Thursday 15th April 2010 Weather:-Hazy/0vercast-4 to 13 degrees
Blois to Metz 507k=4:35h
An 8 am departure from our hotel in Blois saw us driving through a light mist with 4 degrees of coolness outside. Today was the longest drive of this trip through Europe and we were not really looking forward to it because part of our drive just by-passes Paris and after our last experience when picking Peter up we knew to expect traffic jams; we were not let down, at least 15k of traffic jam was our pleasure today. Driving through France we find a lot of sameness in the surroundings. All the houses are mainly a dirty shade of cream with black tiled roofs and they must adore their peeling window shutters. On a sunny day that may look graceful but on a cold misty day it certainly does not add any cheer to the surroundings. Most of the trip though was driven in record time on superb roads so I had better not grumble too much and as we got closer to Metz (although it is still in France) you could see some German influences creep into the architecture—things were starting to look cheerier with coloured houses and some terracotta roofs.
A lot of tight little alleyways confused Tom-Tom and its disciple in finding our hotel (nearly on a little bridge) so we shot into the nearest car parking garage and as luck would have it we had struck the right car park for our hotel. Herman had not seen pictures of the place that we are staying at tonight (l'Hotel du Theatre-Metz) so it was nice to hear his comments of admiration from behind me as we were entering the lobby. The inevitable question was asked "could you give me your code for your Wi-Fi" and immediately we were upgraded to a room with computer cabling. I think I will move in permanently!!!
A visit to Metz begins with the Cathedral of Saint-Etienne, so as not to upset the applecart we did the same. It is a beautiful Gothic-style church and must be one of the biggest churches that I have ever been in. It was started around 1250 and the project was completed in 1522, I'll bet that they lost count of the site supervisors on that one; the façade was rebuilt in 1903. The interior measures 123 meters long by 42 high. Well known throughout the world are the stained glass-windows at this cathedral that date from various periods (XIV-XX century): the most recent are a work by Jacques Villon (1957) and Marc Chagall (1960-71). I was awestruck with all the intact detailing on the outside and I hope that I have not bored you with too many photographs but for me all the intricate workmanship on the outside and the beautiful stained glass windows make it a very special place.
A trip back to the hotel allowed me to log on yesterday's news to the journal while Herman had a siesta after his long stretch behind the wheel today. The night beckoned us to go out for an evening passigiata, we were half expecting to find a deserted town centre but we were wrong by a long shot; young people were everywhere, all the bars and restaurants were full to overflowing with long line ups to get into the car parks but our real pay off was that all the public buildings were brilliantly lit up so a fast trip back to the hotel to pick up Herman's camera and above you will see a few of the results.