On our 2010 cruise with Odysseus, one of the highlights was the city of Metz (pronounced “Mess”), the capital city of Lorraine. Probably the only definite about this year’s cruise was a return. About 2 pm on Sunday we pulled into the main marina, the Port de Régates, getting a prime spot with a great view of the old protestant church, the Temple Neuf. As a bonus, the weather would be just about perfect the whole time we were here; sunny, warm days and cool nights. Lots of walkers and runners along the shoreline and, with the electric and paddle boat rental center just up from the boat, we had plenty of entertainment while sitting on the terrace.
Occupied since the Bronze Age, Metz first became an important city under the Gauls and then the Romans as it was at the confluence of two rivers, the Moselle and the Seille. It was sacked by Attila the Hun in 451 but then became the capital city of the Merovingians and one of the most important cities of the Holy Roman Empire with the Carolingians. After integrating into the Kingdom of France after a long siege in 1552, it was traded back and forth between Germany and France in the Franco Prussian War and WW II. Now it features huge green spaces, accounting for almost 15% of the city, and 36 k of riverside walks. Besides the Temple Neuf it’s also home to the Cathedral Saint-Étienne with one of the highest naves in Europe. This time, no scaffolding!
and some beautiful stained glass.
Since it was a little late in the day Sunday for serious sightseeing we made the obligatory visit to the tourist office and made plans for the week. Tim and Christine bought train tickets for their trip to Paris leaving on Thursday and we paid for the dock space until Sunday so there was lots of time for our visit.
Monday we headed off to the Centre Pompidou-Metz, the famous Paris museum’s outpost in the provinces. When we visited in 2010 the museum had only been open for a couple of months and the line an hour and a half to get in. This time we walked right up to the ticket window.
It really is an amazing building made up of three 80 meter long stacked exhibit halls covered by a timber and fabric framework. It was designed by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines.
We were a little disappointed this time because one of the features that most impressed us on our first visit was that the windows at each end of the galleries framed pictures of the city. This time, the exhibitions, “Dumbtype” about a Japanese artists collective, and “Modern Couples” about famous artistic couples, had blocked off the end windows.
What most amazed us, however, was the amount of development around the museum. What were once just big parking lots and open fields are now an array of fancy apartments and shops, many still under construction. When completed, the neighborhood will be quite modern, in contrast with much of the rest of the city.
Tuesday was “Wander About the City” day with an obligatory visit to the Port de Allemands, the most impressive remaining gateway of the medieval ramparts.
Since Wednesday would be Tim and Christine’s last day with us this year, we decided to commemorate the occasion with lunch. Cathy Jo found L’Epicurean and we had a wonderful meal. Both Tuesday and Wednesday Tim and Christine and Cathy Jo and I had gone different routes on our sightseeing but still managed to bump into each other, which resulted in a visit together to the Eglise Ste-Ségoliné.
After Tim and Christine’s departure Thursday morning, we had time for another museum visit, this time the Cour d’Or Museum, built on the site of the ancient Roman baths. The Gallo-Roman and medieval collections are among the most important in France according to the information provided. We were pretty impressed.
Next, Metz at night!