There’s More to Lorraine than a Good Quiche: The French city of Metz

Have you ever wondered where the ‘quiche Lorraine’ got its name from? It is so named because it originates in the north eastern region of France called Lorraine. The region shares a border with three other European countries, namely Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg. Not surprisingly then Lorraine has often been at the centre of Europe’s turbulent history. Located on a geographical crossroads since Gallo-Roman times, the city of Metz is more a European city than a strictly French one.

This region’s history may have at times been very turbulent, most recently during World War I and the battle of Verdun, but it has also been very colourful, producing a rich cultural heritage. Take, for example, the New Church, illustrated above. This was built between 1901 and 1904 for the area’s protestant community during the annexation of the region by Germany. Modern and striking contrast to the city’s very decorative gothic cathedral, Cathédrale Saint-Étienne (below).

The city of Metz is still producing headline-grabbing as well as eye-catching architecture. In May this year the Centre Pompidou-Metz was opened by President Sarkozy at the start of celebrations that lasted five days. Situated on what was once a Roman Amphitheatre, and at a height of 77 metres (a reference to the year the Centre Pompidou in Prais was opened, 1977), Centre Pompidou-Metz is decidedly futuristic. It has provided the city with a focal point for urban renewal; there has been much restoration of old, adjacent buildings that might otherwise have been bulldozed, and new bars and restaurants have appeared for that ‘café culture’ Europe is famous for.

The Metz Pompidou, like its Parisian counterpart, is a museum to modern art; and the curators of the three galleries will be able to draw on over 65 000 pieces from the collection of Musée National d’Art Moderne. The inaugural exhibition Chef d’Oeuvre?, or Masterpieces?, displays some 700 works of art by such artists as Picasso and Miro in an attempt to explore critically the notion of masterpiece in modern art. The exhibition is on until 25 October 2010.

But what other things are there to do in Metz?.With three national parks in the area and the Vosges Mountains, there is something to do all year round, from hiking in picturesque natural landscapes during summer, to mountain winter sports when it snows in the winter. The Metz Tourist Office’s website shows just how much there is to do and see here. As this is the crossroads of four European nations, Lorraine is certainly one of the best places to visit in Europe.

The photographs in this post were taken from Alexandre Prévot’s Metz set on Flickr.

Click here for the lowest prices on Metz hotels

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About Thomas Dowson

Hello, I am Thomas Dowson - a freelance writer and archaeologist living in Normandy, France. My field of expertise is prehistoric art - such as the cave paintings in the Dordogne and South Africa. But I am becoming passionately interested in France more generally, and Normandy in particular, and what this country and one of its very well known regions has to offer people with all sorts of tastes and desires. In 2005 I exchanged a university archaeology lecture room for a Bed & Breakfast in Normandy. More recently I started the Archaeology Travel website; sharing my expertise and love of archaeology and travel with others who also want to explore the many different pasts around the World.