Metz

Capital of the Lorraine region, Metz sprung forth from the meeting of the Seille and Moselle rivers, in the most easterly part of France. Annexed by neighbouring Germany from 1871 to 1918, this historic city inspired the poet Paul Verlaine to scribble his "Ode to Metz". Since Gallo-Roman times, Metz has had a long and colourful history which can be seen in its many innovative buildings.

The stained glass windows in the Gothic Cathedral of Saint-Etienne in Metz which measure 6,500m² are among the most intricate in France. Designed over a period of several hundred years - from the 13th to the 20th century - Marc Chagall even had a hand in the design of some of them. Head down to the crypt, where you'll see the ferocious sculpture of the "Graoully": the "dragon of Metz". The dragon's "eyes were bigger than his belly" according to Rabelais, in his Fourth Book. But the brave Saint Clement, a missionary who had come to Metz sent the Graoully and his hoard of snakes packing, and they disappeared into the river Seille for ever (you may be relieved to know).

Despite the sunny yellow limestone brickwork used throughout the city, Metz is known as the "green city" for its many areas of urban green spaces and parks.

The Museums of Metz Metropole - Musées da la Cour d'Or is a set of museums which boast fine collections of art and archeology spread throughout the extensive Palace of Austrasia's kings.

Metz is a fascinating blend of ancient and modern: check out the Arsenal of Metz which combines history and modernity, after a redesign by Ricardo Bofill in 1989. The two rooms have accoustics of extraordinary quality and often host concerts of the highest quality, with performances by artists such as Philippe Jaroussky or Trisha Brown.

Metz now has a strong link with Paris, in the Pompidou-Metz Centre which opened there in May 2010. This stunning building, designed by French-Japanese duo Jean de Gastines and Shigheru Ban hosts, like its Parisian parent gallery, cutting edge modern and contemporary exhibitions and will have access to the Pompidou's substantial collection on a permanent basis.

When 200,000 people gather there must be something worth seeing, so stop by the Metz International Fair and find out for yourself. The international tennis circuit also has Metz on its itinerary: the Open de Moselle is held here. Come and cheer on your favourite players.

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