As the capital of the former French region of Lorraine (Lorraine), Metz has many stories to tell. The heart of the city is full of monumental buildings, old mansions and references to a military past. According to sportsqna, the city of Metz even belongs to the list of largest Gallo Roman cities. For example, near the Center Pompidou you can still admire the remains of an old amphitheater and the Saint Étienne cathedral is also a reference to the history of the city. The military stronghold in Metz has now made way for a flourishing culture in which history is well preserved. The city is inextricably linked to the Seille and Moselle rivers, which in some places provide particularly beautiful views.
If you travel from the Netherlands via Luxembourg to the south of Europe, Metz is the first major city you will encounter in France on your way. Metz is a great destination to make a stop. You can take in some of the main highlights of Metz in a few hours. The city is compact enough for that. You can also enjoy yourself there for a whole day or even plan an overnight stay.
The top 10 sights of Metz below will give you a good idea of what to see and do in Metz. Do not forget to focus not only on the ten highlights, but above all to enjoy the city itself.
Top 10 Things to Do in Metz
#1. Center Pompidou-Metz
Lovers of modern and contemporary art cannot miss a visit to the Center Pompidou Metz. Most know Center Pompidou in Paris. But the French city of Metz has its own Pompidou. It is, however, part of the Paris branch. Center Pompidou-Metz is an art museum for modern art. The striking housing on the Parvis des Droits de l’Homme is a design by the Japanese Pritzker Prize winner the architect Shigeru Ban. The museum exhibits works by, among others, the well-known Spanish artist Joan Miró, the world-famous Pablo Picasso and the American artist Andy Warhol.
Good to know: Center Pompidou-Metz is closed every Tuesday. Also on May 1 (Labor Day) the museum will keep the entrance doors closed.
#2. Cathedral Saint-Etienne
As you approach the center of Metz, you will see the huge tower of the Cathedral Saint-Étienne towering over the houses like a beacon. The beautiful cathedral of Metz is located in the center of the city on the Place d’Armes. The Roman Catholic cathedral was built with a yellowish limestone commonly found in the region. The oldest parts of the Saint-Étienne cathedral date from the thirteenth century. The biggest changes then took place after the fire in the nineteenth century.
The stained glass windows are strikingly present on the fairly sober interior. The oldest stained glass windows come from the artist Hermann von Münster. As a thank you for his excellent work, he was even buried in the cathedral. The modern stained glass windows were made by Marc Zakharovich Chagall, among others. Enthusiasts can book a guided tour. This also takes you to the crypt of the cathedral.
#3. Ports of the Germans
On the eastern side of the center is the Ports de Allemands. The building is today the most important remnant of the medieval ramparts in Metz. It bears witness to the evolution of military architecture in Metz in the Middle Ages. The old city gate was built between the thirteenth and fifteenth centuries. Large parts have been restored in their old style, after the Ports des Allemands was badly damaged during the Second World War. The towers of the Porte des Allemands dominate the Seille from a height of twenty-eight meters. The thickness of the walls, reaching 3.50 meters, is then adjusted to the strength of the advancing artillery. The bridge itself was reinforced between 1480 and 1550. Ports des Allemands is still seen as a monument that keeps the military memory alive. The location on the river Seille is truly beautiful.
#4. St. Louis Square
The Place Saint-Louis is the nicest square in the historic part of Metz. The Place Saint-Louis dates from the fourteenth century. Striking details are the arcaded galleries and the classic balconies. They are said to have been inspired by the Italian architecture that the Lorraine merchants came into contact with during their travels to Italy.
On the Place Saint-Louis you can see the yellow limestone, which is often used in Metz, in the streets. The square is at its best during the annual Christmas market in December and when the summer sun warms the city. Then the square bustles like no other. During the grayer and cooler days, the Place Saint-Louis can seem a bit bland.
Another special square of Metz is the Place d’Armes from the eighteenth century. This square is much more stately. It is the former parade ground for the French Army. The square is located between the Saint-Étienne cathedral and the town hall. For Metz, it is the most important piece of urban development from the 18th century. The square is now regularly the scene of festive events.
#5. Golden Court Museum
Within walking distance of Metz Cathedral, you can visit the Musée de la Cour d’Or. Founded in 1839, this museum is currently managed by the metropolis of Metz. The institution unites within the same complex an archaeological museum with rich collections of Gallo-Roman and medieval art, a museum of medieval and Renaissance architecture, a museum of fine arts. The museum is located in a former Carmelite monastery. Musée de la Cour d’Or has an impressive archaeological collection as well as art from the Middle Ages, the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. To enthuse the youth, the museum regularly organizes fun workshops, such as one where you can make your own ink.
#6. Covered market
The Metz covered market has been housed in the former bishop’s palace since 1831. This Marché Couvert is not only a market well frequented by the locals, it is also a meeting point where people discuss everyday things. Not infrequently, a visit to the market is combined with a drink in the catering industry around the market. The market mainly showcases delicious regional products and other ingredients that will make your mouth water. Think of cheese, wine, chocolate, meat, vegetables, fruit, fish, bread, nuts and olives. It can get quite busy here, especially on Saturdays. You can also go there for a quick bite. Some sellers make a fresh meal right on the spot.
#7. The islands
The quartier Les Îles is an administrative district of the city of Metz. It is located north of the historic city center and consists of a number of islands in and near the Moselle. On Les Îles you will find a number of beautiful sights such as the eighteenth-century Basilica Saint-Vincent, the protestant church Temple Neuf and the Opéra-théâtre de Metz. This is the oldest theater in the city of Metz. It is located right on the beautiful Place de la Comédie. The theater was built in the eighteenth century and was inaugurated in 1752. The design of this theater comes from Jacques Oger. The interior is beautifully designed with red velvet, gold accents and richly decorated balconies.
Don’t forget to continue west to Place Raymond Mondon. The combination of a square with historic buildings and a centrally placed fountain surrounded by colorful plants produces beautiful pictures.
#8. Metz. train station
Metz-Ville station was one of the plans of Kaiser Wilhelm II to better organize transport. It was inaugurated in 1908. The fast connection between Berlin and Metz was thus a fact. The German architect Jürgen Kröger was called in for the design. The train station is located at the Place du Général-de-Gaulle. The clock tower was designed by Kaiser Wilhelm II. The train station, built in Neo-Romanesque style, has a length of no less than 350 meters. Because of the enormous bell tower you could wrongly think that you are dealing with a church building.
On the edge of the center of Metz is one of the oldest surviving church buildings in all of France: the Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains. The building belonged to one of the many thermal baths (public bath complexes) that existed in Metz during Roman times. Some sources write that it used to be a gymnasium. In the 7th century, the structure was converted into a church and became the chapel of a Benedictine monastery. A new nave was built in the 11th century with further interior renovations.
In the 16th century, Metz was besieged by the troops of Charles V and later converted by the French into an important garrison town. The building became a warehouse and remained so after it was declared a historic monument in 1909. In the 1970s it was restored and opened for concerts and exhibitions.
#10. Avenue Foch
Without any doubt we can report that the most special houses of Metz can be found on the Avenue Foch. This district is characterized by houses and buildings in the neoclassical, neo-baroque and neo-Renaissance style with a mix of German architecture. Around the year nineteen hundred, large parts were flattened and a new part of the city was created. The Germans clearly left their mark here in the reconstruction decision. In any case, Avenue Foch is a very special avenue with equally special architecture.