Metz Things to Do

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    Place St-Louis

    by leics Updated Mar 2, 2013

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    This is one of old town Metz's vast squares, and one which I really liked even though it was pretty much deserted on that cold February Thursday. With almost all its buildings created from the local, honey-coloured Jaumont stone it must be a beautiful place on a sunny day.

    The square dates from the 14th-16th centuries and has been recently renovated. The long rows of buttressed houses on its western side lie along the line of the original Roman town ramparts.

    In the Middle Ages the square was home to the local money-changers (and no doubt money-lenders as well). Many of the financiers came from Italy during the 1300s and the rather lovely arcades which are incorporated into the buildings show that Italian architectural influence. I'm not sure of the meaning of the open hand on one of the buildings, but I'd guess it has something to do with money changing or lending........

    Make sure you look at the house wall on the corner of Rue Tete d'Or (named after a hotel). It has only opened into the Place St-Louis since the late 1700s and during the works to make that opening three ancient (Roman) heads were discovered and are now fixed into the wall.

    Nowadays there are cafes, restaurants and small shops where once the money-changers drove their bargains, and fairs and markets. The square makes a very pleasant place to stroll (out of the sun in the arcades) or to sit with a coffee and watch the world go by....but not when the temperature is -3!

    Arcade and buttresses Three ?Roman? heads The open hand. Under the arcades. Dating from the 1400s.
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    Ile de la Comedie/Ile du Petit-Saulcy

    by leics Updated Mar 2, 2013

    The tiny Ile de la Comedie/Petit-Saulcy island lies in the middle of the river Moselle, which runs along one side of the old town.

    Along with several other small islands it is connected to the rest of the city by bridges and is a most pleasant place to stroll (in better weather than I had, of course!). The classically-laid-out Place de la Comedie dates from the 1700s and is the site of the oldest theatre in France which still functions as a theatre/opera house.

    The magnificent church on the island is not so old: Temple Neuf de Metz was built during the first German annexation. It is neo-Romanesque in style and dates from around 1904.

    There are good views of the old town from this tiny island and, apparently, especially lovely ones during the evening when the lights of the city are reflected in the river. But I wasn't there at that time, so can neither confirm nor deny that claim. :-)

    Temple Neuf on its island Old town view Looking back towards Temple Neuf Old town view 2
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    Place d'Armes and the Liberation Monument.

    by leics Written Mar 2, 2013

    This broad expanse of paved space, lying between the Cathedral de Saint-Etienne and the Hotel de Ville (town hall) is a classic piece of mid-to-late 1700s town planning, designed by one Jean Francois Blondel.

    In earlier times the square was the site of a monastery, the bishops' palace and more than one church. These earlier buildings were gradually removed as the square took on its present appearance.

    It's certainly a vast area, a focal point for the town's bus services (there are several different stops around the square) and home to the rather magnificent Second World War Liberation Monument, sculpted from the honey-yellow local Jaumont stone and standing in recognition of the date when US troops, led by General Walton H. Walker, liberated Metz from German occupation: November 22nd 1944.

    The monument text reads:

    >Le 22 novembre 1944
    En ces lieux, le general Walker commandant le XXeme Corps D’armee de la troisième armee Americaine du General Patton, remit aux autorites Francaises la villa de Metz liberee par ses troupes.

    J’espere et je crois que la ville de Metz sera a jamais le symbole des relations amicales qui ont toujours existe entre nos deux pays - Walton H. Walker.

    >November 22, 1944
    In this place General Walker, in command of the 20th Corps of the Third American army of General Patton, transferre the town of Metz,liberated by his troops, to the French authorities.

    'I hope and I believe that the city of Metz is ever the symbol of the friendly relations which have always existed between our two countries' - Walton H. Walker.

    Although it may look rather clumsy, I was quite impressed by that monument. Its size fitted the size of the Place d'Armes: anything smaller would be lost.

    Place d'Armes Liberation Monument (and bus stop!)
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    Just wander around and enjoy the architecture...

    by leics Written Mar 2, 2013

    Whether it is the Art Nouveau 'Ville Allemande' or the far older historical centre of Metz, the city is a most pleasant place to wander.

    I don't know whether I happened to visit on a particularly quiet day; perhaps Metz is much busier in season (does it have a tourist season, I wonder?) or perhaps it has an effective system for channeling through traffic around its outskirts. I found the lack of traffic and crowds in the centre of the town very pleasant indeed and it means you can really taketime to enjoy the different types of architecture.

    I noticed lots of small bar/cafes dotted about. I didn't get the feeling these were in any way aimed at visitors: I think Metz caters largely for itself, and that's very good indeed.

    It was far too cold for me to explore much of the historical heart of the city, but I'm sure you can walk along the line of what remains of its walls. I think that would be a very pleasant way to spend a sunny afternoon.

    Lots to explore and enjoy......

    Sainte-Croix street What once was.. What once was 2 Small details..... Ville Allemand street
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    St. Etienne (St-Stephen) Cathedral

    by Kuznetsov_Sergey Updated Feb 14, 2012

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    Built between 1220 and 1520 in the ochre stone of Jaumont which characterizes the majority of the buildings of Metz, the imposing silhouette of St-Stephen cathedral dominates the city and contains splendid stained-glass windows realized by famous artists.

    With its 6,500 m2 surface of windows, it is the most luminous cathedral in France. Sculptural and mysterious, masterpiece of the Gothic world, the cathedral has a magic atmosphere and tells us old legends.

    You can watch my 2 min 40 sec Video Metz out of my Youtube channel.

    Metz - St. Etienne (St-Stephen) Cathedral
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    City ramparts along the Seille

    by Airpunk Written Nov 30, 2011

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    During the Middle Ages, the city of Metz built a large number of structures in order to defend the city. The medieval ramparts, mostly dating from the 13 th to 15 th century, once encircled the whole city. Today, only few parts of it remain preserved, mostly in the Northeastern corner of the city along the Seille and Moselle rivers. Over a dozen wall towers and gate towers remainpreserved. Most of them were maintained and staffed by the city's craft guilds and bear their names. That includes the Tour des Tailleurs (tailor's tower), the Porte en Chandellerue (chandler's gate) and many more following the same scheme.
    Two larger lines of walls and towers remain: One at the confluence of Seille and Moselle with the large Devil's Tower directly at the confluence (no idea which guild was responsible for that one...). The other line is along the river Seille, just north of the famous Porte des Allemands (Germans' gate, see separate tip).
    There are walking paths along the walls as well as paths on the opposite side of the Seille. The latter mentioned offer you a panoramic sight of the walls and towers. However, there are many trees and bushes on the right bank of the Seille, so that there are only a few spots from which you can enjoy a really good view. On the right bank of the Seille, you will also find the more modern structures left by Vauban in the 17 th century. A map with some explanations in French can be downloaded from the following site.

    Tour des Esprits - Ghost tower Tour des Esprits and defence line The Seille
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    Rue des Murs

    by Airpunk Written Nov 30, 2011

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    The Rue des Murs is not only a popular hangout place for the kids of the neighbouring school. It offers you also a good view of eastern part of the city. Note the small new amphiteatre in the park below which is often used for modern events.

    View from Rue des Murs park and amphiteatre

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    Sainte Ségolène

    by Airpunk Written Nov 26, 2011

    Sainte Ségolène is a 13th century Gothic church, with predecessor buildings dating back to the year 912. The church was however heavily restored in modified in the 19th century which gave it a pure Neogothic appearance. In the church, you will find many examples of late medieval art as well as a large mosaic of the Archangel Michael.

    Eglise Sainte S��gol��ne
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    Frac Lorraine and Hotel Saint Livier

    by Airpunk Written Nov 26, 2011

    Frac Lorraine is an organisation of artists with an own interactive space and exhibitions. They are open for visitors during the day. However, I didn't visit any of the exhibitions, but just went past and noticed some old buildings on their grounds, most notably a tower showing the coordinates (49° N 6°E) of this place. These buildings belong to the former Hotel Livier, a 12th century palace which is the oldest secular building in Metz. The tower was used as a defence tower and there was once a similar one on the opposite corner of this building complex. The coordinates were also taken over as a new official name for the building.

    Hotel Saint-Livier Hotel Saint-Livier
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    Cloitre des Recollets

    by Airpunk Written Nov 26, 2011

    The Cloitre des Recollets is a former monastery of a Franciscan order which was built in the 12th century. In 1602, the order of the “Recollets” took over the monastery. Most buildings date from their time as well as the current name. Despite that, their time was relative short as it was dissolved during the French Revolution in the late 18th century. In 1791, an army corps was stationed here and in 1804, the church and one of the galleries in the cloister were demolished. After that, it was used as an orphanage. In 1972, the monastery was declared a national monument (Monument Historique) and the European Institute of Ecology moved in. Metz' city archives also have found a new home here.
    Unless you have something to do with those institutions, you can not visit the buildings from inside. However, the cloister is open and from there, you will get an idea how the place looked like in past centuries.

    Cloitre des Recollets
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    Chapelle Saint-Genest and Maison de Rabelais

    by Airpunk Written Nov 25, 2011

    This 12th century chapel was built by the Maltese order and is more famouns for its adjoining building. It is known as the maison de Rabelais, the place where the French author lived between 1545 and 1547. Much of the building has not been preserved, however, it is the last half-timbered building in Metz' old town. Occassional expositions take place here.

    The Chapelle Saint-Genest de Metz remained in the property of the Maltese order right until the French revolution. In 1929, it became a national monument. The café Matisse in the courtyard belonging to both buildings is a good place for a small break in the historic Sainte-Croix district of Metz' old town.

    Chapelle Saint-Genest de Metz
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    Place Sainte Croix

    by Airpunk Written Nov 25, 2011

    This little square in the old town is considered to be the highes spot in Metz. Here, you will find a couple of buildings from the past centuries, including the "Hotel de la Bulette" which still has its 13th century gothic windows. The fountain of the square looks like it hasn't been used for ages. It once had figures of Christ and some apostles, which were destroyed during the French revolution.

    Place Sainte Croix - Fountain
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    Water Tower - Chateau D'Eau

    by Airpunk Written Nov 25, 2011

    The water tower was erected to supply the steam engines with water. Therefore, it was built close to the train station in 1908, simultaneously to it. Like the train station, the water tower did not have only a functional aspect. Its style and its material were chosen to represent a symbol of “Germanisation” in Metz. Today, the water tower is not used anymore and the City of Metz still has not found a new function for the building.

    Water Tower - Chateau D'Eau
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    Eglise St. Pierre aux Nonnains

    by Airpunk Updated Nov 20, 2011

    This church built during the times of Emperor Constantine in 310. As no other French church of this time survived the centuries (including the destruction of many churches during Hun attacks in the 7 th century), this church is regarded as the oldest surviving in France. A monastery was constructed next to the church in the 15 th century, but this was dissolved and fell into disrepair. From 1556, it became part of the Citadelle and was used by the military. The church was desecrated in the 19 th century in the German era (and used for messenger pigeons). In 1946, it was abandoned by the military. Today, it is used as an exhibition and concert hall. Parts of the early medieval church can be seen in the Cour D’or Museum.

    Eglise St. Pierre aux Nonnains Eglise St. Pierre aux Nonnains Ruins of the monastery Ruins of the monastery
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    Porte des Allemands

    by Airpunk Written Nov 20, 2011

    German Gate is the translation for this majestic city gate. Although it faces Germany, that is not the reason for its name. That comes from a former hospital of the Teutonic Knights which was situated next to the gate. The two round towers on the city side of the Seille are from the 13 th century. The rest – including the gun bastions – dates from the 15 th century when the gatehouse was expanded to span both sides of the Seille. When Vauban rebuilt the city’s defence structures in 1674, the gatehouse was incorporated into the new city walls. A smaller gatehouse, built next to it during this period, did not survive the centuries. In the 19 th century, it was largely refurbished. Ironically, this was exactly during the short period when the city was part of Germany. Today it has almost no function, just the one as a bridge over the Seille.

    Sometimes, you might think that it is a fortress, but indeed it is just an impressive gatehouse.

    Porte des Allemands Porte des Allemands Porte des Allemands Porte des Allemands Porte des Allemands
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