. We gravitated toward books of our favorite artists and movements, every once and awhile sharing them with one another. We never did make it to the Ecole de Nancy, the famous Art Nouveau museum, but we all vowed to return in the future, perhaps when the weather is warmer.

We arrived at the station two hours before our train to Metz was scheduled to leave, and were able to charm our way onto an earlier, more expensive train with our existing tickets.  The conductor replied that he was only granting us this exceptional favor due to our beautiful smiles, and we giggled as we boarded the train.  For all the stately elegance of Nancy, I still feel I much prefer Metz, and was quite happy to be returning to my honey colored city on two rivers, and of course my breathtaking Cathédrale. We chattered happily on our brief ride to Metz, and while the conversation was light, I couldn't help but wonder how I can make this destiny with France more permanent than the length of my contract.

Well synchronized pose in front of 
la Porte de la Craffe

Just outside of Place Stanislas

La Cathédrale

Place Stanislas with a view of  la Cathédrale

Place Stanislas

Place Stanislas

Stanislas, Duke of Lorraine and twice King of Poland

l'Arc Héré

Katie, Kathy, Sarah, and I at Place Stanislas

Fountain of Neptune with icicles

Fountain of Neptune

La Porte de la Craffe

Palais Ducal 

Cathédrale Notre Dame de l'Annonciation de Nancy

Sculpture of Jeanne d'Arc inside la Cathédrale

Inside la Cathédrale

Basilique Saint-Epvre

Parc de la Pépinière

Place de la Carrière

Pastry delights 
(I'm not pictured because my tarte aux myrtilles turned my teeth blue!)

Nancy is the birthplace of mathematician Henri Poincaré. 

1 comment:

  1. Happy 50th Blog Entry, Sweetheart! Keep them coming! I love you.


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