Discover The Best Things To Do In Metz, France

Last Updated on 01/06/2024 by secretmoona

Planning a trip in the Grand Est region and looking for things to do in Metz? We’ve got you covered!

Metz, France’s capital of the Lorraine region, is a city you should visit. It is situated in between the Moselle and Seille rivers and is a charming medieval town that used to be a military stronghold. You can spend your time wandering through the medieval streets, exploring the modern Centre Pompidou-Metz, and admiring the city’s Gothic cathedral, among other cultural activities. Additionally, you can experience the town’s ex-German vibe by relaxing in a park or stopping by one of the cafes on the terrace. Let’s explore the things to do in Metz, France

Things to do Metz - Temple Neuf at sunset

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Is Metz, France Worth Visiting?

Metz is absolutely worth a visit!

Metz is a lovely town that offers a great destination for a relaxing city break. It is an alternative to the busy town of Strasbourg, especially during the Christmas season. The town boasts of its charming medieval architecture, combined with riverside walks that are ideal for both pedestrians and cyclists, shopping streets, lovely parks, and gardens. Therefore, the city is an ideal destination for all types of travellers. Additionally, the town has lively and animated terraces, cafes, and bars where visitors can enjoy a drink or two.

It is unfortunate that even though there are many things to do in Metz, the city does not get the same recognition as the rest of the towns and cities in Grand Est. Unlike the other charming towns of Alsace, the posh champagne city of Reims, or the Christmas towns of Colmar and Strasbourg, Metz is not as popular. However, it combines elements of all these places, making it a unique destination for visitors.

Things to see in Metz - Temple Neuf at night

History of Metz, France 

Metz is one of France’s oldest cities and has a long and fascinating history. It was founded by the Gauls and later became a fortified Roman city. In 843, it became the capital of Lorraine. During the Middle Ages, Metz was a free city and later a Republic that enjoyed a period of prosperity and wealth. However, it was occupied by the French in the 16th century and later by the Germans during the Franco-Prussian War in 1870-71. 

During the 18th century, classical architectural ensembles were created, including Place de la Comédie, Place des Armes, and the Town Hall opposite the cathedral. In the early 20th century, the city underwent some transformation and saw the construction of the majestic train station in the Imperial District, the New Temple Church, and the Governor’s Palace. 

Due to its extensive history, Metz has a unique dual identity. After World War I, it was returned to the French, but the Germans once again occupied the city during World War II. After the war, it became French again. Despite its rich history and unique identity, Metz remains relatively unknown to tourists, making it a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Metz sculpture near Quai des Regates - Things to do in Metz

Things to Do in Metz, France

Stroll Through the Streets of Metz, France

Exploring the historic centre of Metz, France is a must-do activity. Follow the narrow cobblestone streets and marvel at the historical buildings. Don’t forget to visit Outre-seille, a historic district that is now part of the Ancienne Ville district. This area has maintained its medieval character and is definitely worth a visit.

Most of the city centre is pedestrian-friendly, which allows for a leisurely stroll through the streets and alleys. As you walk around, you will notice the town’s eclectic architecture, which is a result of its occupation by both France and Germany.

Admire the Metz Cathedral

Metz Cathedral from the south

The Saint Etienne Cathedral is one of France’s most beautiful Gothic-style cathedrals, so it’s no surprise that it’s on the list of things to do in Metz.  Construction of this magnificent structure started around 1250 on the basis of a preexisting Romanesque church and was completed in 1522. Due to the long period of construction, you can observe a blend of different architectural styles, sculptures, and stained glass windows. The façade of the cathedral was reconstructed in 1903 after a fire damaged it.

The cathedral is built with yellow-tinged Jaumont stone, making it one of the tallest in France. Painter Marc Chagall was among the artisans who crafted the church’s stained glass windows. The Metz Cathedral, also known as the Cathedral of Saint Stephen, boasts one of the highest naves in Europe, intricate stone carvings, and the longest expanse of stained glass windows.

The cathedral is illuminated during the summer. Please check the schedule via the Metz Tourist Office website.

As you explore Metz, you will also come across other religious monuments, such as the church of Saint-Maximin. It is best known for its blue windows, designed by Jean Cocteau, and is one of the main attractions in Metz.

Marvel at the Temple Neuf

The Temple Neuf (New Temple) Protestant church is a well-known Metz landmark captured in many photographs. It is situated on a beautiful island called Petit Saulcy in the Moselle River, and the best views of it can be had from the nearby Pont Moyen and Quai Paul Vautrin. 

Temple Neuf church in front of a body of water in Metz France

The church, designed in the neo-Romanesque style, was constructed in the 20th century when Metz was under German annexation. Its architecture is a departure from the other buildings in the area, especially the cathedral.

The church is surrounded by the Jardin de l’Amour (Garden of Love), which creates a serene atmosphere. It is an ideal place for a romantic walk or a relaxing break as you watch the boats go by on the river.

Metz Opera Theatre

Metz Opera-Theatre with lots of windows and a front garden

The Opéra-Théâtre de Metz was constructed in the mid-18th century and features a stunning neo-Classical design. With 750 seats, it is the oldest operational theatre in France. If you are looking for what to do in Metz and want to experience something unique, then visiting the Opéra-Théâtre de Metz Métropole and attending a show is a must-do activity. The theatre offers a diverse range of shows each year, including operas, comedies, ballets, and other operettas. The building is conveniently located at Place de la Comédie, near Temple Neuf.

Explore de Musée de la Cour d’Or

The Musée de la Cour d’Or, also known as the Golden Court Museum, is an excellent art and history museum that is definitely worth a visit. The museum boasts an extensive collection of items that showcase the rich history of Metz from the Roman and medieval times to the present day. 

It is believed that the museum is located on the site of the palace of the kings of Austrasia. The museum is a combination of an archaeological museum featuring an impressive array of Gallo-Roman and medieval art, a museum of medieval and Renaissance architecture, and a museum of fine arts.

One of the highlights of the museum is the Roman baths and a shrine dedicated to Mithras. Additionally, the museum boasts a Roman thermal bath complex, a Gothic granary, and a Baroque convent and chapel, all of which are sure to impress visitors. This is why the Musée de la Cour d’Or is among Metz’s top attractions. 

Have a drink in one of the many squares in Metz

As you stroll through the streets of Metz, you will come across several large squares, including Place de la Comédie and the Place Saint-Louis. The most popular among them is the medieval square of Place Saint-Louis, surrounded by medieval architecture, restaurants, and cafes with outdoor seating areas. 

Things to do Metz France - Place Saint-Louis
Place Saint-Louis

The square is very lively during the evening, and I can only imagine how busy it must be during warmer days. The houses and buildings around the square have a Renaissance style. During winter, the Metz Christmas market is mainly held here, although it also occurs in other places in the town.

Shop at the Metz Covered Market

Covered market in Metz France
Covered market

The covered market is situated on Place de la Cathédrale, just opposite the cathedral. The Marché Couvert is a delightful place to explore. The building, which was once a bishop’s palace, offers a broad range of local produce and delicacies. You can stroll around the various stalls and pick up some artisanal products to take home.

If you’re looking for other types of shopping, Metz is a great option. It boasts major shopping streets such as Rue des Clercs, Rue Serpenoise, and Rue Taison, as well as shops like Galeries Lafayette. You can browse French fashion or local products and fill your shopping bag. Additionally, there is a flea market located at the Metz Expo.

Appreciate the Porte des Allemands and ramparts

Porte des Allemands, the Gate of the Germans, is an old city gate in the medieval Outre-Seille district of Metz, France. The gate was built in the 13th century and was part of the city’s defence, along with the castle that bridged the Seille River. The ensemble, which consisted of 18 gates and 38 towers, was once part of the medieval ramparts that were 7km long. Although only a large part of the ramparts remains intact, visitors can still walk along them for over a kilometre along the Moselle River.

Contrary to the name suggests, the Germans did not build the gate. The name came about because the Germans controlled it during World War II. They modified the building, including adding a double helix staircase that allowed them to descend from the castle tower without crossing any enemy soldiers coming up the stairs at the same time. It was a clever move!

Visitors can walk through the towers and cross the bridge during the gate opening hours. Other fortifications like Porte Serpenoise, Porte de la Madeleine, and Porte en Chandellerue are also worth admiring.

Take a Boat Tour on the Moselle River

Boat Tour on the Moselle River
Metz marina

A boat tour on the Moselle River is one of the best things to do when in Metz, France. Not only does it offer a view of most of the city’s landmarks, but it also provides a different perspective. To begin this activity, head to the Quai des Régates. There are several tour companies to choose from, each offering excellent tour options ranging from 1-hour tours to longer excursions. Some companies also offer tours that include wine tastings or aperitifs. You can check out the tour companies through the Metz Tourist Office.

Relax in the Jardin de l’Esplanade de Metz or the Metz Botanical Garden

Metz is considered one of the greenest cities in France. Regardless of where you are in Metz, you will find a space where you can relax and unwind between sightseeing. One of the most popular spaces in town is the Esplanade, which was established at the end of the 18th century and was the first public space in Metz. 

The gardens and courtyards of the Esplanade are perfect for retreating and relaxing. Alternatively, close to the Centre Pompidou-Metz, the Jardins Jean-Marie Pelt is one of the more recent developments which allows you to discover the local flora while enjoying the freshness of the Seille River and its aquatic wildlife. Lastly, located further away is the Botanical Garden of Metz. The garden spans over 4 hectares and offers a variety of plants, flowers, and more.

Attend an Event at the Arsenal

The Arsenal Concert Hall, Metz France
The Arsenal Concert Hall

If you’re looking for a unique experience that goes beyond typical tourist activities, why not consider attending a classical music concert? In the vicinity of the Esplanade Garden lies the Arsenal building. Formerly a military facility for storing munitions, it has now been transformed into a performance hall dedicated to classical and contemporary music. Thanks to its construction, the building boasts exceptional acoustics. In fact, it is one of the largest concert halls in Europe.

Visit the Palais du Gouverneur Militaire

The Governor’s Palace was built in Metz between 1902 and 1905 as a residence for Emperor William II and an official residence for the military commander of that time. The Palais du Gouverneur Militaire appears more like a grand palace than a strict military building, with 31 habitable rooms and 70 ancillary rooms. It is a beautiful German construction made of Jaumont stone and located in the Esplanade district, between the Old Town and the New German Town, on the site of the old citadel. The barracks on the premises are still used to house a number of soldiers. 

Governor's Palace in Metz France
Governor’s Palace

At present, the Palace is occupied by the Military Governor General commanding the North-East military region. However, it is only possible to visit the building during Heritage Days.

Stop by the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains

A person standing in front of the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains
Garden of the Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains

The Basilica of Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains is considered to be one of the oldest churches in the world, with some parts of the building dating back to the 4th century. Initially, it was built as a Roman bath complex and later transformed into a Roman school, church, and warehouse. Over the years, the basilica has gone through several renovations and modifications. Nowadays, it serves as a cultural centre that hosts various performances and events. If you visit the church, you can witness its unique architecture and the remaining Roman features.

Imperial Quarter & Avenue Foch

Metz-Ville station, a   stone building with a clock tower
Metz-Ville station

As you stroll along the streets of the Imperial Quartier, you’ll get to witness some of the best examples of German architecture. In the late 19th century, Kaiser Wilhelm II envisioned creating a new imperial city, and this area is a result of his grand idea. Avenue Foch, the grand boulevard of Metz, exhibits a mix of architectural styles, including Art Deco, and Bavarian farmhouses. However, the Metz-Ville train station is the most prominent symbol of this city’s urban transformation. This stunningly beautiful train station opened in 1908 and is one of the most breathtaking examples of architecture in France. It blends together elements of neo-gothic, neo-renaissance, and neo-baroque styles.

Visit Centre Pompidou-Metz

The Centre Pompidou-Metz is a remarkable modern and contemporary art museum located in the newest part of the city between Metz-Ville train station and Parc de la Seille. It was built in 2010 by Jean de Gastines and Shigeru Ban, a duo of French and Japanese architects. Its unique design, reminiscent of a traditional Chinese hat, sets it apart.

Not only is the building itself incredible, but its design is also ingenious. The roof collects rainwater, which is then used to water the neighbourhood flowerbeds. The fibreglass and Teflon used on the roof also make it self-cleaning.

On the inside, the Centre Pompidou-Metz museum offers temporary exhibitions, shows, and conferences within its spaces. Visitors can explore the different exhibitions by starting from the ground floor and making their way up to the third floor.

This museum is the first regional wing of Paris’s Pompidou Centre, which houses Europe’s biggest modern art collection.

Take a Day Trip to Nancy

If you’re visiting Metz, France, make sure to take a day trip to the nearby cities of Nancy and Luxembourg. They’re both just a short train ride away and worth visiting.

Metz attractions - Day trip in Nancy France - Place Stanislas
Place Stanislas – Nancy

I decided to visit Nancy after watching a vlog about the city. I was amazed by the amount of things to do in Nancy, especially the stunning 18th-century Place Stanislas, which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its grand architecture. Nancy is known for its rich cultural heritage, including the Musée des Beaux-Arts, which houses an impressive collection of artworks spanning centuries. The city’s lively markets, charming cafes, and vibrant street life offer a delightful ambience for exploration.

Whether you’re interested in history or art or simply want to experience the French way of life, Nancy is a great destination. Moreover, it’s less than 40 minutes away from Metz by train.

Take a Day Trip to Luxembourg City

Metz attractions - Day trip in Luxembourg City
Luxembourg City

A day trip to Luxembourg from Metz, France, is an excellent opportunity to explore a different country’s history, culture, and scenic beauty. A short train ride away, Luxembourg City welcomes visitors with its UNESCO-listed old town, impressive fortifications, and picturesque views along the Alzette River. You can experience the country’s past with a visit to the Bock Casemates, explore the Grand Ducal Palace, and wander through charming, cobblestone-lined streets filled with cafes and boutiques.

Things to Do in Metz – Practical Information

Where is Metz

Metz is a city located in the northeastern region of France, specifically in the Moselle department. It is the capital of the Grand Est region, which was formerly known as Lorraine and is now joined with Champagne, Ardennes, and Alsace. The city is situated at the confluence of the Moselle and Seille rivers and is located northwest of Strasbourg, north of Nancy, and south of Luxembourg. Its ideal size makes it an excellent choice for a city break or a day trip from Paris, as it is only 85 minutes by train from Paris Gare de l’Est.

Map Metz France

Best Time to Visit Metz

The best time to visit Metz depends on your preference, as each season has its pros and cons. However, the most popular time for tourists is from mid-May to mid-September, which is the hottest and sunniest time of the year.

Summer, from June to August, is ideal for exploring outdoor attractions and enjoying the squares, as the weather is hot. However, there may be an overwhelming number of tourists towards the end of July and the beginning of August. So, if you plan on visiting during this time, make sure to book your accommodation in advance.

Spring, from April to May, is a good time to visit if you prefer exploring without the crowds, as it is a shoulder season for Metz. The temperatures are mild, but it can be wet.

Autumn, from September to November, is perfect for nature lovers. The weather is great for wandering along the Moselle River, and if you visit the Botanical Garden towards the end of October, you can admire the beautiful autumn leaves.

Winter, from December to March, may not be the best time to visit Metz unless you want to experience the Christmas market in December.

Metz attractions - attend the Graoully dragon festival
The Graoully dragon, the Terror of Metz

When planning to visit Metz, you can schedule a trip to coincide with one of the city’s annual festivals. These include:

Festival Mirabelle (June-August): This festival celebrates the mirabelle plum and features a range of activities such as dances, parades, street art, art workshops, local and craft markets, fireworks, concerts, shows, and the traditional election of the Queen of the Mirabelle. The festival also includes Metz Hot Air Balloons, a popular event where hot air balloons are gathered in the city centre and along the waterways.

Christmas Market (December): France’s second most visited Christmas market.

Festival Constellations (June-September): This summer art and culture festival focuses on digital arts. The Festival International Constellations is a summer event with free cultural activities like night tours, concerts, cinemas, exhibitions, and shows. The festival’s highlight is the Saint Étienne cathedral, illuminated by a light map.

Graoully Dragon Parade (June): This parade is based on the legend of a dragon named Graoully, who lived in the amphitheatre during the Roman Empire. People dress up in medieval costumes during the parade and follow a suggested route.

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Getting to Metz

If you are travelling from England, the most convenient option would be to take the Eurostar to Paris Gare du Nord and then transfer to Paris Gare de l’Est. From Gare de l’Est, you can either take a 15-minute walk or hop on the metro line 5 to reach Metz. 

If you prefer to travel by train, it will take you approximately 1 hour and 59 minutes to get from Paris Gare de l’Est station to Metz station. 

Metz is about 3 hours away from Paris via the A4 motorway if you are driving. If you are coming from Lyon or Luxembourg, the eastern A4 motorway is connected to the A31, which is less than 100 km from Luxembourg and 80 km from Nancy. 

If you are flying, you can fly into the regional airport Metz-Nancy-Lorraine, which is only 30 minutes away from Metz by shuttle bus. Alternatively, you can fly to Luxembourg-Findel Airport or Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport. You can take direct and connecting trains to Metz station from these airports.

Where to Stay in Metz

There are several accommodation options available in Metz, including the following hotels:

  • Hôtel La Citadelle – MGallery: It is situated in a former military building constructed in the 16th century. The hotel boasts splendid decor, and some rooms offer magnificent views of the cathedral. You can also enjoy dining at the Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Magasin aux Vivres.
  • Hôtel de la Cathédrale Metz: This hotel is located in the historic centre of Metz and is close to the cathedral.
  • Mercure Grand Hôtel Metz Centre Cathedrale: This hotel is located near the cathedral in an 18th-century Art Deco building. Although the rooms can be small, the hotel’s charm and proximity to the attractions make up for it.
  • Hôtel de Fouquet—Chambres d’hôtes: This historic 18th-century building is situated on Place Saint-Louis and offers rooms with a design that blends heritage and modernity.

Metz is a beautiful city that should be included on every tourist’s radar. I had a great time exploring its cobblestone streets, admiring the Cathedral of Saint Etienne and Pont Neuf, and strolling along the Moselle River. The city is perfect for a getaway due to its size, stunning architecture, green spaces, art museums, and friendly atmosphere. I believe Metz deserves more appreciation and a longer stay. If you’re planning a trip to the city, this guide will help you discover the things to do in Metz.

Have you had the chance to visit Metz, or is it still on your travel bucket list? Let us know in the comments below!

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Hi there! I'm Mayi. Welcome to my blog SecretMoona! I hope to share with you the hidden secret of places I visit.

10 thoughts on “Discover The Best Things To Do In Metz, France

  1. Gorgeous! France is so full of wonderful places like this with fabulous medieval architecture. I LOVE the shapes of the palais du Gouverneur Militaire, the temple neuf and those ramparts! You always find the best sights Mayi!

    p.s. I am sure there was a schnapps-based drink called Metz back in the 90s!? I wonder if it was made there!?

    1. Thanks Josy! I really enjoyed the German architecture too. I had no idea about the drinks, but after googling it, I found out that they were made in the UK. The drink never made it to France, or at least I had never heard of it.

  2. Great post! Metz sounds like a nice city, would love to check out the Christmas market and the Dragon festival!

  3. Metz looks like a perfect base to immerse yourself in the culture and to be able to explore more widely. Beautiful photos.

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