International Interviews: the student city of Nancy

Heidi-Faye Bates interviews French ERASMUS student, Lisa, about the traditional French student city, Nancy.

Heidi-Faye Bates
12th November 2019
With over 5,000 international students from more than 120 countries studying at Newcastle, our exchange students are an important part of the university community. Over the coming weeks we will be getting to know some of them, finding out about the intriguing far flung corners of the world they have come from and what has attracted them to our beloved Toon. Looking for some holiday inspiration or a place to study abroad? Our international students have the answers for you. 

The first stop on this international tour isn’t too far across the water, to the traditional French student city of Nancy. Erasmus student Lisa, studying Business, English and German, gave me an insight into the historic medieval city which proudly boasts a stunning UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Place Stanislas. Situated 96 miles from the fairy-tale city of Strasbourg in the north-eastern department of Meurthe-et-Moselle, Nancy is a major French university centre and its abundance of bars and restaurants caters perfectly for its 47,000 students, giving the city a vibrant atmosphere and a great place to spend an exchange programme. 

Lisa described Nancy as a real depiction of a northern French city, which offers both the quaintness of the picturesque oldtown with narrow streets and medieval facades, and the modernity of a working city such as the shopping centre of San Sebastian. Typically smaller and less touristy than its rival university cities, the cost of living is significantly lower with cheaper rent and a good glass of wine for 4 euros, (no trebs I’m afraid). No matter where you go, there’s always an Irish bar for some evening entertainment, and Nancy is no exception to the rule as Lisa told me her favourite was Pub Mac Carthy. Aside from its wealth of bars, let’s not forget what the French are famous for, their cuisine. Nancy is known for its delicately delicious macarons, tangy translucent bergamontes (sweets) and the traditional Quiche Lorraine which you must try. 

Lisa recommends visiting around Christmas time, not only to experience its festive markets in Place Charles III, but also to take part in the traditional Fêtes de Saint-Nicolas.

If you’re looking to spend a weekend in the city, make sure to visit La Porte de la Craffe, a 14th century gate marking the edge of the Vieille Ville, with two towers that give it that postcard fairy-tale castle look. Admire the beautiful 18th century architecture of the Place Stanislas with its own version of the Arc de Triomphe, whilst drinking fresh coffee in one of the many cafes around the square or watch it be illuminated in the daily light show during the summer months. Finally, take a relaxed stroll around the 50-acre Parc de la Pépinière, home to a small zoo and open-air auditorium. Whilst Nancy is not known for its excessive temperatures, Lisa recommends visiting around Christmas time, not only to experience its festive markets in Place Charles III, but also to take part in the traditional Fêtes de Saint-Nicolas, (usually the first weekend in December). The festivities begin on the Friday evening with the illumination of the Christmas tree and continue throughout the weekend as street performers and parades line the streets.

When asked what Lisa makes of Newcastle, she told me she had only just scratched the surface and didn’t have a favourite place yet but enjoys her morning walk to Uni through Leazes Park. One thing she has noticed between French and English student life is that the parties start much earlier here as normally she is used to going out after midnight. I guess we like to leave time for more merriment?

Unfortunately, Nancy isn’t the easiest of places to get to as it doesn’t have an airport and Lisa had to fly from Luxemburg to Edinburgh. Nevertheless, why not make Nancy a stop on a Tour de France as it has excellent train links from Paris? Or even contact your School’s Exchange Coordinator to see if there is a study abroad programme for your course

Are you an international student wanting to put your city on the Newcastle University map? Please get in contact with the travel team at if you’d like to see your home city appear in next weeks edition of the Courier.  

Feature Image Credits: Parsifall from Wikicommons (CC BY-SA 3.0) (no changes made)

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