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Visit Metz, France
Metz is the capital city of Lorraine, a historic region in northeast France, today part of the Grand Est region. Bisected by the Seille and Moselle rivers, Metz is one of those wonderful French cities still overlooked by international travelers.
You will find many historic sites, museums, performance venues, gardens, and leafy promenades. Even the train station in Metz is beautiful to visit, thanks to its dramatic architecture!
Is Metz worth visiting? If you want to see old sites and dive back into history, you will love Metz. The city has a history that dates back centuries to the Romans and even before. It also has cute squares and great food that everyone will enjoy. Since a considerable part of the city center is now turned into a pedestrian zone, shopping in Metz is also like heaven!
This article is about the best things to do in Metz, France. A city of moderate size, you will find that many of the places to visit in Metz listed in the article are near each other, so it is easy to visit on foot.
Metz is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. Visit Metz in two days to get a good taste of what the city has to offer and to cover the main Metz attractions. Spend more time if you are willing to explore the city’s surroundings on day trips from Metz. If all of that sounds ideal for your next trip, then here’s what to do in Metz, France.
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Top Metz Accommodation and Lodging
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What to Do in Metz, France
If you want to visit Metz, what to do? Here’s the list of the best things to do in Metz, France. This Metz things-to-do list includes historical sites, cultural attractions, and more.
The Centre Pompidou-Metz is a modern and contemporary art museum in Metz. It has semi-permanent exhibitions as a branch of the Pompidou Art Center. The building itself is also a work of art, designed by the Japanese architect Shigeru Ban. The highlight of the building is the roof, which resembles a Chinese hat.
One of the top Metz attractions, you can also find rotating temporary exhibitions here, often featuring works from the French National Museum of Modern Art. The rotating exhibitions are large, as they are in the largest temporary exhibition space in France outside of Paris. They rotate every three to four months and are unique to the museum – Click here to buy your tickets to Centre Pompidou-Metz
The city’s Opera-Theater, also called the Metz Opera, is a 750-seat opera house. The theater was inaugurated in 1752, making it the oldest theater in France still operating today. It is also one of the oldest theaters in all of Europe!
There are dozens of performances at the Opera Theater annually, and they are not limited to opera shows. You can visit here to see a play, lyrical poetry, and choreography performances.
You can also take a tour of the opera house, and your guide will show you behind the scenes and teach you about the history of the old theater – Click here to see the Metz Opéra’s program for this season
The Temple Neuf, or the New Temple, is a beautiful church in the heart of Metz. The church was built between 1901 and 1904, and in 1930 it was designated as a historical monument for the country. It is called the New Temple since the old one at the same site was destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War.
One of the top things to see in Metz, the Temple Neuf’s location is very picturesque, sitting on one of the islands of the Moselle River. When you visit, you can walk around the church and the gardens around it. You will also want to admire the church from across the water.
Gare de Metz (Metz Train Station)
The Gare de Metz, or Metz Train Station, is well worth a visit, and it may even be where you arrive in town. The train station opened in 1908, and millions of passengers transit through the station every year. Thanks to its grand architecture, it was designated as a Historic Monument in 1975.
The train station was designed by the German architect Jürgen Krögen in Neo-Romanesque style when Metz was part of the Holy German Empire. The building was designed this way to represent the religious and temporal powers of the Holy Roman emperors.
The station building is architecturally reminiscent of the shape of a church in the departure hall area, with a clock tower rising 40m in height (said to be designed by Kaiser Wilhelm himself); on the other hand, the arrivals hall and restaurant echo the form of an imperial palace.
Kaiser Wilhelm appreciated his travels to Metz and the territory of Alsace-Lorraine, under his empire. During his visits to the city, he set his apartments in Metz at the railway station, which are used today as offices for the SNCF railway company.
Porte des Allemands
The Porte des Allemands, also known as the Germans’ Gate, is a castle bridge and gate on the east side of Metz. It dates back to the 13th century with two round guard towers. In the 15th century, two gun bastions were added to the gate. It was designated as a historical monument in France in 1966.
You will want to visit the gate as it is the only old medieval city gate that remains in Metz today. Inside the Porte des Allemands are seventeen rooms that are used as a museum. It has information about the history of the city, old artifacts, and some archeological remains.
To visit the Porte des Allemands, take the Chemin des Corporations, a beautiful leafy promenade that follows the city’s former ramparts by the Moselle and Seille Rivers. From the Pont des Grilles to the Porte de Allemands and via the hill of Bellecroix, travel through the centuries along 4km of marked and commented walks, rich in an imposing and varied heritage linked to defending the city.
Cathédrale Saint-Etienne (Metz Cathedral)
The Cathédrale Saint-Etienne, or Metz Cathedral, is a French Gothic Cathedral dedicated to Saint Stephen. It took over three centuries to build the Cathedral, from 1220 to 1550, but you will realize why when you see the massive, breathtaking building. Jaumont stone, mined near Metz, was used for the entire monument and gives it its characteristic golden shine.
Inside, the central nave is the third highest in France (41.41m), and there are nearly 6,500 square meters of stained glass to admire during your visit. You can walk around the Cathedral on your own or take a guided tour to learn about the history and architecture of this magnificent building.
La Cour d’Or Museum
The Cour d’Or Museum is right by the Cathedral, and it opened in the 19th century to show off art, sculptures, and natural history from Metz and France. It is officially owned and maintained by the city of Metz.
Within the museum, you will be able to explore four different sections. There is a history and archaeological section that focuses a lot on Gallo-Roman history and artifacts. The other three sections are the Medieval section, the Architecture section, and the Museum of Fine Arts. The museum also has a granary.
The Museum is open from Wednesday to Monday, and it is free to visit.
Another beautiful church to visit in Metz city is the Eglise Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnais. The structure was built in the 4th century when the Gallo-Romans started settling in the city, but it became a church in the 7th century, making it one of the oldest in Europe.
The building is still a church today, owned by the Roman Catholic Church, but it is mostly used for musical performances and other events (there was an exhibition when we visited). You can visit the church, and you will notice that the architecture on the outside is much more Roman than that on the inside.
Place Saint-Louis is a lovely square in Metz, not too far from the Metz Cathedral. It was named after King Louis IX.
Place Saint-Louis is one of the finest examples of medieval architecture and the glorious past of Metz. Its magnificent arcaded houses, as well as the memory of the first silver shops of the city, make it a picturesque and historic square.
The square is mainly made up of pedestrians, so you can wander through it and admire the medieval architecture surrounding it. Here you will find many bars and restaurants, so it is a great place to visit after you do all the other fun things to do in Metz on this list.
One of the top Metz things to do, Place Saint-Louis hosts an outdoor market on Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. If you visit Metz in the winter, you can come here for one of the best Christmas Markets in France.
Taste the Local Cuisine
Foodies won’t be disappointed when they visit Metz, France (and Lorraine in general). From starters to desserts, taste the rich flavours of Lorraine’s gastronomy, like the quiche Lorraine, bouchées à la reine, and the Lorraine hotpot.
The region also has excellent cheeses, like the AOC labeled Munster Géromé, Carré de l’Est soft cheese, and Brie de Meaux made in the Meuse.
The Mirabelle plum is Lorraine’s iconic fruit. Indeed, 75% of worldwide production comes from orchards in Lorraine! You can enjoy this juicy fruit alone, in a warm tart, or in jam, candies, syrups, or brandies.
On the drinking side, don’t miss the region’s quality wines (AOC Côtes de Toul and AOC Moselle) and excellent beers from small local breweries.
Take a Day Trip from Metz
There are lots of interesting things to do in Metz, but it is also worth using one day to explore the city’s surroundings on a day trip.
Once you have covered what to see in Metz, Strasbourg and Nancy are two beautiful cities easy to reach by train. Metz to Strasbourg is 1hr 28 min by train – check out what to do in Strasbourg on a day trip. The train ride from Metz to Nancy only takes 38 minutes.
If you have a car, Verdun and its WW1 sites is a 50-minute ride. A bit further, Bar-le-Duc is another lovely town to visit in the Lorraine region, or you can even consider a day trip to Luxembourg from Metz!