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, CathÃ©drale Saint-Ã‰tienne (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 ‘cafÃ© 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 MusÃ©e 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 PrÃ©vot’s Metz set on Flickr.