What You Need To Know
In the 5th-3rd century B.C., a tribe of Celts called Mediomatrici settled on the oppidum in the Hauts de Sainte-Croix. The town, known as Divodurum by the Romans, then Mettis in the 4th century and Metz in the 6th century, was a major Gallo-Roman city. Thermal baths, an aqueduct and an amphitheatre were among its landmarks. Attila put an end to this period of prosperity by burning down the city in 451.
Metz became capital of the kingdom of Austrasia under the Merovingians in the 6th century, then a religious and cultural capital under the Carolingians, and joined the Holy Roman Empire in the 10th century. The imperial city was ruled by a prince-bishop until 1179. Bishop Bertram granted the citizens of Metz a charter of franchise, thus enshrining the Messin Republic.
Having become a Republic, Metz experienced its most prosperous period until the 15th century. In 1552, the city of Roman culture agreed to be placed under French protection. Its attachment to France was enshrined in the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. Metz became the capital of the Province of the Three Bishoprics. The monarchy entrusted it with the task of defending the French territory. Under Louis XV, the Duke of Belle-Isle remodelled the city.
After being annexed by Germany in 1871, the city was transformed. The Germans built a double ring of forts, destroyed ramparts that had become unnecessary and created the “nouvelle ville” or “new town” around a new station. Metz became French again in 1918 and experienced a second German annexation from 1940 to 1944. Open to Europe and the technologies of tomorrow, Metz, capital of Lorraine, now combines its passion for contemporary art with its commitment to the values inherited from its past.
Area: 41.94 km²
- The Euro (EUR) is the official currency in France. Currency can be exchanged at banks, bureaux de change and some large hotels, though you will get a better exchange rate at the ATMs. Major credit cards are widely accepted, particularly in major tourist destinations. Foreign currency is not accepted.
The climate of Lorraine is a semi-continental climate. The summers are warm and humid, sometimes stormy, and the warmest month of the year is July, when daytime temperatures average approximately 25 °C (77.0 °F). The winters are cold and snowy with temperature dropping to an average low of −0.5 °C (31.1 °F) in January. Lows can be much colder through the night and early morning and the snowy period extends from November to February.
Most of Lorraine has a clear French identity, with the exception of the northeastern part of the region, today known as Moselle, which historically has had an ethnic German, and German-speaking, population.
Traditionally, two languages are native to Lorraine. The first is Lorrain, which is a moribund minority Romance language spoken in southeastern Lorraine. The second is the Germanic Lorraine Franconian, a group of three Franconian dialects independently surviving in northern and western Lorraine.
Like most of France’s regional languages (e.g. Breton, West Flemish, Catalan, Provençal, and Alsatian), Lorrain and Lorraine Franconian have largely been replaced in use by French. For more than a century, nationalistic policies of the central government required public schooling to be conducted only in French. Now, however, there are efforts being made to revive Lorraine Franconian, whose linguistic vitality is still relatively high. Recent efforts include the use of bilingual signs in Franconian areas, and Franconian-language classes for young children whose parents can no longer speak their ancestral language.
Health and security
- The French health care system is one of universal health care largely financed by government national health insurance. In its 2000 assessment of world health care systems, the World Health Organization found that France provided the “close to best overall health care” in the world. In 2011, France spent 11.6% of GDP on health care, or US$4,086 per capita, a figure much higher than the average spent by countries in Europe but less than in the US. Approximately 77% of health expenditures are covered by government funded agencies.Most general physicians are in private practice but draw their income from the public insurance funds. These funds, unlike their German counterparts, have never gained self-management responsibility. Instead, the government has taken responsibility for the financial and operational management of health insurance (by setting premium levels related to income and determining the prices of goods and services refunded). The French government generally refunds patients 70% of most health care costs, and 100% in case of costly or long-term ailments. Supplemental coverage may be bought from private insurers, most of them nonprofit, mutual insurers. Until 2000, coverage was restricted to those who contributed to social security (generally, workers or retirees), excluding some poor segments of the population; the government of Lionel Jospin put into place universal health coverage and extended the coverage to all those legally resident in France. Only about 3.7% of hospital treatment costs are reimbursed through private insurance, but a much higher share of the cost of spectacles and prostheses (21.9%), drugs (18.6%) and dental care (35.9%) (figures from the year 2000). There are public hospitals, non-profit independent hospitals (which are linked to the public system), as well as private for-profit hospitals.
- Metz is quite a safe town. Avoiding suburbs like Borny or St Eloy, and the old town’s small alleys by night is, however, recommended.
In the centre, some people are likely to ask you to give them a cigarette or even use of your mobile phone.
As in all french cities, the health system is free and if you are in trouble don’t hesitate to call the SAMU (number: 15) to get an ambulance.
As with anywhere in the world it is about taking simple steps to make sure you are not a victim of crime. Don’t wear expensive jewellery. Be discreet with smart phones and ipads and certainly don’t leave anything of value on display in your hire car. Avoid unlit streets, take care when in crowds, pickpockets operate everywhere in the world.
- Lots of countries have a bustling 24/7 mentality where shops and services are always open for the convenience of their customers. This is not necessarily the case in France, especially in smaller towns. They take their breaks and work/life balance seriously. Many French shops close from 12:00 to 2:00 for a leisurely, civilized lunch lull – profits be damned. Some banks, post offices, museums and other places of business do too. Most things are closed on Sundays, and there are 10 Public Holidays that also shut down commercial activity. Lots of businesses take a few weeks off in July or August for their annual summer holiday, and frequent strikes can disrupt certain services. Popular tourist areas may stay open, and restaurants are more accommodating, but you should always double-check the opening hours and closing days before heading out for a shopping spree or errand run.
- Strolling through a local fruit and vegetable market is one of the many simple pleasures awaiting you in France. Everything is so fresh, so appealing, so artfully displayed, perusing and purchasing produce can be a highlight of your trip. However, be forewarned that poking, prodding or picking up the goods is a big non-non here. There’s an unspoken hands-off policy at a French marché . Let the vendor pick up the produce for you, and just point if you want to select a specific item.
- One of the most beautiful theaters in France, the Theatre de la Comédie is also the oldest working opera house in France. Founded in 1752, the building features classical architecture typical of the 18th century. The opulent auditorium has red velvet seats and ornately decorated gilded balustrades. The statues depicting the muses were made by the local sculptor Charles Pêtre in 1858. Originally the theater had seating for more than 1,300 guests, however it now has 750 seats after an update in 1963. The intimate space offers perfect viewing from any seat. The theater presents a wide array of performances throughout the year, from classical music and ballet to traditional French theater such as Molière.
The theater lies on the grand Place de la Comédie, a beautiful square lined with elegant 18th-century Neoclassical buildings and the Eglise Saint-Vincent. This area, known as the Quartier des Iles, is the quarter of Metz that consists of the islands in the Moselle River. Continuing further into the neighborhood offers a rewarding experience that is surprisingly undiscovered by most tourists. The atmospheric narrow lanes lead to beautiful old buildings and picturesque canals.
- Visit Saint-Maximin Church, the simple exterior does not prepare visitors for the rare beauty of this exquisite church, which dates back to the 12th century. The stunning interior features 24 stained-glass windows made by surrealist artist Jean Cocteau in the 1960s. Whimsical, colorful, and poetic, the windows are a masterwork of creativity and craftsmanship. Pastel blue, green, pink, yellow, and lavender-hued windows flood the church with a brilliant glow in contrast to the somber sanctuary.