A Guide To Metz, A Historic Gem And The Most Underrated City In France

March 21, 2023

A small piece of land where German Kings once ruled, Crusading Knights used to build their palaces, and where the French live today, Metz is alive with history.

Metz might not be as famous as the nearby cities of Nancy, Reims, and Dijon, but personally I loved Metz more than the others. I think Metz is one of the most underrated cities in France, if not all of Europe. Filled with warm yellow architecture and one of the highest cathedrals in France, Metz is worthy of a visit at any time of the year.

I spent 2 months living and working in Lorraine and visited Metz quite often, and explored as much of this lively town as I could. Here’s what you should see if you visit the Grand Est Region of France and decide to stop by Metz.

Must-see sights in Metz, France

Place Saint-Louise

It’s impossible not to soak up a little history in Metz so if you’re a lover of such things (as I am), the town definitely won’t disappoint you. If you favor medieval architecture just head to the old town where you’ll find the medieval square with stunning Renaissance buildings. In the winter, it’s the site of the authentic Christmas Market as well.

Porte des Allemands

I’ve seen the Porte des Alleands on pictures before but it was even more breathtaking in person. Perched above the River Moselle, it’s a beautiful example of well-preserved fortifications dating back to the middle ages.

ramparts of the porte des Allemands in Metz on a clear day.

Église Saint-Maximin de Metz

The church of Saint-Maximin can be found in the old town as well. This beautiful Chapel with its Gothic ecclesiastical building is worth a wander inside, too. What I love in this church is how warm and welcoming it feels, and I am the kind of person who doesn’t feel comfortable in most churches. And an amazing fact: The later stained glass windows are by Jean Cocteau!

Metz Cathedral (Cathédrale St-Étienne)

In the center of the old town stands one of the tallest cathedrals in all of France. Some jaw dropping facts: The Roman Catholic ecclesiastical building was consecrated in 1552 and has one of the highest naves in the world. The Cathedral’s windows cover an area of an impressive 70,000 ft², making them the largest surface area of stained glass in France. (Yes, I read everything in case you wondered.) These stunning and stained glass windows include a picturesque blend of Renaissance, Gothic, and Modernist works by Marc Chagall, Theobald of Lixheim, and Charles-Laurent Maréchal, among others.

Metz Theatre 

The oldest extant theatre in France and its  still in operation for well over two hundred and fifty years! I didn’t get to see any of their plays which I really regret. How often do you get the chance to watch a play in such an old theatre?

Covered Marketplace (Marché Couvert)

One of my favorites along the markets of Inverness and Bilbao, the market offers every kind of fresh produce from Lorraine area and beyond. The historic marketplace is one of the oldest in all of France. Another reason to visit, not to mention its cheaper and way more fun than super markets.

Originally it was built as a bishop’s palace in the 18th-century, but the French Revolution broke out before the Bishop was able to move in. After the French Revolution, the citizens decided to transform the palace into a food market instead.

Temple Neuf & Jardin d’Amour

In the heart of Metz, overlooking river and just below the cathedral, stands the stunning Temple Neuf (new temple).

Just behind it, you’ll find the ‘garden of love’ which is the perfect spot to hang out in the summer months, gaze across the Moselle, and watch the world go by.

Église Saint-Pierre-aux-Nonnains

The oldest church in France is also found in Metz (seems like they did an awesome job preserving their buildings) and dates back to 390 CE. The building was first constructed as part of a Roman bath complex in the 4th-century. In the 600s, it was converted into a church, before being transformed into a warehouse in the 17th-century. Today, the church is used as a cultural centre and exhibition hall and a visit here is easily one of the best things to do in Metz on a rainy or cold day.

Centre Pompidou-Metz

The trendy Centre Pompidou-Metz is quite new and it’s the younger sibling of the iconic Centre Pompidou in Paris. Located in the heart of the city, not far from the central train station, the art centre hosts various exhibitions all year-round.

Avenue Foch

This beautiful avenue is very diverse in historic art nouveau villas on the sides and a footpath in the middle, meandering through hedges and flower beds.

Gare de Metz

The city’s train station is preserved as an historic monument and was built during Metz’s German era. The wondrous building was ordered by Wilhelm II and designed in Rhenish Romanesque revival style.


These marvelous gardens follow the course of Metz’s old defenses, on the site of a vast ditch filled in after the citadel was pulled down in 1816. In these French gardens with geometric lawns and trimmed hedges trimmed you can look out to Mont Saint-Quentin. The Esplanade is the life and soul of Metz’s city celebrations. During carnival time the fair takes place here, Mirabelle Fair in the summer and an ice skating rink at winter.

Where to eat?

After walking around so much, you’ll be hungry. Don’t worry, the local Lorraine cuisine will satisfy you. It will be a bit hard to find something to eat if you live with Celiacs disease as I do, since the French are not famous for gluten-free options. Fortunately, veganism seemed to be more accessible there.

There’s plenty of fine restaurants too (Thai, Italian, Turkish, etc). When I was there almost everything was closed and I wasn’t  able to dine in because of my Celiacs. But vegan options are available everywhere so you’ll have to try  your luck. Fox Cafe is a great choice for a coffee stop.

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Photo: (Porte des Allemands) Marc Ryckaert / Naamsvermelding vereist via Wikipedia commons; (rest) Imola Toth

Imola is a Hatha and Ashtanga yoga teacher, tree planter and writer and editor of Raised by the Wolf, an online magazine for Wild Women, with a passion for exploring and life outdoors. Originally from Hungary but currently planting trees and rewilding the enchanting forests of France. Hop over to RBTW magazine, and blog and follow her on Instagram @yogiraisedbythewolf


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