12 Top Tourist Attractions in Metz & Easy Day Trips
Impressive historic monuments, a picturesque riverside setting, and graceful bridges give Metz its special charm. Metz is listed as a "Ville d'Art et d'Histoire" (City of Art and History) because of its exceptional heritage. Capital of the Lorraine region, Metz was incorporated into France in 1552, but from 1870 to 1918 and during WWII, it belonged to Germany (about 70 kilometers away).
Metz has a quaint historic center with narrow cobblestone lanes, lovely old buildings, and a magnificent Gothic cathedral. The city is a wonderful melange of different neighborhoods, each with a distinct personality. The Outre-Seille district has an alluring medieval character. The Iles quarter features elegant squares and atmospheric canals. The Citadelle quarter boasts ancient buildings and beautiful green spaces. Visitors will enjoy wandering the atmospheric streets, exploring the museums and attractions, shopping at trendy boutiques, strolling through the parks, and relaxing at the sidewalk cafés.
1 Cathédrale Saint-Etienne
Fondly called the "Lantern of God" because of its awe-inspiring stained-glass windows, the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne is a jewel of Gothic architecture. This splendid cathedral is one of the tallest Gothic buildings in Europe with a nave reaching 42 meters high, while its slender towers and delicate spires soar even higher towards heaven. The cathedral was built between 1250 and 1380 on a unified plan, incorporating the earlier Church of Notre-Dame-la-Ronde. The facade features beautiful reliefs including the "Portail de la Vierge" (Doorway of the Virgin) created in 1240.
The interior of Metz' Cathedral has an overwhelming effect, with its great height and width and colorful stained-glass windows. The brilliantly illuminated sanctuary has 6,500 square meters of stained-glass windows. The windows date from the 13th to the 20th centuries. The 14th-century rose window on the west front and 16th-century windows in the choir and transepts are especially beautiful. The Chapelle du Saint-Sacrement (des Evêques) is adorned with stained-glass windows created by Jacques Villon in 1957. Abstract windows from the 1950s by Bissière grace the towers. The cathedral also has three windows created by Marc Chagall in 1960. The choir boasts a marble bishop's throne of the Merovingian period.
2 Centre Pompidou-Metz
This daring modern art museum opened on May 12, 2010 and focuses on artwork created from 1905 to the present. The award-winning building was designed by Shigeru Ban and Jean de Gastines, in collaboration with Philip Gumuchdjian Architects. In the middle of two gardens, the museum boasts 10,700 square meters of exhibition space divided up into three galleries with expansive windows that allow in natural light. The Centre Pompidou-Metz is the sister organization to the Centre Pompidou, the Musée National d'Art Moderne in Paris. The Centre Pompidou-Metz draws its exhibits from the Centre Pompidou's Paris-based collection of 76,000 pieces, one of the world's best collections of modern and contemporary art. Despite the association with the Paris museum, the museum in Metz is an independent organization that offers its own program and a unique experience. Through its engaging exhibits, the museum encourages viewers to interpret and appreciate modern art. The Centre Pompidou-Metz also hosts performing arts events, cinema screenings, and conferences throughout the year. The museum's gourmet restaurant features an outdoor terrace with panoramic views.
Address: 1 Parvis des Droits-de-l'Homme, Metz
3 Musées de Metz Métropole La Cour d'Or (Art and History Museum)
This renowned museum is in La Cour d'Or, a lovely historic building named after the legendary palace of Merovingian Kings that once stood here. Parts of the museum occupy the former Abbaye des Petits Carmes and the Eglise des Trinitaires. The museum has an outstanding collection and is devoted to four disciplines: archaeology, architecture, medieval art and history, and fine arts. The antiquities collection focuses on the Gallo-Roman period and includes remnants of ancient baths and everyday objects. The medieval department features Merovingian tombs, religious art, medieval treasures of the 11th century, and the chancel from the Saint Pierre-aux-Nonnains Church. The fine arts collection includes French, Dutch, German, and Flemish paintings from the 16th to 20th centuries as well as art work by Ecole de Metz painters. There is also a space dedicated to the history of the Jewish community in Metz. The museum lies in the Quartier Colline Sainte-Croix, the historic heart of Metz where archaeological relics from as far back as the Bronze Age have been found.
Address: 2 Rue du Haut Poirier, Metz
4 Porte des Allemands
Between the Boulevard Maginot and the Rue des Allemands stands the most emblematic site of Metz, the Porte des Allemands (which translates to "Door of the Germans"). The monument was named after the Teutonic Knights who had a hospital nearby. The Porte des Allemands is the last relic of the town's medieval ramparts-the ancient bridge, fortified gate, and defense towers. From afar, it looks like a castle fort standing above the Seille River. The Porte des Allemands features two immense round towers that date from the 13th century and two 15th-century bastions. Between the two towers lies a terrace designed to accommodate artillery. It is easy to envision where the drawbridge once stood, allowing entry to visitors or preventing hostile invaders from entering. For more than three centuries, these medieval walls successfully provided protection against attacks.
Part of the Porte des Allemands has been converted into a walking path. The surrounding area is also worth exploring. The Porte des Allemands lies in the Quartier Outre-Seille, a quaint neighborhood of narrow medieval streets and charming old buildings. The picturesque Rue Taison has many unique arts and crafts shops.
5 Opéra-Théâtre de Metz Métropole
One of the most beautiful theaters in France, the Theatre de la Comédie is also the oldest working opera house in France. Founded in 1752, the building features classical architecture typical of the 18th century. The opulent auditorium has red velvet seats and ornately decorated gilded balustrades. The statues depicting the muses were made by the local sculptor Charles Pêtre in 1858. Originally the theater had seating for more than 1,300 guests, however it now has 750 seats after an update in 1963. The intimate space offers perfect viewing from any seat. The theater presents a wide array of performances throughout the year, from classical music and ballet to traditional French theater such as Molière.
The theater lies on the grand Place de la Comédie, a beautiful square lined with elegant 18th-century Neoclassical buildings and the Eglise Saint-Vincent. This area, known as the Quartier des Iles, is the quarter of Metz that consists of the islands in the Moselle River. Continuing further into the neighborhood offers a rewarding experience that is surprisingly undiscovered by most tourists. The atmospheric narrow lanes lead to beautiful old buildings and picturesque canals.
Address: 4 - 5 Place de la Comédie, Metz
6 Eglise Saint-Maximin
The simple exterior does not prepare visitors for the rare beauty of this exquisite church, which dates back to the 12th century. The stunning interior features 24 stained-glass windows made by surrealist artist Jean Cocteau in the 1960s. Whimsical, colorful, and poetic, the windows are a masterwork of creativity and craftsmanship. Pastel blue, green, pink, yellow, and lavender-hued windows flood the church with a brilliant glow in contrast to the somber sanctuary. The windows feature surprising religious motifs as well as secular symbols such as doves, leaves, flowers, and geometric designs that are not typically found in a house of worship. Cocteau had traveled extensively in Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, and the styles of these exotic places influenced his creative vision. Cocteau's splendid stained-glass windows give the church a special atmosphere of spirituality and peace. The church lies in the charming historic neighborhood of Quartier Outre-Seille, south of the Porte des Allemands.
Address: 61 Rue Mazelle, Metz
7 Eglise Saint-Pierre-aux Nonnains
In the Quartier Citadelle above the Esplanade and near the Chapelle des Templars, the Eglise Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains is one of the oldest monuments in Metz. The church was built in the 4th century on the site of the ancient Gallo-Roman city. Originally a Roman basilica (an early Christian church), the building was later used for the Benedictine abbey that was founded in the 7th century. In the 16th century, the church was incorporated into the town's defenses. Today, the Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains Church is an architectural reminder of more than 1,000 years of history. The church has been converted into a cultural center and offers a unique setting for music concerts and temporary exhibitions.
Address: 1 Rue de la Citadelle, Metz
8 Chapelle des Templiers
One of the most interesting buildings in Metz, the Chapelle des Templiers dates from the 12th century. The unusual octagonal-shaped building is the only example of an octagonal chapel in the Lorraine region. The chapel was built between 1180 and 1220, showing the transition between Romanesque and Gothic architecture. The Templars Chapel lies in the Quartier Citadelle and is part of the Arsenal Cultural Center, which has a theater and concert hall.
Address: Rue de la Citadelle, Metz
9 Place Saint-Louis
At the historic center of Metz in the Colline Sainte-Croix quarter, this town square dates back to the Middle Ages and is evidence of Metz's medieval prosperity. With its atmospheric arcades and Renaissance merchant houses, the Place Saint-Louis has a distinct Old World charm. Many of the buildings feature Italian-inspired architecture. The arcades are lined with boutiques, restaurants, and cafés, making the square a center of activity during the day and a lively place to enjoy an evening meal.
10 Temple Neuf
The Temple Neuf stands in the "Jardin d'Amour" (Garden of Love) at the end of the Place de la Comédie. The building is best viewed from Quai Paul Vautrin. From this vantage point, the Temple Neuf is seen soaring above the island of Quartier des Iles surrounded by the Moselle River. When illuminated at night, the building is reflected in the Moselle River, offering a spectacular scene. The church was built from 1901 to 1904 in grey sandstone and contrasts with the classical architecture of the nearby Opera-Theater House. The Romanesque Revival style of the building was inspired by the Cathedrals of Speyer and Worms in Germany's Rhineland region. The architecture gives the chapel a medieval look, even though it was built in the 20th century. The Temple Neuf is used as a place of worship as well as to host cultural events.
Address: Place de la Comédie, Metz
The perfect escape from Metz' urban bustle, the Esplanade is a peaceful green space with gorgeous landscaping. The tall shady trees, verdant lawns, and vibrant flowers make visitors feel far away from a big city. From the Esplanade's terrace, there are sweeping views of the Mosel Valley and Saint-Quentin Mountain. In the Quartier Citadelle, the Esplanade is flanked by monumental buildings. On the north side is the 18th-century Palais de Justice (Law Courts). To the south is the Eglise Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains. The Chapelle des Templiers is also nearby.
12 Avenue Foch
In the Quartier Impérial, the Avenue Foch showcases a striking mix of architectural styles. The avenue surprises visitors with its mishmash of classic French mansions, faux medieval castles, and eclectic Art Deco buildings. The buildings were all created at the turn of the 20th century by architects who wanted to dabble in experimental styles. The result is an urban landscape, which is unique in France and Europe. The Avenue Foch has several large hotels that are popular with tourists.
Day Trips from Metz
Abbaye des Prémontrés
Hidden in the Forest of Coucy, this peaceful abbey was founded in 1120 as part of the Premonstratensian order, one of the great religious orders of the Middle Ages along with the Cistercians and Benedictines. The abbey was rebuilt in the 18th century and classified as a Historic Monument in 1910. It is renowned for its architecture. Special details include the graceful spiral staircases, ornately decorated halls, and the harmonious cloister. The refectory with a vaulted ceiling exemplifies the beauty of 18th-century architecture. Often used as a venue for weddings and conferences, the abbey has a 3-star hotel with 29 rooms. The Abbaye des Prémontrés lies 30 minutes away from Metz by car, 15 minutes away from the Metz airport by train, and 90 minutes away from Paris by TGV train.
Address: Abbaye des Prémontrés, BP 125, 54705 Pont-à-Mousson
Château de Pange
This elegant château is nestled in the countryside 15 kilometers from Metz. The Château de Pange was built in 1720 for the Marquis of Pange, Jean-Baptiste Thomas, who came from an ancient family of Lorraine. The descendants of this family still own the property. Beautifully furnished, the château is open to the public for guided visits. The exquisite reception rooms and gorgeous gardens tell the story of the château's 400 years of history.
Address: Château de Pange, 57350 Pange
This impressive ancient Roman site lies a short drive (about 12 kilometers away) from the city center of Metz. The well-preserved remains of the Roman aqueduct are evidence of the impressive scale and design of a 2,000-year-old monument that once provided water to the 2nd-century city of Divodurum (Metz).
The little village of Sillegny has a noteworthy church that is well worth a detour for those traveling by car. The Eglise Saint-Martin is famous for its medieval frescoes that were created in the 16th century.