Metz is a charming provincial city in the Lorraine region located on the east side of the Moselle River, between Nancy and Luxembourg. In 2019 it ranked high in 4th place in the European Best Destinations competition. Famous for its stunning Gothic cathedral and its surprising German Imperial District, the town is also known for being the base for the recently-opened Pompidou Centre. Close to three international borders (Germany, Luxembourg and Belgium), the city is accessible from Paris by TGV in 1.20 hours.
Why you should discover Metz
It takes pride in being a true Garden City, with its trees, flowerbeds and green esplanades.
Today, no visitors to the peaceful city would believe how turbulent the town’s history 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.
Places to stay in Metz
When visiting Metz at the invitation of the city’s Tourist Board, I stayed in two different hotels that I found very comfortable and ideally located in the centre of town.
What an amazing location right in the centre of town! The hotel is housed in an old historic building. It has lots of French charm with antique furniture and a lovely flight of stairs (no lift though).
My room’s window opened to a fantastic view of the cathedral. Here is a photo I took easily in the morning when the stained-glass windows were lit up by the rising sun:
Mercure Metz Centre is a comfortable and modern hotel with high-standard rooms. Centrally located between the railway station and the historic town which means I could easily walk to all destinations (Pompidou centre, place Saint-Louis, Cathedral).
Other hotels and accommodations in Metz
Here’s a map that shows other accommodations in town:
A provincial ‘Joie de Vivre’
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 (St. Jacques church) which used to stand here until it was dismantled in 1574.
The shopping experience in the old town
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 the Lorraine city 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 old municipal grain store of Chèvremont is a must-to-see!
The second cultural place is actually not a museum! Located behind the railway station, is by far the most striking contemporary cultural place in Lorraine, which opened its doors in 2010: Centre Pompidou-Metz.
The famous Parisian centre of modern arts chose Metz to house its first permanent outpost. The futuristic building by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban is the topic of 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.
The Garden City
For decades now, Metz has been known in France as the “Garden 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 town, you will discover kilometres of riverside paths in the greenery or along lakes and riverbanks of the Moselle and Seille Rivers.
Metz and Lorraine may never have been the main destination for English-speaking tourists. The good thing with that is that you will certainly find yourself off the beaten tourist track.
You will probably find the locals (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 Gothic cathedral, carefully lit at night is visible from far, like a golden crown above the city. In summer, a night stroll along the Moselle riverbank 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 the 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.
The town 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.
Metz Christmas Market
Over the years the Metz Christmas Market has become one of France’s greatest festive events alongside Paris and Strasbourg.
The Lorraine town boasts several markets spread out across the old town.
How to get to Metz
It is very easy to get to Metz from Paris thanks to the TGV Est-Européen, which takes 1.20 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. The city 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, Frankfurt am Rhein or Luxembourg airports, and take a train from there.
Find out more about Metz
- All our 100% French-written articles about Metz on the Mon Grand-Est blog
- The city’s Tourist board
- The Lorraine region Tourist Board
- Get your ticket to the Pompidou Centre in Metz