Metz (pronounced “Mess”) is a charming provincial city in the Lorraine region located on the east side of the Moselle River, between Nancy and Luxembourg. Close to three international borders (Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium), Greater Metz has a population of 230,000, and is accessible from Paris by TGV within 1.30 hours.
Metz is famous for its lofty gothic Saint-Etienne cathedral and its German imperial district around the railway station. It takes pride in being a true Garden City, with its trees, flowerbeds and green esplanades. Today, no visitors in the peaceful city would believe how turbulent the history of Metz has been over the centuries, being continually annexed by France and Germany. After the first visit to this seductive French town most people go back again.
- Old Town
- St. Stephen Cathedral
- Place de la Comédie
- Promenade St Symphorien
- Imperial District
- Railway Station
- Musée Pompidou
- Porte des Allemands
Our pages on METZ
Life in Metz
Metz is a typical European medium-sized provincial city where finding a good place to eat is not difficult! There are plenty of cafés with outdoor terraces, restaurants, and salons de thé, without forgetting the lively well-known covered market near the Cathedral which offers local produce, Lorraine cuisine and inventive gourmet dishes. You might want to taste the “pâtés Lorrains”, tourtes and quiches Lorraines, or local Mirabelle plum brandy sweets. The latest pâtisserie to taste is the Paris-Metz…
Place Saint-Jacques is well known by locals for its many cafés and restaurants whose terraces are popular in summer. The square takes its name from a church (Saint-Jacques church) which used to stand here until it was dismantled in 1574.
In Metz, you will find shopping an attractive experience, with a multitude of boutiques and stores inside the pedestrianised and bustling Old Town: stroll along Rue des Clercs, En-Fournirue and Rue Serpenoise to get an idea of what Metz has to offer!
Two museums are worth a visit. Firstly, the Musée de la Cour d’Or, the city’s main museum complex, which houses rich Gallo-Roman and medieval exhibitions, and Fine Arts’ masterpieces.
The second museum, located behind the railway station, is by far the most striking one, which opened its doors in 2010: Centre Pompidou-Metz. The famous Parisian museum of modern arts chose Metz to house its first permanent outpost. The futuristic building by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is the topic of the conservation in the local bistros… the multi-level building, with its elaborate wooden structure covered in a white cloth roof intrigues people… the debate is still on: is its architecture weird or wonderful? In any case, the new branch exhibits the Pompidou collections which have been in storage for some time. No doubt Metz will become a very popular destination for Parisians and other art lovers.
For decades now, Metz has been known in France as the “Green City” (la Ville Verte). Today, it is still one of France’s greenest cities with more than 25 square metres of green space per inhabitant. If you stay more than 3 days in Metz, you will discover kilometres of riverside paths in the greenery or along lakes and river banks of the Moselle and Seille Rivers.
Metz and Lorraine have never been the main destination for English speaking tourists, so you will certainly find yourself off the beaten tourist track when visiting the region. You will probably find people in Metz (called Messins and Messines) particularly friendly and chatty, once you initiate the conversation (preferably in French!)
Metz by night
It is worth staying in Metz overnight that way you get to enjoy the illuminations of its major monuments. The beautiful cathedral, carefully lit at night is visible from far, like a golden crown above the city. In summer, a night stroll along the Moselle River bank is a must. Make sure you don’t forget to walk through Place de la Comédie, located on an island where you can see one of the best sights of Metz’ illuminations: the Cathedral, the opera-theatre and the Temple Neuf.
The Temple Neuf and its surrounding garden become a spectacular sight at night as it is lit with great care, giving this site a mysterious atmosphere from olden times.
Metz recently won the National Grand Prix for Lighting awarded by the National Academy of Street Arts.
Don’t miss the Place d’Armes, encircled by the Cathedral and the Town-Hall. Since 2007 a new lighting system has been implemented, enhancing the city’s self-proclaimed title of “capital of lights”.
The medieval square of Place Saint-Louis and its arcades are also brilliantly illuminated at night. There, the terraces of restaurants overflow well into the square and are often full of patrons in summer.
How to get to Metz
From 2007 it has become very easy to get to Metz from Paris thanks to the new TGV Est-Européen, which takes 1.30 hours from Paris-Gare de l’Est. From London Saint Pancras it is a good 5 hour journey by train with a change in Paris. Metz is also directly linked to Brussels, Frankfurt and Lyon by train.
Metz is also easily reached from Paris by the Autoroute de l’Est (motorway A4), and from Luxembourg and Lyon by the A31.
If you are travelling from Australia or America, the best way to reach Metz is to take a flight either to Paris Charles de Gaulle or Frankfurt am Rhein airports, and take a train from there.
Tourist board of Metz: http://tourisme.metz.fr