Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Icicles on the gargoyles.

Day 211 10.02.13 Metz

We get up early and make the most of some more time online and of course more hot showers! It really is the last minute when we close up the room to leave, not that there appears to be a checking out process?!   We get the van ready and drive over to the aire closer to Metz centre, which despite being only a couple of kilometres, is a nightmare journey.

Metz is the umpteenth French city about to get a tram network and as a result huge swathes of road have been dug up and much of the city outskirts are inaccessible.  We spend a ludicrous amount of time trying to get to the aire before giving up in a large but paid for carpark.  Chris waits with the van whilst I go off to figure out where the hell we should be going.  I find the aire and about 6 other campers but tracing the route back to Van Diesel gets impossible and I return to the van grumpy, cold and clueless after getting more than a little lost!  We drive out of the carpark only to find ourselves stuck in a seemingly infinite loop of left turns thanks to a series of diversions.  It’s the third time around before we spot a car who has found the exit; apparently you need to drive around the barriers and onto the pavement to escape!!!  We squish Van Diesel through and then we’re out onto road I recognise and manage to navigate the route over to the aire.  It’s a quiet riverside spot only a short walk from town and we’re pleased to finally get there! 

After grabbing some lunch we head out to look around town.  It a freezing cold day but the bright blue skies lift our spirits, it’s been a while since we’ve seen much of those.  Across the river our first sight is the lovely Temple Neuf which juts out into the river.  The frontage has a great deal of lovely stone work as well as some rather odd purple(?) ironwork. 

Onwards into town you cannot miss the humongous cathedral with, at a gigantic 42 metres, one of the highest naves in Europe.  It towers beautifully over much of the town, a real jaw-dropping sight.  It is incredibly well maintained and very clean looking.  It’s so cold today that even the gargoyles have icicles hanging from their mouths!  You can’t help but be taken aback by the sheer scale of this stunning building, it really is magnificent.

Inside we are once again amazed, the height of the ceiling is dizzying!  The tall stained glass windows apparently have a whopping surface area of 6500m2.  They are a mix between traditional religious designs and rather funky abstract modern designs.  Both fill the interior space with a vivid array of colours on this sunny day.

Elsewhere in town there are a number of very pleasant churches although most of them have wide-scale refurbishments going on at the moment. Strolling away from the main streets we find ourselves in a residential area with some gorgeous Art Deco houses with beautiful detailing.  It’s a very nice area indeed and every residence has a uniquely attractive fa├žade. 

We make our way over to the far side of town and the ‘Porte des Allemands’ gate on the river.  This old fortification has pointed towers and strong turreted walls.  There is nothing left of the interior but the external walls continue to stand proudly over the water that rushes through underneath the main archway.  It’s a great reminder of the history of the town and looks lovely against todays blue sky. 

We make our way back through town via some more churches, the highlight being the elegant Saint Segolene.  The sky is starting to turn dark by this point and we’re pretty tired from all the walking so we head back to the van for dinner and a movie or two.  The temperature is dropping yet further and the snow is starting as we turn in for a chilly night.  Can we go back to the hotel room now?!

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