Like many Parisians, I suffer from a bit of a superiority complex. Growing up in the most beautiful city in the world, I sometime forget that there is more to France than its capital. What we Parisians typically lump together as “la Province” (ie. everywhere outside of Paris) is actually comprised of 21 independent regions, each with its own history, traditions, gastronomy and tourist attractions. Lorraine, in the North East of France, is one of these regions. Until recently it was mainly ignored by pretty much everyone but die-hard quiche lovers. Today, however, even the snobbiest Parisians are planning weekend or day trips to the capital city of Lorraine: Metz And yes, that includes me.
Why the sudden change in touristic fortune? Well, there are two main reasons. The first is that it is now a lot easier and quicker to travel there. By TGV (France’s awesome fast train system), Metz is now a mere 82 minutes from Paris. The second reason is the recent opening of Pompidou-Met. Three months only after its inauguration, the provincial offspring of Paris’ Musee National d’Art Moderne (also known as Beaubourg or Pompidou Museum) has already welcomed more than 300,000 visitors. Inspired by the success of Tate Liverpool or Guggenheim Bilbao Pompidou is the first Parisian institution to export its name, collection, and expertise to a satellite branch in a province.
examines the notion of the masterpiece, past, present, and future, through an exceptional selection of almost eight hundred works of art, most of them loaned by Pompidou-Paris. One of the highlights of visiting the new space is also the views it offers onto the city of Metz, particularly from one of the museum’s three rectangular, projected boxes that face the city’s main historic attractions. The Cathedrale de Metz with its 41.41 meters nave (the third tallest in France) is, after all, nothing short of a masterpiece itself.
[Update: I did visit Lens a few months after the Louvre opened and you can read my thoughts on that one here]