For any wanderlust student, the ultimate part of any University degree is the Erasmus exchange trip. This provides the perfect opportunity to explore a new place. You will also get to experience a different culture, boost your CV quality and even get paid to do so. If given the chance to partake in this programme, I beg you grab it with both hands and do not let it slip by! To help you settle in like I did, here is my erasmus guide to Nancy.
In 2017, I travelled to the small and remote city of Nancy, on the eastern border of France. This was part of my fifth and final year at university, my Masters year. It was therefore my last chance to take part in this programme. My initial choices we obviously the classics; Prague, Gdansk, Barcelona , basically anywhere sunny or cheap. Upon assignment however, I was given the choice of the unbeknownst city of Nancy or nothing, which I graciously accepted. This was one of the best decisions of my life, providing memories and friendships that I will never forget.
This guide is for anyone considering taking the leap and choosing Nancy as their Erasmus destination.
In this Erasmus guide to Nancy, I will be discussing each of the following points.
- Food Shopping
- General Tips
My four months in Nancy were spent in the incredibly cheap, student accommodation of Monbois Residence. This residence consists of three buildings; the main reception and accommodation building and two additional accommodation buildings.
The main building is where you will collect mail, purchase wash tokens and speak with the staff. It is the newest of the three buildings and holds the more expensive rooms.
The remaining two buildings are less aesthetically pleasing and look like an old, soviet era, concrete box with windows. Each of the two buildings consisted of four floors of 20 or so rooms. These both had communal kitchens, showers and toilets.
The kitchen on each floor contains 2 hot plates and a sink. This unfortunately means you will be sharing those two hotplates with 20 other people. To make matters worse, when I arrived only the second and fourth floor kitchens were open. Luckily most of the students in these halls seemed too lazy to cook, and I rarely found myself waiting to use the kitchens. The kitchens are only open from 7am till midnight. So bear this in mind when you are considering a midnight munch after the pub!
Showers and toilets
There are 5 showers and 5 toilets on each floor, which I found a bit more luxurious than the kitchen fiasco. The showers work well and there is rarely a fight for them. However, the toilets seem to lack a seat and bog roll.
The rooms themselves are a 9m2 personal den, with a sink, desk, bookshelf, light, wardrobe, chair and the option of a fridge. The bed is comfy enough, however the sheets, blanket and pillow provided are something from a nightmare. Make sure you bring or buy your own!
For the minimalist packer like myself, the cost of regular washing can seriously mount up here. Tokens are on sale in the reception for washing and drying, at €2 each. Both building share one washroom, which contains one washing machine and one tumble drier. The washroom is only open between 7am and 7pm and there is usually a queue to use it. This is why I resorted to washing my clothes by hand in the sink and hanging them to dry in my room. The only items I paid to wash were bedsheets.
If you are so inclined, there are plenty of clothes washing shops dotted around the town that could easily fit a week’s wash in them for roughly the same cost. This just means you need to trek your dirty and then clean clothes back and forth from your room.
My Purchase List
In order to make your room a bit more homely, there are a number of essentials and luxuries that you could either bring or buy. These can be purchased either in the town centre, at the local Lidl or at a shopping centre out of town.
- Bedding (Pillow and cases, Duvet and cover, and bed sheets
- Clothing hangers
- Rope for washing line
- Kitchen equipment – Cups, plates, pots and pans, cutlery, sharp knives, chopping board, Tupperware.
- Extras – Hotplate, kettle, toaster, coffee machine.
Costs and Other Options
The reason I chose Monbois was the proximity to my University building and cheap cost. Here are the cheapest accommodations in the area, check here to see where they sit in the city.
Monbois, situated a 30 minute walk NE of city – €148 standard, €180 with fridge, €275 with fridge and en suite
|Location||30 minute walk NE of city||25 minute walk N of city||25 minute walk S of city|
|Cost/Month||€148 / €180 / €275||€275 / €359 / €427 / €433||€148|
One of the most difficult parts of my move to Nancy locating a suitable shop to buy the considerably large amount of food I am used to eating. This task was not helped by the fact that I was on a tight, student budget. Luckily I managed to find the seemingly secret locations of the cheaper, large supermarkets that are dotted around the city.
Part of the problem with finding cheap food is that, in the city centre, majority of the shops are small highstreet food shops such as Carrefor, Monoprix or 8 ά Huit. These shops were incredibly expensive if you were shopping for anything other than a quick sandwich or some beer.
Also in the city centre are fresh markets, where you can find butcher meat as well as fresh fruit and vegetables. These are a similar price to those you will find at the larger supermarkets, however there is something about market food that just tastes fresher!
The places that I did majority of my shopping were either Lidl or the supermarket Laxou. There are a couple of Lidls dotted around the city, a quick google search will show you where, however the main ones I used were either in the city centre or north-east of the city, near the supermarket.
The Laxou is located an hour walk uphill from the Monbois residence, not very ideal for a quick run to the shops. However, with good timing and a bit of luck, you can complete the entire run (shopping included) on a single bus ticket.
Nancy is a hotspot for bars and nightlife, mostly due to the incredible number of students who reside in this city. During my time here there were a couple of bars that became my regular watering holes, mostly due to their cheap drinks and amazing atmospheres.
My number one bar was the Irish bar, Pub MacCarthy. During the Six Nations rugby tournament, this pub would play all the games on their huge projector screen, and so became the perfect place for a weekend of drinking. Their house lager was the cheapest pint I could find in Nancy, made even better when you purchase a student card from the university centre and get 1 euro off the standard price.
Purchase a student discount card from the University Centre on Place Carnot and get €1 off drinks in Pub MacCarthy.
Other pubs that I liked were: Les Artistes, a ski-chalet themed pub offering happy hour cocktails and a warm atmosphere. There is also Le Phenix, a traditional French pub found on the high street.
Between flat parties and weekends spent day-drinking, I only ventured to a nightclub on a couple of occasions. The first two I went to were both situated in Place Stanislas, Nancy’s main square. Les Caves is a classic underground club, playing the usual dance/chart music and packed with people. L’Arq is an upstairs club playing a similar type of music but with a much more open atmosphere. Another club we went to was the Electric Sheep, playing a very good selection of pop-rock and early 2000’s music.
There are a number of sights to see around the town that are open all year long. The aquarium on the south side of Parc de Pepiniere is free on the first Sunday of the month, and although it is quite small, it still offers a decent day out. The shopping centre in the centre of Nancy offers loads of designer shopping options for a rainy day, as does the main high street.
Parc de Pepiniere has a resident zoo in its centre that comes to life as the spring and summer months approach. The park then comes to life with cafes and restaurants, making it a perfect day out in the sun.
Throughout April the square of Place Carnot comes to life with a travelling fairground. This fair has got to be one of the largest I have ever seen, only second to the Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, London . The buzzing atmosphere and incredibly cheap food made this fair a definite highlight of my time in Nancy.
The four months I lived here provided me with plenty of experience to pass on. This came from both victories and losses throughout my time here. Here are some mistakes I made, so that you don’t do the same.
When it comes to getting around, Nancy’s public transport is ideal for a backpacker or student. Buses run regularly all over the city reliably and on time. For the bus or the tram, you are required to purchase a ticket or multi-use pass. This you can then stamp once you get on the vehicle. The pass is valid for the next hour, after which you must re-stamp it.
Ticket inspectors are either in plain clothes or will be waiting to ambush you upon leaving the vehicle. A handy trick is to have your ticket in your hand and be near a ticket stamper, but only stamp it if you see something suspicious. If you time your journey and plan ahead you can complete an entire, multi-stop shopping trip on one pass by waiting to stamp your ticket.
There are a number of organised events that take place around the universities and with the Erasmus group themselves, however these are not very well organised and require digging around to find. Every Tuesday at Pub MacCarthy there is the Café du Lingue social evening, with Erasmus students from all over the globe come to meet new people and drink.
Around February time there are student elections, which consist of a weeklong party and drinking session. Each University in the area will have special events and socials for you to attend. At these you can get free items such as cups and keyrings and then vote on a new elective. The week ends with a €1 beer night, where you will be able to buy 7+% beers for, you guessed it, €1! This quickly turns messy and is a fantastic night out.
My four months in Nancy are the most unforgettable part of my time at university. I seriously cannot stress enough how important it is that you choose to do Erasmus for yourself. If you love a quaint yet lively town, fancy some cheap wine and beer, and want to meet fantastic and friendly people then Nancy should definitely be on your list! I hope you have found this Erasmus guide to Nancy useful and full of information. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me and I will get back to you ASAP.
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