Metz – not an alcopop

OK, Metz isn’t an alcopop any more but it used to be. In the UK anyway. It tasted of flat lemonade and I think it had vodka in. Anyway, this is not that Metz. This one is much older and still here, and a good thing too as it’s another place well worth a day or so of your touristy time and a roll of film.

I strolled into town and the first major building I noticed was the huge railway station. It looks positively ancient, but is apparently only just over 100 years old, built by Germans when the town was under their control. Metz has changed hands a few times over the years! It’s a fantastic building with a cathedral-like structure and related carvings on the front.

Out front is a very impressive flower display. If you pop into the station there are some stairs which lead to a balcony on the front so you can get an aerial view of the layout below and see the shapes made by the various plants. Pretty cool. There’s a video of the view on YouTube.

My hostess picked me up from the station and drove me to her flat where we had some dinner and I collapsed for the night after repairing her laptop. I had one day to be a tourist the next day and, with Laurène as my guide, wandered the (rainy) streets of Metz. We stopped at tourist information for a souvenir map where I was informed that there are several walks around Metz. All of these are marked by golden triangles in the ground which guide you on your chosen route. The map had information on each place along the walks.

Most of the buildings are made of a yellow stone, from the cathedral to the shops. It’s a local stone and makes the city look like it’s under a permanent street lamp. The aforementioned cathedral is the first thing we saw and it’s pretty much into the “huge” category – apparently one of the largest in France. Like Nancy, Metz has been spending some cash on restoration and cleaning. The cathedral is spotless in the areas where they’ve finished and the work seems to be continuing. Very impressive, very tall, very well decorated and with some lovely stained glass windows inside. As ever, I’m not remotely religious but it amazes me what people can build when they put their minds to it. Even if the building takes them 200 years.

From there, we found a park and some fountains which reminded me – on a smaller scale – of some of the Italian ones. The rain came down and we scurried into a shopping mall where I browsed through a book shop. A curious French hobby is collecting hardback comic books. Some of them look fantastic, though they’re not cheap at around seven quid for a 40-page story. There are thousands of these things and I wish they were in English so I could curl up and read through them!

As the rain eased, we headed for a pub where we’d arranged to meet Patricia and Lionel, two more couchsurfing hosts from the city. Patricia took us to a nearby pub where she seemed to know all the staff and regulars (good girl!). We enjoyed a couple of drinks and a good chat before Patricia had to leave. The remaining three of us finished our drinks, I admired the paintwork in the lavatories (very curious – cartoon willies jumping off cliffs) and we set off to see the city by night.

And what a sight. All the major buildings are lit up beautifully allowing for some great photos. The Temple Neuf which sits on bank where two parts of the river rejoin after flowing around an island has to be seen to be believed. The cathedral is also, obviously, lit up. A shame they had to build houses and shops in Metz as there’s no complete view of the building from a distance!

Lionel kindly drove us back to Laurène’s where we had a late dinner, watched some American TV shows in French and I unfolded my couch once more.

Again, I have had a great time and met some wonderful, generous people. Thanks to you all for making this visit even better than I’d hoped!

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