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)
Life & Style blogs
The Last of Us Remastered: Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Ebola outbreak: Why has a disease that's only ever killed 2,000 people captivated the darkest side of our imagination?
Ebola virus: UK health officials issue warning to doctors as experts admit the outbreak 'is not under control'
National Orgasm Day: Don't get caught up on climaxing
Ebola: UK is ready to deal with outbreak, says Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond
The secret report that helps Israel hide facts
Land for gas: Merkel and Putin discussed secret deal could end Ukraine crisis
Woman and two children killed by mob in riots over 'blasphemous' Facebook post in Pakistan
Putin is 'thuggish, dishonest and reckless', says British ambassador to US
Richard Dawkins tweets: 'Date rape is bad, stranger rape is worse'
Boozy, ignorant, intolerant, but very polite – Britain as others see us
- 1 Russell Brand accuses FOX News anchor Sean Hannity of terrorism after aggressive Israel-Gaza debate
- 2 Pope Francis issues top 10 tips for happiness – including don’t try to convert other people
- 3 Arturo Vidal to Manchester United: Midfielder set to force through move to Louis van Gaal's Red Devils - reports
- 4 Disney heiress Abigail disowns her share of family profits in West Bank company
- 5 Israel's propaganda machine is finally starting to misfire
- < Previous
- Next >
£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...
£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...
£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...