My first experience in France was at the Strasbourg Christmas Market. That experience revealed something that surprised me a little: I loved France. The people were wonderful (friendly, even though we did not speak French), the cathedrals were amazing, and the shopping was great! It was relaxing to take the short drive over and the countryside was landscaped with peaceful rolling hills and well-kept fields. Because of this wonderful first experience, I decided to be brave and drive over to Metz, the capital of the Lorraine region of France, with just my baby and one of my friends. We found an easy parking garage downtown and made an amazing discovery: we had parked under a huge mall (with great prices, I might add)! But this day was about seeing the city…not shopping. We dragged ourselves out of the mall and into the drizzly city. We stopped for a pretzel and walked around Place St. Louis, a plaza surrounded by 13th-15th century medieval buildings.
Then headed over to a non-functioning water tower “Chateau D’Eau,” walked through the Passage De L’Amphitheatre and saw Centre Pompidou Metz (a modern art museum)…The museum resembled a large manta ray with giant air conditioning units on the top. It reminded me of the Denver airport in a way.
Then around to the main train station-Gare de Metz-Ville. This train station, built in the early 1900s is a beautiful piece of German architecture! Apparently the train station and the water tower were built as an attempt to make the city look more German.
We stopped at a little restaurant down the street from the train station…just as princess had fallen asleep. I ordered a croquet monsieur and for dessert, this delicious sundae!
I continued to realize that France is not a colorful place with a lot of architectural detail, as Germany is. It is mainly white washed cement buildings with little difference from one to the next. The French seem to keep it plain and only add accents as needed.
This doorway and lively pub were a nice visual break.
We wandered through a couple more lovely plazas…sadly, I forgot to change a setting on my camera and ended up with washed out photos.
I can only imagine the difference between mid-spring (when we went) and summer. There would be beautiful gardens, blooming flower beds, and the plazas would be full of people! But not this drizzly spring day.
We had to stop and buy fromage. Yes, it was incredibly stinky. I also purchased whipped honey. Yummmmm
As we wandered aimlessly through plazas, the rain picked up…suddenly we were being pelted with a million raindrops. We took shelter by the door of this beautiful gothic Cathedral of St. Stephen…then ended up wandering inside. St. Stephan’s Cathedral has the highest nave (main body of the church) and the most stained glass windows in a cathedral in the world! Amazing!
The entire cathedral was paneled like this-it was beautiful! I am so thankful that it rained this day-otherwise we would not have had the opportunity to experience St. Stephan’s. Entrance is free, but there is a part you can pay to see. There is also a gift shop where I bought a souvenir coin and a prayer necklace that I let my daughter pick out. It was a nice experience.
Finally…to the oldest church in France and one of the oldest in Europe: the Basilica of St Pierre aux Nonnains! It was originally built as a Roman gymnasium around 370 AD and converted to a chapel around 615 AD. We did not get any closer than this, as our day was drawing to an end.
Once I have gone to all the places on my bucket list, I will return here (during the summer) to tour this chapel, the Templar’s Chapel, and the many other sites we just could not see in the one day we spent here. If you go to Metz, please go in the summer. There is so much to see and do, and it cannot all be done in one day if you have to keep hiding out from the rain!