ECLIPSE WATCH: THERE'S STILL TIME TO FIND YOUR SPOT OUT OF THE SUN
Saturday 07 August 1999
You realise this as soon as you step off the train at the monumental railway station, built by occupying forces in the late 19th century as a symbol of imperial greatness and benevolent craftsmanship.
The foundations were laid 3,000 years ago when Celtic tribes created a Bronze Age settlement on a small hill where the Seille flows into the Moselle.The Romans later made the settlement into a strategic fort. Today the city's biggest draw is the Cathedrale St Etienne, an immense 13th- century Gothic edifice of yellow sandstone and exquisite glasswork. Its commanding silhouette dominates the skyline; inside there are glorious stained-glass windows. The most recent was designed by Marc Chagall, to such luminous effect that the cathedral is poetically dubbed La Lanterne du Bon Dieu, "the Lantern of God".
The city also boasts France's oldest surviving church, St Pierre de Nonnains, which was built in the fourth century AD on the site of a Roman court. Next to it, the Napoleonic military store known as the Arsenal has been beautifully renovated and transformed into a concert hall and art gallery.
There is more to entertain the eye in the pedestrianised city centre: street markets in small squares, family-run patisseries (with cakes to diet for), the arched passageways off place St Louis, and fabulous facades at almost every corner. Across Pont des Roches, the grandiose place de la Comedie houses France's oldest functioning opera house.
The Moselle winds through the city, pocked by islands and bordered by parks - plenty of room for everyone on Wednesday. For yet more open space, a few miles south west of Metz is another pleasant surprise; the vast Lorraine Natural Park, with rambling, fishing and riding opportunities, and the ideal place to see the sun go out.
The travel desk has spent most of the week failing to get through to Rail Europe (0990 848 848) to check availability and fares; in the end German Railways (0171-317 0919) gave details and is happy to sell tickets if available. If you travel on Tuesday 10 August, on Eurostar from London Waterloo, and change trains from Paris Gare du Nord to Gare de l'Est, the lowest fare is pounds 161 return.
Kevin-Barry Trindles paid 490F (pounds 51) for a double room at the Hotel du Theatre, Port St Marcel (00 33 3 87 31 10 10)
educationTo mark International Women's Day, Sarah Brown on how charities have brought proper joined-up thinking to the delivery of education
Life & Style blogs
The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
Satoshi Nakamoto unmasked: Report claims bitcoin inventor is 64-year-old coder living in Los Angeles
Private school refuses to readmit anorexic pupil because her presence would be 'too disruptive to the rest of the year group,' mother claims
'It's brusquely intimate': A bereaved daughter tackles the task of emptying her father's flat
Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
- 4 Man stabbed with Legend of Zelda Master Sword in serious condition
- 5 Study suggests that 'gaydars' are real - at least for women
£1000 per month: Inspiring Interns: Our client is a start-up mobile app develo...
£6.31 per hour: Inspiring Interns: This growing predictive analytical software...
Negotiable: Randstad Education Cambridge: Randstad Education is the largest ed...
£18000 - £25000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Geoenvir...