The Moselle River (known as the Mosel in Germany) was the scene of some of the best wine country and tourist hamlets in western Europe. But it also hosted some important industrial cities, one of which was Metz, a 3000-year old city in the Lorraine section of France. Since her beginnings in Roman times, Metz has always held a place of importance, but it was her charm and beauty -- graced with the presence of the Moselle -- that attracted so many modern-day visitors. I went there twice, one of those trips we went together. We found Metz to be beautiful with its old world charm and lots and lots of flowers... and some of the best choucroute and red wine available cheap.
Metz was a very large city in area, but well spread around a wide river bed and several natural reservoirs. There were no skyscrapers in the city center, not even too many tall buildings. That allowed Metz's landmarks to stand out, such as the city's famous Roman Catholic cathedral, shown in the second photograph, that towered over the Old Town along the river. During my first stay in Metz, I had the opportunity to have the full view of the Cathedral from my hotel window directly across the Moselle, although the mist and fog were heavy at night and in the morning. While the exterior was impressive with its yellowish stone and decorative spikes, the inside was simple gray stone without a lot of decoration. I presumed that was because Metz had experienced more than its share of warfare due to its location close to Germany.
The other major landmark that stood out is shown twice from two different angles in the first and third photographs. It was the Temple Nine, a Protestant Church that was made in the same style as the Gross St. Martin in Köln, Germany. This church occupied an island in the center of the Moselle River, connected by the bridges shown to both banks. The first photograph shows it from upriver at one end of yet another bridge. The third photograph shows it from downriver, taken from one of the many fine restaurants and establishments along the banks.
Behind Temple Nine on this Moselle island were two major city buildings and parks -- La Place de la Comédie and La Place de la Préfecture. These were significant government buildings fronted by a major flower garden that was in full bloom all spring and summer. Other places to look for included the little Salle Fabert, an old school next to the Préfecture, and the Point St. Georges, a park just beyond the island.
Metz had lots of other churches around the Old Town of nearly every size, style, and Christian denomination. While most were still in use, there were the ruins of others left that remained as reminders of conflicts past. For example, one such ruin was located on the northwest bank of the Moselle overlooking one of the reservoirs. It was of a church tower that stood alone after the rest of the church had been destroyed and its stones removed. At a street corner to the northeast, across from the Ecole Normale sitting above the street, were the stone frames of an old stained-glass window left behind from an old chapel destroyed during World War II. In all, I found five such church ruins.
To the west of the Temple Nine was the Île de Saulcy, a much larger island where the Moselle divided a second time. There was a huge park and small, shallow marina where a couple of regatta clubs called home. The island was also home to the University of Metz.
Further to the south was the city's major shopping district and Moselle River Authority. As a major river port city, Metz's shopping was predictably great! This sector also has a number of other government buildings and parks, such as the St. Pierre aux Nonnains above, the Palais de Justice, and the Caserne Ney, a French military base. And then, near the train station, was the German Quarter. Beyond the train station was the more modern residential area. Throughout the city were some fantastic little parks.
On a sunny summer day, Metz was about as photogenic as a city could be. Great views of the peaceful Moselle were easy to find, and Metz was replete with riverside eateries and cafés where one can just relax and enjoy life. If the French places near the Moselle River didn't capture your fancy, then head to the German Quarter near the train station. There you will find rows of eateries offering German and Alsacian cuisine.
In between, there was plenty of shopping. The pedestrian district was several blocks long extending from the Palace of Justice to the Cathedral, and had just about everything available in every price range, though in general since Metz (and Lorraine in general) was less touristy than neighboring Alsace, better bargains might be had there.
Metz has mastered the art of making one appreciate the good life. After all, she's been doing it for, oh about 3,000 years. I think she got it just about right. ::aaaaahhhhh::
Trips taken 14 October 2001 and 28 July 2002 -- Page Last Updated 11 October 2006 -- (C) 2006 Tom Galvin