Sunday, December 05, 2021

Le Fete de Saint Nicolas, Nancy Part 1


I’ve visited Nancy twice before, but never for their famous celebration of Saint Nicolas. 

Yesterday I got my wish and went for the day with a group as guests of the Nancy Tourist office. The office is located at the entrance of the square and could not be more helpful, even walking me to the door, sending me in the right direction to find one of the 20 (!) marchés de Noël!

The day began drizzly and bleak, but cleared up beautifully later on.

An official guide greeted us and shared in detail the history of the Dukes of Lorraine, especially renown Duke Stanislas and the glorious 18th century architecture of the Square. 

You see this banner all over Nancy. Saint Nicolas in the mitered hat, 3 children and uh oh…the butcher. 

Three lost children were in the woods. They find a butcher’s shop. He takes them in, gives them dinner and they go to sleep. And then…he cuts them up and puts them in a barrel of salt😬 

Saint Nicolas comes along looking for the 3 children. He finds them and turns them back into living children. Miracles can happen. The butcher does not come out of this story well but I forget the rest😊 i.e.Saint Nicolas becomes the protector of all children. 

During the fete you can literally eat as much Saint Nicolas + 3 children (in chocolate or pain d’epice) all you want.

A ‘morsel’ of Saint Nicolas resides in a reliquary in one of Nancy’s churches. Time for a break from French history. 

How I lost my group: all of my group happily went off to ride the ferris wheel. No way José. I waited around at the oomp-pah band and then town hall. Then I went off to find some lunch. 
ALERT*Important Weekend lunch info that applies to all France. If you do not have a lunch reservation on the weekend, you will literally be left out in the cold. Which is better than starving. Fully booked cafes along  Place Stanislas offer warm blankets outside but no heating units. Another plus - you get to see comings and goings of passerbys with their umbrellas wrapped in your snug rug, while eating your hot food (I had truffled scallops at lé Cafe du Commerce).

After lunch, I crossed the street to the Musee des Beaux Arts. Their basement level contains the magnificent Daum Collection, 600 pieces of stunning glass which requires another post. 

We were all supposed to meetup at the house of macarons at 2:30. This place has a permanent line and rightly so.

Lost again, but what delectable regional candies and cakes to distract me. I ate all my goodies by this morning. You would have too. More tales of wonder and delights in Nancy to follow in part2. Thank you for reading Parisbreakfast. If you'd like to receive Parisbreakfast letters, maps and watercolors in your mailbox📮 look in my Etsy shop. Bonne Dimanche PBers 🎄❤️💋🐻🎄


  1. Nancy, like all cities in France, looks so interesting and so beautiful during this St. Nicholas festival.

  2. Ahh…it truly is. They all seem bent on outdoing each other. Nancy has particularly big open spaces perfect for lights and festive parades.

  3. What a lovely tour you had! I got lost once in Isle sur la Sorgue...Not sure I love that story about the butcher, but glad St Nicholas came along!

  4. PS I left you some replies to your comments on my blog...on the food post too...

  5. Love your tour photos and your witty content! I never knew that story of St. Nicholas. Sounds like you are making the rounds of France on these lovely tours...divine idea.

  6. I had never heard of Nancy so as usual your posts cause me to research. I learned about St. Nicholas but not about the interesting tale of the butcher and three children. Charming looking town especially the huge square. I get your feelings about the Ferris wheel. I took my first ride on one a couple of summers ago & only because my grandsons begged me…
    Unlike your trip to Annecy, I didn’t see a single navy puffer jacket.🎄

  7. KimK I would love to make the rounds of France❤️ At least one new place every month would be ideal.
    Rita, I know…what a grim story! But fairy tales often have a macabre edge to them. Somehow a wolf eating grandma isn’t so bad though…

  8. Carol, Nancy is wonderful. I was there in the summer when they do amazing light shows on the square. The Daum collection is just beyond magnificent. You captured so much of the spirit and delicious flavors of the city. The story of St. Nicholas puts it over the top!

  9. That’s very kind of you La Dame aux Camillias,
    I have never been in Nancy at night time. It is spectacular!

    Ga from Dekalb,
    Many visitors to Paris don’t know about Nancy. Its a hidden treasure just an 1 1/2 hrs train ride away.
    Sharp eyes! No one was wearing little navy jackets. It was too cold. 30 degrees and maybe less at night.

  10. Nancy looks beautifully festive for the holidays…so much to see and do…and such yummy treats! Those old tales can be grim (like the brothers of fairy tale fame), but very effective in keeping the kiddos out of the forest! Glad you had such a fun Saturday, Carol.

  11. This looks like the most wonderful day, Carol. I've always wanted to hit the markets. Lovely!

  12. Sybille7:50 PM

    We were in Strasbourg during the Christmas market and found the same thing. You had to have a reservation if you wanted to eat in a restaurant and it was during the week.

  13. It’s interesting…unlike the US where you don’t always need to plan ahead. In France, many small restaurants can only provide so many dinners. So they have to make sure they will be fully booked. Like boulangeries have only so many viennoisseries. Once they sell out, they don’t make any more until the next day.
    C’est comme ça.

  14. Such interesting information! I do believe we went to Nancy together but the butcher and the children is all new to me😀 (or did I just forget?!). You got lost Hahahahahaha Face it… are too independent to stay with a group!

  15. Ah…Carolyn :))
    You have my number :)) You know me too well.
    Yes we went to Nancy and wore ourselves out looking at all the Art Nouveau artifacts etc.
    The Saint Nicolas story is strictly a Christmas thing. I had no clue previously…

  16. Empress E.2:37 PM

    Delightful report, just right for today, St Nicholas day, with Nancy # 2 coming up.


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