CONTRIBUTED BY LINDA MENCH
Our first excursion to France in search of WWII battlegrounds led us to Metz, France. Little did we know we would discover a gem of a city with over 1400 years of turbulent history! From Call of Duty video games, we were interested to see what history we might discover in the alt Staat. Thinking about the battles that occurred here during WWII in the narrow streets was humbling.
We did a lot of walking: with older children and so many awesome things to see we didn’t mind! The tourism office was right next to Metz Cathedral and had English speaking guides –get the city walking tour pamphlet and follow one of the tours: they are marked on the sidewalk all thru out the city! Sadly, we didn’t know this BEFORE we started walking everywhere. But, you never know what you’ll find around the corner when you don’t really have a plan!
We were starving by 14:00, but discovered that is not a good time to find an open restaurant! “Désolé, nous sommes fermés.” (Sorry, we are closed). So, we found a street vendor and thanks to our son’s French lessons, he ordered for us!
A few more turns thru the streets and we stumbled upon St. Jacques Square. It’s central fountain, an homage to the Virgin Mary, is the site of wonderful farmer & antique markets in the spring.
Another path led us to a beautiful church ruin. Discovered during a rebuilding project in the 1970s –the ruins were named after the Roman officer, St Livier was martyed in 451. During the French Revolution (1791) the parish was abolished and abandoned. St Livier’s Church dates from the 8th Century –only the narthex and part of the nave remain.
Temple Neuf (protestant) was built by the Germans 1901-1909 in grey stone to symbolize the German style as an intended a break from “excessively French” gold limestone. This region of France has gone back and forth between the 2 countries for many hundreds of years!
Metz Cathedral: In AD 280 St Clement brought Christianity to Metz amidst Roman ruins. After Metz was attacked by Atila the Hun in 451, the church moved to its current location. In the 1220’s the core structure of the cathedral was begun. I’m not sure what happened next but it took from 1359-1520 for the building to be constructed…its claim to fame: 3rd highest Nave in France = 137 feet.
The 70,000 sq feet of stained glass in the cathedral is the largest surface area of windows in France. It dates from 13th to 20th centuries and includes work by Russian artist Marc Chagall.
If you go there: Remember to bring Euro change to get your car through the tolls: €4.30 as of January 2013 each way to and from the German border!
Best parking for the walking tours is the city garage on the boulevard André Maginot by the Porte des Allemands or garage on rampart Saint Thiébault near Place St-Thiébault (easy walk to the Esplanade and Place de la République.)
Metz Tourist Office:
2, Place d’Armes – BP 80367
57007 Metz cedex 1 FRANCE
Open every day of the week.
Monday to Saturday: 0900 – 1900
Sunday and public holidays:
April to September: 1000 – 1700
October to March: 1000 – 1500
Rue du Pont Saint Marcel, Metz 57000 – France
3 Place Cathédrale, Metz
Note: Linda originally posted this article on her site, but has graciously shared it with us here as well.