Metz: 365 days of travel and culture

Has this ever happened to you? You arrive somewhere and immediately you feel you want to live there. That is exactly what happened to us in Metz, a lovely city in the East of France. It is sure to entrance you, as it did us, with its lifestyle, joyfulness and at the same time tranquillity, and its commitment to the environment, society, sport and culture. Just wait till you discover the charms of its cuisine, yet what you will love above all else will be its attitude and its people.

The German heritage

Metz has not always been a French city. It has close links with Germany, as it was twice annexed to that country (in 1871 and 1940), a fact reflected in the changes made to the town. The Germans built a double ring of fortifications, destroyed the ancient walls that were no longer useful and created the "new city" around a new railway station. This is now known as the Station district or the Imperial district, through which you have to pass to go to the Centre Pompidou or the Muse shopping mall. Today it is the site of eclectic mansions with picturesque charm: buildings with a maximum of three storeys, mainly of pink granite, and with a wealth of decoration (statues, bas-reliefs, signs and shopfronts), symbolising the omnipotence of the German Empire.

Location: 1 Place du Général de Gaulle

An in-depth tour

There is a lot to see and do in Metz, so we recommend you set aside several days to enjoy every aspect of it at your leisure. If you are short of time, Metz is one of those cities you can keep going back to, finding something new on every visit. Explore the museums, from the small to the major well-known ones, restaurants both new and well-established, reopened churches, small exhibitions and cultural spaces beyond the reach of the newcomer on their travels. Flirt with the city in the Outre Seille district, home of a modest and welcoming art gallery, La Conserverie, where you can observe the idiosyncrasies of the locals. Then continue past the Germans’ Gate, where you can learn about the German cultural heritage and take some good photos. Finish up at the Church of Saint Maximin, one of the most iconic religious buildings of the city, along with the Cathedral.

Location: 8 Rue de la Petite Boucherie, Boulevard André Maginot, 61 Rue Mazelle

Music at the Arsenal

With time to enjoy some great experiences, what better than a night at the opera at the famous Arsenal, a place specially dedicated to classical and artistic music with wide international recognition as one of the most beautiful concert halls in the world. We had the privilege to attend a performance by Karina Gauvin, a Canadian soprano who has recorded more than thirty records and won many prizes, although there are almost two hundred events over the whole of the season. We suggest you also take a walk around the outside to admire the various gardens and other attractions in the area.

Location: 3 Avenue Ney

The best of modern and contemporary art

The Pompidou Centre in Paris, which contains some 100,000 works of art, one of the most complete collections of modern and contemporary art in the world along with the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York and the Tate Modern in London, has two other centres: Metz, opened in 2010, and Malaga in Spain, opened in 2015. This is no doubt a great opportunity to look at some of the most important temporary collections of the time, such as that of Rebecca Horn, Lee Ufan or The Adventure of Colour. The building’s exterior is also put to good use as it resembles a most original type of Chinese hat.

Location: 1 Parvis des Droits de l'Homme

The secrets of the Cathedral

Since antiquity Metz has been one of the most special cities in Europe: situated at the confluence of the Moselle and Seille rivers and numerous tributaries, with an exceptional heritage of monuments highlighted by the golden sheen of Jaumont stone, it is attractive for its natural resources, culture and architecture. One of its most precious jewels is the Gothic Cathedral of Saint Etienne, which took three hundred years to build, from 1220 to 1522. It is known as "God’s lantern" because of its spectacular stained glass windows. You will see a succession of these through every century, produced by renowned artists, craftsmen and master glass workers such as Herman Munster, Thiebault de Lixheim, Valentín Bousch, Jacques Villon and Marc Chagall. The twenty-first century one does not yet have an opening, but it will have in 2020, the 800th anniversary of this religious building. Don’t miss the surroundings of Sainte-Croix hill, one of the most beautiful locations in this great city, and the Museum of the Cour d'Or for an appreciation of Classical history and art from Roman times.

Location: Place d'Armes

FRAC, a place for sensations

Another of the cultural sites you must not miss is the Regional Fund for Contemporary Art (FRAC), whose stated aim is to be a platform for reflection in the East of France, where it invites committed artists. The FRAC is right in the centre of Metz, in the Hotel St-Livier, one of the oldest buildings in the city (end of twelfth century), and is run jointly with the Fragment Association, the Conservatory of Regional Resonance, Paul Verlaine University, the multimedia libraries and other cultural associations. The exterior of the building is surrounded by a really interesting garden full of medicinal plants.

Location: 49 Nord 6 Est

A cultural and very green city

With the Metz tourist train you can tour the capital of the Department of Lorraine in a fun way, a journey that will enable you to admire the monuments of the old town centre, the parks and flowers and the new districts with modern buildings, so you can get an overall idea of this French city before you stop and examine it in detail. We recommend you look at the islands and canals and stroll the paths along their banks which are up to 40 kilometres in total length.

Location: Place d'Armes

The island for gourmets

The gastronomic culture of Metz is also outstanding and you must try some of its typical products such as quiche lorraine (made of bacon, eggs and cream, encased in a puff pastry shell), Lorraine stew, Lorraine pasties, bacon soup in winter, snail stew, smoked Lorraine charcuterie, Moselle wine and yellow plum brandy. A good place to sample these is the restaurant El Teatris, in an unparalleled location on the island of the Place de la Comédie, with magnificent views of the opera, Metz theatre and the Temple Neuf (New Protestant Church). One of its star dishes is the risotto with squid in their ink. Delicious!

Location: 2 Place de la Comédie