Visiting Nancy, France Through Cafés

Can you believe that I’ve officially been in France for 200 days?! I can’t. It feels like it was just yesterday when I was struggling to order a sandwich at my first boulangerie.

In honor of my 200th day in France, I thought I would take you on a double-whammy blog/vlog tour of some of my favorite cafés in Nancy. What better way to get to know a French city than through its cafés!

For those of you who don’t already know, cafés are not the same as American coffee shops. The coffees are small, wifi is usually lacking, and people insist on sitting outside no matter the weather. The most important thing to remember about the café-going experience is that it’s about the whole package, not just the beverage.

So, here are my suggestions of five different cafés organized by ambiance and experience.

1. For a Late Night Hang

L’Ambassy – 63 Rue Stanislas, 54000 Nancy

This café is easy to miss if you walk too quickly past the train station. It is hidden away in a corner and is pretty inconspicuous. Once you enter, you’ll find that it’s larger than it looks from the outside. The dim lighting, scattered tables, and mix-matched couches and armchairs give the café a relaxed vibe. It’s the type of place you can settle in for a long hangout session. From what I’ve seen, the crowd is generally university-aged students. This might be because there’s usually music videos or a sports game playing on the TV screens or because it’s open until 2AM and young people are looking for a place to chill late into the night.

2. For Serious French Vibes

Le Pinocchio – 9 Place Saint-Epvre, 54000 Nancy

Situated in the heart of old town, Le Pinocchio is one of the more popular cafés in Nancy. It’s definitely a bit more posh than L’Ambassy by virtue of its location. There always seems to be a healthy crowd whenever I pass by and I understand why. Whether I’m sitting outside on the terrace looking up at the Basilica Saint-Epvre just across the way, or inside appreciating the upscale-eclectic decorations, this café always makes me feel like yes, I am indeed in France. And in a country where everything closes down on Sundays, this café gives you place to go on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Grab a pastry from the boulangerie next door and you’re all set for a great café-going experience.

3. For Bringing Your Out-of-Town Friends

Café des Artistes – 36 Rue Stanislas, 54000 Nancy

Whenever I’m hanging out with friends in Nancy, we somehow always end up at Les Artistes. I can’t quite figure out why, but I’ll just go with it. It probably has something to do with the squishy couches and funky old skis that are used as decor. They remind me of my home state of Utah. The café is a stone’s throw away from Nancy’s crowning touristic jewel, Place Stanislas. This makes it a great place to take a break after walking around town. The top floor has a several nice alcoves which makes it perfect for chatting with a small to medium sized group of friends or just people watching in general. I’ve noticed that this café is also popular among the younger crowd.

4. For Getting Your Coffee To-Go

Kensington Coffee – 12 Rue de la Faïencerie, 54000 Nancy

Getting coffee to-go is not generally a thing you do in France. Here you sit and drink your drink from a real glass before going to your next thing. From an ecological standpoint, that’s probably a good thing. Thinking about the amount of disposable cups that get thrown away in America is frightening. However, if you really find yourself wanting to enjoy your drink somewhere other than a café (and you’re not in the mood for a McDonald’s drink), you can make your way over the Kensington Coffee where drinks are served à la americaine.

5.  For Working on Your Laptop

La Taverne du Livre – 11 Rue des 4 Églises, 54000 Nancy

One of the things that I found myself missing the most about the US is the concept of the coffee shop/bookstore/work space. Cafés in France are considered more for socializing or for quietly reading a book and newspaper. They can’t really be seen as the equivalent of an American coffee shop where you can buy coffee in mass quantities in order to sustain a workaholic lifestyle. When I came across La Taverne du Livre, I was stoked to find that I could buy a drink and take advantage of free wifi. Don’t get me wrong, it’s still 100% a French café, but it’s equipped with wifi and outlets. Think Barnes and Noble/Starbucks, but less mainstream capitalist and the option to buy pâté lorrain.

To see more, check out my vlog:

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