Metz may not be the first place that springs to mind when you think of France – hell, it may not even be the tenth.
But it should definitely be up there.
Metz is one of the best cities I’ve ever visited and it is one of the few that has actually gone above and beyond my expectations (and then some).
Before we dive in, I just want to say a massive thank you to the Metz Tourist Board (and special thanks to Vivienne, our guide/Metz Oracle for the weekend) for having us – it was a pleasure.
Let’s talk about Metz
Metz is about 3,000 years old and absolutely steeped in history and heritage.
There are so many different influences on the city, with input from the various countries that have claimed ownership of it throughout it’s lifetime.
The two standout influences that are prevalent throughout are Roman and Germanic architecture – two of my personal favourites. Due to its history as a military city, there are huge, grand buildings that were designed to stand the test of time – and that they have. It adds a satisfying contrast to the little alleyways and chic flats that pepper the streets.
It is now the economic hub of the Lorraine region which seems to be heavily driven my tech and science. This mixture of historic and innovative gives Metz a vibe that is difficult to put my finger on – but I like it.
Travelling isn’t quite as straight forward as some other destinations but it’s pretty cheap and it’s not hard if you’ve got more than one brain cell.
Since Metz borders so many different places, you can fly anywhere around it and travel in by train. You could even fly directly in to Metz if you wanted but plane tickets are substantially more expensive.
Here’s exactly what we did;
- Flights from Manchester to Luxembourg (€50 each way)
- Bus from Luxembourg airport to city centre (€2 each way)
- Train from Luxembourg central train station to Metz Ville ($16.50 each way)
We’re looking at a total travel time of about 4 hours which isn’t bad considering what it entails. It’s very hard to mess this up so don’t get stressed out during your travels, trust me.
At a combined cost of €135, this was definitely one of the cheaper travel routes I’ve done. Considering I went for such a popular time in the year, I’d say that’s pretty good value for money.
Doing it in style @ The 1903 lounge
Airports are rather stressful places to navigate let’s be honest with ourselves. That’s why whenever I’m flying from Manchester airport, I’ll splash the cash on their 1903 lounge.
If you book it in advance, it’s only £35. For that, you get unlimited spirits, beers, champagne and coffee whilst fresh food is brought out constantly. You also get to escape the chaos downstairs, get access to free wifi and there are chairs and tables where you can look straight out on to the runway.
Not to mention plug sockets for your equipment if you need a quick charge, loads of magazines and pretty much the best airport experience you’ll ever have.
This time around, they were kind enough to give me and my amigo a gifted stay which set the tone for the entire holiday and made us feel a teency weency bit like Z-list celebrities.
But yeah, the 1903 lounge is literally a must-do for anyone who wants a chilled out, child-free non-war zone to relax and indulge in before hitting the skies.
Where to stay?
We stayed in one of the best Hotels Metz has to offer – Hotel La Citadelle. This place is unbelievable – a repurposed military building from the 1500’s, it has got loads of character and is somehow in absolutely top notch condition, which is something I noticed with so many of the buildings around the city.
It is opposite a quiet park, adjacent to the Mayor’s residence, next to the old military arsenal building and behind the contemporary arts centre.
Quite the location then…
It’s also about a 5 minute walk from the river, cathedral and just about everything else in Metz. The beauty of the city is that everything is within walking distance no matter where you are, but the location of La Citadelle was just ideal.
On stepping inside, we were greeted by a friendly receptionist, offered some specially brewed drinks (obviously couldn’t turn down a freebie) and shown to our room.
The room had it’s own hallway. A bloody hallway!
Then we were treated to an amazing bathroom, separate toilet and huge room with a bird’s eye view of the park in front along with a welcome pack, robes, etc. They really had gone the full 9 yards.
A place like this really does try its very best to live up to the lofty standards its guests hold it to – hence the fact their very own restaurant has a Michelin star.
Not too shabby!
And even if this hotel was awful, it’d be worth it just to see all of the supercars parked outside…
What to do?
Now this is the real question.
I wasn’t too sure what to expect when I arrived apart from the itinerary we were given. Youtube videos and blog articles are pretty hard to come by save for the tourist board’s website, so it is difficult to get a full feel for Metz before you visit.
This is what annoyed me.
I can’t wrap my head around why there aren’t more people doing city guides, reviews, etc – the place is so full of things to do that people should be visiting, then visiting again and again – and again.
With this in mind, I felt it to be almost my duty to go as in depth as possible with this article. But even this guide barely scratches the surface. Believe me when I say, I am desperate to go back and do a part 2 already!
I always thought French food was baguettes, snails and frogs.
Is that bigoted? Probably. Anyway, I have to put it out there – I am now fully in love with French cuisine. Everything from their pastries to their cheese just grabs you and sends you into the gastronomical stratosphere.
At various points I would catch myself just murmuring superlatives because I was in some strange food/orgasm state for the duration of every meal.
Pastries is one of France’s strong suits and I can see why.
We visited a family run pâtisserie named Fresson, after its owner who runs the store with his wife and a small team, who make every single pastry, cake and sweet by hand.
The attention to detail on everything was unbelievable – not to mention the taste.
We had a St Louis macron (named after the square the store sits by) and one of their special recipe chocolates for our breakfast – all in the name of being continental of course…
La Fleure de Ly
This was not your bog standard restaurant.
I’ve rarely had a meal that was an experience but this most definitely was. There was about 6 courses, pallet cleansers, Michelin star-esque presentation and thankfully – phenomenal tasting food.
The atmosphere here is great – there is a really relaxed, personal feeling about the whole place, from its location and the front courtyard to its moddily lit restrooms and open kitchen.
La Fleure de Ly was on another level.
Another fantastic place to grab an amazing meal is Le Bistronome. We got to eat outside which was perfect – it felt like I was on the set of a movie.
The food was, again, unbelievable.
3 courses, 2 glasses of wine and an after dinner espresso – the French just do it so, so right.
If you fancy a change of pace, try the covered market which is located literally right in front of the cathedral. There are so many stalls to choose from and even stores that’ll sell you quirky goods like artisan coffee roasting equipment and let you pick your own beans like a pick ‘n’ mix.
Did I just say artisan?
We tried a restaurant in the market called L’assiette du Marche/Chez Mauricette which was slightly more informal than the other restaurants. But again, we were treated to the full 3 courses along with after dinner sweets and yet more drinks.
They go the full hog in Metz and I am absolutely in love with it.
We did quite a lot of this. From champagne breakfasts in the airport to post meal espressos, we sampled every last bit. Here’s a few things you can guzzle in Metz.
Coffee in the square
Grab a quick coffee, sit outside and watch the world go by for a bit.
We did this on our first morning to get more of a feel for the place. As we were in the main square it was great to people watch whilst we got caffeinated up to our eye balls.
Solar powered boat wine aperitif
I’m gonna stick my neck out on the line here and say that this may well have been the highlight of the trip. The Solis Mettensis was 2 hours of eating continental snacks and drinking local champagne whilst sharing some great company on an amazing scenic river cruise.
Due to its size, it was just me, my mate, an old couple that didn’t speak a word of English and our captain.
And we had an amazing time.
Robbie, our captain, was an extremely knowledgeable bloke and told us all about the history of Metz and little snippets that only the locals know. He also had immaculate taste in champagne, as he let us drink his two bottles of Metz & Luxembourg-produced dry.
It’s hard to describe it but if you do decide to visit Metz, you have to do this one.
Brasserie La Tuilerie, just off the Moselle river, opened their doors just for us.
Imposter syndrome inbound.
We got to tour around their microbrewery learning about their processes, grand plans and history. We also got to sit down for an hour with the owners for a little drinking session, getting to know more about each other.
This was our first stop of the trip, so it was nice to get chatting to some locals right away.
Apparently, Metz has a lowkey underbelly of brasseries who all love to brew and share their very best creations across the city.
If you fancy tasting amazing beers all day, why not organise a tour of them all?
That’s if you could make it to the last one after all them drinks…
I’m a little bit of a culture junky.
Thankfully, Metz gave me my fix – in fact I almost OD’d on culture it was that plentiful.
This has to be number one.
Maybe I felt so at ease straight away in Metz because it instantly felt like a home from home.
In Liverpool, people are proud of where they come from, we’re proud of our history, we welcome strangers with open arms to tell them about how great our city is and of course, we’ve got a great sense of humour.
The people of Metz seem to be exactly the same.
I had never been to France before this trip, but all I’ve heard is that French people are rude. Is this because I’ve only spoken to people who have visited Paris? Maybe. If a French person visited London they’d probably think exactly the same about us.
It could be because we tried our best to learn the language and engage with strangers, but everyone we spoke to was really friendly and helpful.
They seemed to know everything there was to know about their city and were happy to chat in English too once we told them “Je ne parle pas très bien le français“ – especially 3 fellas we met (all of whom were called Matthieu) who taught us the very best French swear words and insults.
Apparently, we visited on the best night of the year – the opening of the Constellation festival and Fête de le Musique which meant there were stages set up throughout the city with people belting out tunes all day.
It was intense – the streets were absolutely rammed and it was like one big carnival.
I loved it.
The festival is actually a month long, so if you want to see it, be sure to head down between the last week of June to the last week of July.
Everywhere you look, amazing architecture is looking right back at you.
Because of Metz’s unique heritage as a military city and its spells under German, Roman and French ownership, it has collected inspiration from all over Europe.
This creates an awe-inspiring collection of streets, buildings and landscapes which were a genuine joy to walk through and most importantly – snap pics of.
Metz has two rivers which join together – the lake of Metz and the Moselle river.
You should definitely go and walk along these and if you can, get yourself out on the water itself via a cruise of some sort – preferably a boozy one like we did.
This was one of the most aesthetic cathedrals I’ve ever set foot in.
With huuuuge ceilings, stained glass windows as far as the eye can see and a story in every single brick, The Cathedral of Saint Stephen of Metz has to be on your to-do list.
The stonework outside is stunning, with every figure telling a different story – most of them parables from the bible which is something I hadn’t really seen before.
At night it was lit up for the Constellation light show which was trippy AF.
Definitely a must visit.
I love to get lost and try to do it on most of my holidays.
Metz has a plethora of alleyways, little winding streets and gorgeous parks to go and explore with no particular intentions.
It was nice to just walk around for a bit when we had time between stuff we were doing. If you stay for longer than 48 hours, definitely just stroll along the river and through any side streets you come across to see what you can discover.
Centre Pompidou Metz
We didn’t get round to this but apparently it is fantastic.
Being the largest collection of 20th and 21st century artwork in France means they’re probably doing something right over there. It is also the largest exhibition centre outside of Paris – not too bad ey?
Much, much more
There is so much more to do but since we went out for (too many) drinks, we needed a nap on our final day so didn’t get round to exploring as much as we probably should have.
We all love to shop don’t we? Let’s be honest with ourselves.
I didn’t get too much done whilst we were there, but enough to give a couple of recommendations.
Printemps personal shopping
France is rather famous for its shopping and for their fashion in general, which is why I was over the moon when their largest department/clothing store asked if I wanted to do a personal experience.
I was treated to a 45 minute session at Printemps Metz with personal stylist Christelle who was extremely knowledgable about the history of French menswear and dressed me head to toe in the latest fashion to give me a taster of how the homme Français do it.
Great mix of high and low end
A big trend that the French have is mixing layers. Not in the usual sense though. They are known to pair expensive, exotic materials with cheaper cuts for an interesting juxtaposition.
This experimental style can be seen throughout Metz, with lots of high and low end stores all selling their wares. It was amazing to take all of it in and dream up a few #chic outfits for myself before realising I could probably only afford the low end stuff…
Metz has genuinely bowled me over. I don’t know why it was so far above what I expected but it was and that’s all I can say.
Hopefully this 48 hour city guide has give you some inspiration as to what to cram into a fleeting weekend but feel free to do some more research if my itinerary doesn’t tickle your pickle.
If you’d like to spread your activities over a longer period, I’d say go for it. I would have loved to do another few days out there – don’t worry about getting bored.