Metz is about an hour away from Ramstein and a great introduction to France’s cuisine and culture. Head there by car or join one of the USO’s tours to the city.
Metz itself is the perfect size to explore on a day trip. The area around the beautiful Cathedral of Saint-Étienne (Saint Stephen) is easily explored on foot, but be sure not to miss stepping into the cathedral itself.
Saint-Étienne de Metz is one of the tallest cathedrals in France and a gorgeous part of this historic city center. When we visited the city, it was free to enter and explore, but be sure to be respectful of those visiting the cathedral for prayer. Concerts often take place at Saint-Étienne as well.
Even if you’ve already explored the beautiful Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, Saint-Étienne’s stained glass windows are mesmerizing. The ones near the back of the cathedral (turn right upon entering and head to the far end) are produced by the famous Russian artist Marc Chagall. The windows are in his classic style and quite unlike anything we had seen in other European cathedrals.
Once you are finished exploring inside, head back into the streets for a bite to eat at one of many cafes or restaurants, or shop to your hearts content. Like many cities in Europe, tourist-heavy restaurants and big-name stores are on the main streets, while wandering into the back streets will give you a more authentic bite to eat or shopping experience.
If you haven’t yet made it to the Pompidou modern art museum in Paris then head to its companion museum in Metz for an afternoon of the avant-garde. The museum itself is a sight to behold with it’s modern architecture and grounds.
If you haven’t eaten in France yet, you’ll find that most of the nicer restaurants have “set menus” for dinner, and often, lunch. This means the menu is a set price for several courses, which the chef has chosen in advance. Give yourself over to an afternoon or evening meal with starter, one or two main courses and dessert. Though the initial price may give you sticker shock (depending on the caliber of restaurant you’ve chosen), remember that all courses are listed and included in the price and the food is almost always impressive.
It is not uncommon to receive an “amuse-bouche” (pronounced “ah-moos-boosh”) when you sit down to a nice meal in France. This small but tasty bite is the chef’s way of welcoming you to the restaurant and is one of our favorite things about French cuisine! There is no charge for this, so don’t refuse it! Say “merci” (thank you) and settle in to an evening in France.
There are several parking garages near the city center, just keep an eye out for the signs as you head in. Prices were reasonable, and if you park near the cathedral, you’ll find yourself within walking distance of the local attractions and a wide variety of shopping and restaurants.
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For more great places to visit in Germany and around Europe, visit www.militaryingermany.com.