Destination Run: Running the Streets of Historical Metz, France
I’m quite biased to the 24th largest city in France called Metz, because, well, I live here. Outside the hustle and bustle of Paris, many tourists would miss this gem of a city which is located within the Moselle department of northeast France, acting as the capital city in the Lorraine region. An hour and twenty-minute train ride east of Paris, a 2-hour train ride west of Strasbourg, and an hour train ride south of Luxembourg makes this city a hub for commuters and families alike.
Known as the city of gardens, Metz takes pride in its appearance with its 19 combined public river walks, parks and gardens. Besides the natural beauty, you’ll find interesting, combined modern as well as ancient and gothic architecture, including a cathedral that has the largest expanse of stained glass in the world.
Metz has quite the history with originating ties to the Roman Empire, and later, a more complex history of ownership between France and Germany until the end of World War II. At this point, the city was saved by the US Third Army from the German Third Reich. Because of its close German influence, the pronunciation of Metz to this day is still divided between Mess (German) and Mets (France).
A cultural city, Metz should be on any day visit itinerary for tourists and especially for runners who like to combine history and natural beauty. A very viable option to explore the city is with the public city bicycle transport systems, but for those of you who like to explore the city by foot, I’ve taken the liberty to mapping out a couple of sightseeing route options for you.
For those who like old & new (~10km)
Starting at Fort Queuleu, an old fort once used once by the Germans as a detention center, you’ll pass along the circular dirt paths which now encircles a new park with playground and obstacles to practice along the run. Upon exiting the fort, you’ll pass through a couple of quaint French neighborhoods before finding a bridge that will take you over the River Seille. Find the footpath along the river, head north until you reach a pedestrian footbridge, which is where you will make a left to a street where a new shopping plaza called Muse will be on your left and the modern art museum with its intricate mesh woodworking and circus-like roof will be on your right. Go right past the museum until you meet up with the river again. Now is the time to cross over the pedestrian footbridge and head south about 3km and make a left into Parc du Pas du Loup that has an uphill. The trek will be worth it for the city views at the top. Stay approximately straight through the parc to a side street for another mile that will eventually finish your trip back at Fort Queuleu.
For those who want to see ALL of the city center (~6km)
This loop encircles the city center and starts and ends at Porte des Allemands, remnants of medieval walls that looks like a small castle. Starting here you will pass through a small path with old protective walls on your left and the River Seille on your right until you get to a point where you will turn abruptly left and find that Metz has two rivers and you the continuation of the route will now be next to the River Moselle. Follow until you get to a small set of stairs and take a right over the pedestrian footbridge crossing the river. In front of you will be Place de la Comedie (The Opera House) and on the left is the Temple Neuf. Pass in front of the temple until you see a parc and take a left in front of the park heading into the campus of University Lorraine. Cut through the campus until you see a highway and take a left on the footpath where you will see a lake on your left. From a distance, you will see the Cathedral of Saint Stephan of Metz or the Metz Cathedral. Follow the path along the water until you have made your way behind the Temple Neuf. Take a right on the street by the temple and this will pass you in front of the massive Gothic Cathedral. Stay relatively straight for about a little less than 2km and you will find yourself back at Porte des Allemands.
For those interested in running races in Metz
This June will be the inaugural Half Marathon called La Temeraire and every October is the Marathon Metz Mirabelle. There are plenty of other distance runs throughout the year including trail races and triathlons within the city and surrounding neighborhoods. It’s a city welcoming of all abilities and levels, encouraging healthy lifestyles. And if you come, be sure to say hi!