The morning autumn air was cool and the streets were quiet as we walked from the train station to our hotel in the heart of Metz. An hour-long train from Paris brought us to this northern French city where we were greeted by beautiful parks, delicious cuisine, quaint streets, friendly people, and an immense amount of history. It is often overlooked by visitors for more popular nearby cities, like Luxembourg, Reims, and Paris, but we think the city is quite charming and worth the stop! Here are eight things to do in Metz during your visit.
1. Marvel at the Metz Cathedral
The Metz Cathedral is perhaps the city’s most iconic building and is said to be one of the most beautiful churches in France. Construction on this Gothic-style building began in 1220 and it contains a large amount of stunning detail, from the exterior buttresses and entry to the stained-glass windows and altar inside.
You can visit free of charge daily from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. For more details on visiting the Metz Cathedral, check out our other post.
2. Check out the Porte des Allemands
The Porte des Allemands, or German Gate, is a piece of Metz’s old fortification system. The oldest parts of the structure date back to the 13th century, but additions and renovations were done up to the early 1900s.
This striking piece of the ramparts can be seen from the streets surrounding it. But visitors are welcome to walk through the gate and stand atop the old walls during opening hours. The gate is open every day except Monday from 2 p.m. until 7 p.m. May through September and 2 p.m. until 5 p.m. October through April. It is also free to enter!
When walking through the Porte des Allemands, you can head from the main courtyard into the towers and up on the old rampart walls that span over the Seille River. We enjoyed the views of the surrounding streets, river, and fall colors.
3. Head to the Markets
We love visiting markets wherever we travel, so we headed to the Marché Couvert, or Covered Market. Inside this little market, you’ll find anything from cheeses, homemade ravioli, pastries, and dried goods to potted plants and fresh goods like seafood and produce. There are some little eateries inside as well!
Additional market booths are sometimes set up outside. The market is in a great spot in the heart of town right near the Metz Cathedral. It is generally open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.
During the holiday season, there are some Christmas markets that pop up around Metz. We were visiting a little too early, but at the end of October, we saw people setting up lights over the streets and some carnival rides and other holiday decorations staged for setup around the city. Place Saint Louis and Place de la République are popular spots for holiday festivities.
In addition to markets, there are many other cute shops and boutiques around the city center.
4. Admire Temple Neuf
When you see photos of Metz, it’s common to see the Temple Neuf. It truly is a picturesque sight with the neo-Romanesque church standing tall on the point with the river and pretty gardens surrounding it. This beautiful building was constructed in the 1870s and is one of Metz’s many important historic monuments.
The temple’s tower can be seen from various points within Metz. But some of the best views can be seen from the Moyen Bridge, Rue des Roches riverside path across the Moselle River from the temple, and the Jardin d’Amour that surrounds the building.
The public can also enter the Temple Neuf free of charge on Wednesdays and Saturdays from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. and during certain events. If you’d like to visit outside of that time, you can book an appointment. For event updates, appointment booking, and other info, check the website.
5. Take a Stroll Through the Parks
In addition to the Jardin d’Amour at the Temple Neuf, there are many other beautiful gardens in Metz. As you stroll around the city, you’ll definitely encounter some lovely green spaces tucked among the historic buildings of the city. These are great spots to just take a walk through on your way to your next stop, get some exercise, or relax in for a bit and watch the world go by.
Some of the beautiful parks we strolled through include Square du Luxembourg, Jardin des Tanneurs, Jardin de l’Esplanade, and Jardins Jean-Marie Pelt. Being there in the fall, the autumn leaves in the parks were quite beautiful.
6. Make a Stop at the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-Aux-Nonnaines
The Basilica of Saint-Pierre-Aux-Nonnaines is one of the oldest churches still standing in the world! It was built during the 4th century. It originally served as a spa and gymnasium before being converted to a church in the 7th century. Additions and changes have been made to it throughout its history, which is evident in its various details and architectural styles.
The Basilica was not open when we visited, so we just admired it from the outside. There are some informational signs around the building. Hours and days where visitors can enter the building vary, so click here for the latest info.
7. See Porte Serpenoise
Porte Serpenoise was also once a part of Metz’s city walls and fortifications. There used to be a large vault inside this portion of the ramparts. Today, visitors can just admire arch from the outside.
Porte Serpenoise is a quick stop, but a unique piece of the city’s history. There are also various things to see around it, like Palais du Gouverneur Militaire and the pretty square near the gate.
8. Immerse Yourself in the Museums
Metz has a few museums covering a range of topics. Visit the Centre Pompidou to admire some art or Musée de la Cour d’Or for a mix of art, architecture, and archaeological exhibits. Musée de la Guerre de 1870 et de l’Annexion, which sits a short ways outside of Metz, offers a look into the Franco-Prussian War.
You also can also learn about some of the various monuments, churches, and city history with the exhibits, informational signs, audio guides, and tours offered at some of the previously mentioned attractions on this list, among others, in Metz.