Metz, a small city just 3 hours drive from Paris, has been known for its regal architecture and stunning cathedrals until now. A new architectural cat has opened, giving a modern look to Metz’s previously romantic cityscape, an €86m branch of the Centre Pompidou. As if art-lovers needed one more reason to visit this northern French city.
The official opening was in May but the buzz around this expensive project hasn’t settled. Metz is easily compared with Bilbao, the northern Spanish city famed for its Baroque architecture, stunned by the infamous Guggenheim clad in shiny metals.
The new Centre Pompidou was designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban and French architect Jean de Gastines. The building aims to be the home of contemporary art research, cultural programmes, knowledge and other artistic initiatives. This fall there are a number of cultural classes and exhibitions scheduled, so if you’re interested take a look on liligo.com to find cheap flights to Metz. Alternatively you can fly to Paris and arrive in style by high-speed train.
If you’re heading to Metz, this new art centre shouldn’t be the sole focus of your visit. The city is known for its stately squares, green riverside parks and walkways, a picturesque university campus and quite lively pedestrian-only shopping streets. Most unique are some of Metz’s building that date back to when the city was part of the German empire. There’s good reason why its known as the city of cathedrals as Gothic architecture definitely has its place here.
What to see in Metz:
- Cathédrale St-Etienne: The jewel of all of Metz’s cathedrals, St Stephen’s was built between 1220 and 1522 and is famous for its 13th century stained glass, arguably some of the best in France. More modern additions include the windows by Chagall on the western wall. Schedule your visit on a sunny day for the full experience.
- Esplanade: Just West of this central meeting place is a very lovely riverside garden and park area. With ponds, fountains, swans and statues, it’s a great place for an autumn walk or a summertime picnic.
- Musée La Cour d’Or: Among the best at this museum are Gallo-Roman antiques, a statue of Isis which was unearthed right in Metz, Middle-Age art, frescoes from the 15th century and artefacts from Metz’s Jewish community dating back to the 1500s.
- Place St-Louis: Notably surrounded by medieval arcades and houses that date back to the 14th and 16th centuries. It’s located in the eastern side of the city centre.
- Quartier de la Gare: A must-explored neighbourhood in Metz, the Quartier de la Gare is a bourgeois area with wide promenades, made for the pre-WWII dandies of France. Neo-Roman and neo-Renaissance architecture is king here. The train station dates from 1908 and the post office from 1911. Can you feel the German-ness of the area?
- Centre Pompidou: Located across from the main train station, it’s open daily except Tuesdays. Admission is 7€, free entry to those under the age of 26. For more information on upcoming and current programmes and exhibitions visit centrepompidou-metz.fr.
Have you ever been to Metz? What did you see there?