Temple Evangélique de la Garnison

Built at the beginning of the German annexation from 1875 to 1881, the construction of this church was overseen by soldiers (primarily Protestant) stationed in Metz.  Positioned across the Moselle from Cathédrale St Étienne, its 97m high façade, 1m higher than the Cathédrale's tour de Mutte, was a symbol of the Prussian presence that was visible everywhere.

For a region that has been German a few times, most recently less than a century ago, I met very few Metz natives who actually spoke German.  One worked in sales at the train station.  The other spoke German at his place of work in Geneva.

Damaged during World War II, then ravaged by fire in 1946, the three naves of this church were destroyed.  Only the tower of this neo-gothic building was preserved.

I was not a fan of gothic architecture, but now that I have seen examples of it in person, executed by craftsmen, I have developed an appreciation for it.  The temple was constructed of the local pierre de Jaumont stone.  The photo below is a daylight example of bare pierre de Jaumont on a more modern building, I think it was a house.  Its small, irregular stones had been plastered over at some point, as opposed to the custom cut slabs which were left bare on the church.


Getting Around

I am a walker.  If I can accomplish something within walking distance of home, I'll hoof it, rather than pull out my beloved midlife crisis convertible.  But if I actually have to leave town, I admit I drive rather than take the train, mainly because the commuter train near my house (Caltrain) comes only once every one to two hours during non-commute times (and they are cutting back service and raising fees at the end of this month), so every outing must be planned carefully.  It almost seems as though Caltrain does everything it can to discourage ridership.

I had no car in Metz, but on the days I left town for a day or two, I rode the train, rather than hire a car, for many reasons.  First and foremost, Europeans drive fast!  But also ... local trains (called the MetroLor in Lorraine) come more frequently, even during non-commute hours, the discount systems are better than those of any of the Bay Area's commuter rail systems, all their announcements are in multiple languages, and their speakers work, so you can hear the announcements.  Plus, I actually prefer to ride, rather than drive, because I can catch up on my reading.

Yep, I will miss the MetroLor.  A lot.


Open Sundays

I come from a land where retailers do their biggest business when others are not working, and food can be purchased 24 hours a day, every day.  So, one of the biggest culture shocks for me was discovering that French retailers are closed during lunch, on Sundays and all holidays.  Luckily, there were two markets within a five minute walk from my apartment which were open on Sundays, including Marché Plus, pictured (my scribbled additions in purple, lower right).

With my current "job" (in quotes because the company is unfunded and I work from home without pay in hopes it will be funded) the largest problem with the store hours issue was remembering the day of the week and holidays.  Thus, when I complained to my significant other, he granted nothing resembling sympathy!  Yes, he was right, I just needed to adjust to the system.

But I can also see how the system was built for those who have someone to call on, for partnerships where one partner manages the domestic realm while the other is out earning a living.  It was not built for those like me.  When I need something, the only one I have to call for help is myself, and handling little issues that can pop up unexpectedly would have been difficult if I had a standard office job.

I appreciate the mobility the path I have chosen has afforded me and am grateful for having met wonderful people.  But I also envy those who have a partner to come home to, someone with whom not only duties can be shared, but also little things that create happy memories -- walks, talks, dorky games, or just quietly enjoying each-others' company.  Sometimes I wonder if the system is right and I have chosen the wrong path, but even if that were true, I have depended solely on myself my entire adult life.  It would be very difficult to switch, now.


Walking along the Moselle

One of my favorite places to walk in Metz is along the Moselle. There is something soothing about being near the water for me. Where the river hits centre ville, the walkway along the banks turns into a wooden promenade, with a cement wall leading up to the streets above.

As I walked along the promenade one day, I noticed iron rings attached to the wall at different heights (photo). It took a few minutes for me to figure out the promenade is over the water and that the rings are old mooring rings. I do not know how long the promenade has existed or how long it has been since a boat tied up to one of these rings ... a few years? A few decades?


Life is for the living

I am hopelessly attracted to plants growing where they "shouldn't" be. There is something about the tenacity of a seed that manages to wedge itself into a crack in stone or cement, germinates, collects what nourishment it can in what seems a barren environment, and clings to life so beautifully. So when I happened upon this snapdragon growing out of the sidewalk near Place Saint Louis during one of my walks, I had to capture its image. On those occasions when life feels just a bit too overwhelming, images such as this remind me that improbable does not mean impossible.


Centre Pompidou - Metz

Named after former President Georges Pompidou, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, with its libraries, music institute, educational centers, and of course, its huge collection of modern art, is one of the most important centers for contemporary art in the world. Next year, the Centre is expanding its reach by opening a satellite campus in Metz. Like Parc de la Seille in my entry last week, the Centre is in the new Amphitheatre District of Metz, just opposite the train station, and about a 15 minute walk to the city center.

A project goal is to open the Centre's extensive collection to a wider audience. It will be interesting to see what effects traffic to the Centre has on the local economy, as well.

I walked by the construction site on my walk to Fort de Queuleu in May. It was still just a frame at that point. You can see its current state at the Centre Pompidou - Metz website, and the Centre Pompidou Information Page.


The Butcher, the Baker, the Candlestick Maker

Food and drink prices in Metz seem to be slightly lower than prices in the Bay Area. Okay, maybe that is an unfair comparison, but one thing that France offers in spades is an abundance of bakeries with offerings varying from satisfyingly crunchy baguettes, hearty multi-grain breads, flaky croissants, rich beignets, and decadent tartlets. Alas, the day of the small specialty bakery is pretty much dead in the U.S. They have been replaced by the bakery sections of the chain supermarkets.

I can think of four bakeries offhand within a three minute walk of my apartment. But the one I frequented most was José (and Eugénie) Soto around the corner, a small, family-run business (as most are). That's José smiling in the photo -- you can see him better if you click on the photo to enlarge it. I have mentioned before that the people are what make any place and any business special, and this is no exception. I was always greeted with a hello and a warm smile, and sent away with a thank you and have a nice day. I am a big fan of their baguettes.

José Soto Boulanger Patissier
31 rue Pasteur
57000 Metz
06 87 66 67 38


Parc de la Seille

Developed between 2000 and 2002, Parc de la Seille, on avenue de l'Amphithéâtre, was one of the first projects built in Metz's new Amphitheatre district, just south of the train station and the new Centre Pompidou. The paths meandering through the park pass along the Seille, through flower beds, and by the athletics facilities, where I shot baskets at the end of May with an after-school director and a local teen. This gold-toned giant needle is at the top of a hill in the Park. I took a bunch of photos, then walked all around it, looking for some kind of information on it, but got nothin' ... and I was starting to creep the sunbathers and couples out with my camera ... so, I can't tell you anything about it!

Parc de la Seille was developed not only as a pleasant spot for people to enjoy, but also as a preserve, and on the walks I have taken there, I have seen several species of birds flitting about ... alas, I know nothing about birds, so I can only say with a relative amount of certainty that I have seen crows (or is it ravens?) hopping about and a group of ducks making their way along the Seille. No photos of them, though. They moved too quickly!

The park has both raised beds with each species of flower in its own section, as well as wetlands bordering the river. This little blue flower at left was in the latter, and is about 2 cm (1 inch) in diameter, if that. In my Lorraine Flora album, there is also a vibrant orange flower of about the same size.

From the websites where I learned about its background, the Park has lighting, enabling night-time visits. Unfortunately, I never took the opportunity to do that, although I think I would have liked it. Learn more about Parc de la Seille...

- Mairi-Metz
- Tout-Metz
- Loisirs et Sorties