With its location on the confluence of the Moselle and Seille, rivers are as entwined in the history and culture of Metz as they are with the buildings downtown. Join Kaitlyn as she explores the heart of Metz in a way she hasn’t before — afloat. Read more in her latest blog post!
Tuesday, April 27, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn
What better way is there to spend a beautiful, sunny Saturday afternoon devoid (with the exception of the ECE homework I was avoiding) of responsibilities than on a trip downtown in Metz?
Since the French lockdown began, my friends and I have been looking for places to explore while staying within the allowed 10km of our dorms. Luckily, downtown Metz is within this radius, so when we discovered that a boat rental place downtown we set a plan in motion for an afternoon on the river.
The rental company is called La Flottille, and is only a few minutes walk from Republique Square, the center of Metz. La Flottile has all sorts of boats, but since there were four of us, we decided on renting a four-person paddle boat. The worker brought us onto the dock and handed us each a bright orange life jacket. There’s no doubt in the world that we looked extremely goofy with the giant life jackets swallowing us, but of course, safety first.
A few seconds later, and we were seated in the boat and already pedaling our way down the river towards Temple Neuf. It was really neat to see Metz from this perspective; we’d seen the city from our many walking tours, but never from the water!
A brave family of three very large ducks came extremely close to our boat. It seemed like we were about to run them over, so we had to frantically change direction. Luckily, the ducks escaped unharmed and continued on their merry way to pester other boaters for food.
Cruising our way down the river, we saw a small gap in between the buildings that we could enter via a narrow canal. We floated underneath a footbridge to check out the space; it felt like a quiet courtyard, but one filled with water rather than grass. I’ve never been, but the area gave me strong Venice vibes. Swap the fluorescent yellow paddle boat for a gondola and we would basically be on a canal in Venice, right? Due to the tight nature of the space we were in, it was just a little bit complicated to get out of there. We played bumper cars with the walls for a couple minutes in our attempt to exit the canal.
We continued down the river, as far as we could go. The rest of our boat ride took us underneath three different bridges, one of which was so short that I was able to reach up and touch the underside of the bridge.
There’s a lot more to discover; we didn’t have a chance to go in the opposite direction toward the Plan D’Eau, so we’ll probably be back soon after our legs recover from the slightly strenuous pedaling!
Boulangeries, patisseries, et fromageries, oh my! France is known for its amazing bakeries, cheeses, butchers, and markets and while studying in Metz all of these are a short walk (or bus ride) away. Join Kaitlyn and her friends as Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s Professor Dr. Vicki Birchfield shows them her favorite spots in Metz!
Tuesday, April 20, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn
*Disclaimer: Kaitlyn was not paid to endorse any of the businesses mentioned in this article, nor does Georgia Tech endorse any of these businesses.*
This past weekend, INTA professor Dr. Birchfield took a few of my friends and I downtown to check out some of her personal favorite bakeries, delis, and fromageries in Metz!
We first met at the train station, right underneath the newly constructed statue of Charles de Gaulle. Being an expert on all things EU, Dr. Birchfield regaled us with a brief history lesson on de Gaulle and his prominence in this area of France, specifically due to his history of being a colonel while posted in Metz.
Across from the train station is Le Moy, a family owned shop specializing in chocolates and pastries. According to Dr. Birchfield, Le Moy has the best pain au chocolat in town, which is pretty high praise, considering we’re in France! My friends and I sampled the Paris-Metz, a cake that was created during a competition organized by the mayor to celebrate the opening of the TGV line from Metz to Paris. It’s a three-color macaron, filled with harlequin candy mousseline and raspberries. We all agreed that it was the most delicious pastry we had eaten in Metz. Le Moy is so close to the train station every Georgia Tech-Lorraine student should visit this exquisite shop, and try this classic Metz pastry.
Next up was Boulangerie Poulard, which was dubbed the “hottest new bakery in town”! This boulangerie has won several competitions for having the best croissants and baguettes in this region of France. In fact, it was a finalist in the competition for best bakery in France. The owner and chief baker, Seydou Diallo, has two shops: one on Rue du Grand Cerf, and one of Rue Perrat (just a block away from the train station). We picked up a classic, baguettes, from Boulangerie Poulard. It was pretty much everything a French baguette should be, so I can see why this bakery is one of the city’s favorites! Boulangerie Poulard is also a designated “Agriculture Biologique” boulangerie, meaning that it utilizes products from organic farming. This label identifies a bakery as being respectful of the environment, animal welfare, and biodiversity. Boulangerie Poulard has award winning baguettes and environmental conscientiousness; what more can you ask for in a bakery?
We took a shortcut through the city center to get to the other side of town, to a street called Rue du Grand Cerf. Dr. Birchfield informed us that this is “the best street for food shopping in Metz”. We first stopped by a deli, Au Veau D’or, also known as Maison Heitzman. They specialize in deli meats like sausages, but they also have charcuterie and roasted chicken for takeaway. They offer classic French cuisine in the form of a warm Plat du Jour for well under 10 euros.
Directly next to Maison Heitzman is a small shop, Prime Primeurs, that sells the regional products of Lorraine. Here, you can purchase things like fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as French jams and beverages.
Also along Rue du Grand Cerf is Dr. Birchfield’s second favorite patisserie, Boulangerie Fort (after Poulard). She recommends trying the pain tradition “la festive” and the quiche Lorraine from this bakery.
If you’re a cheese fan, you’re in luck. Also on this street (see how it’s living up to its reputation as the biggest street for food in Metz?) is La Fromagerie du Grand Cerf, a cheese shop run by a former pro footballer. He is passionate about sourcing his cheeses from smaller and more specialized producers. Not too far away, just off Place Saint Jacques is her other favorite fromagerie, Conrad, a very classic, family-run cheese shop with three locations in Metz that have been operating since 1920.
Our little food tour of Metz ended here, but it wasn’t the end of Dr. Birchfield’s recommendations. She suggests visiting the Marché de Saint Therese on a sunny Sunday. The market has stalls that sell warm meals (think roasted chicken, pizzas, calzones, and galettes), cheese, fruits, and vegetables. From there, on your way to the botanical garden, where you can enjoy your freshly prepared food at a picnic table, you can pick up baguettes and pastries from the fantastic L’Ecrin Gourmand.
Of course, this is nowhere near an exhaustive list of the amazing food options in Metz, but hopefully it inspires you to explore the iconic French cuisine that is practically in your backyard during your time at Georgia Tech-Lorraine!
Delicious restaurants, mystifying paintings, mosaic tiles, and canoes: the city of Madrid has all this and so, so much more. Join Kaitlyn on her latest adventure to Madrid over Easter weekend as she explores all the gorgeous city has to offer.
Wednesday, April 14, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn
**Disclaimer: The following trip took place over Easter weekend, before the most recent series of COVID-19 related restrictions were put in place in France.**
Dear Madrid, thank you for being the perfect getaway for a long weekend. We love you and your sit-down restaurants, energetic nightlife, and never-ending shortage of things to do.
The night we arrived it quickly became apparent Madrid is a city that thrives at night; its streets were full of life and laughter, revelers were celebrating the long weekend in stride.
The next day was off to an early start; there was so much to do, to see, and most importantly, to eat (which is exactly what we did)! Due to COVID-19 restrictions we have been unable to sit down in restaurants until this weekend so you can bet we were going to eat out every chance we got. Our breakfast was one of champions. We were craving familiarity and jumped at the chance to have an American style breakfast, and dare I say the Spanish almost do American breakfast better than Americans? With our stomachs full and smiles on our faces we headed to our next stop: a shopping spree on the iconic Gran Via.
We wandered through a park, where we stumbled on a man with an extremely old-fashioned camera. He offered to take a photo of us, and showed us the process of developing it.
We then headed toward the Prado Museum to admire some artwork. There were many memorable pieces, but one that particularly called out to us was Las Meninas, a Baroque-era painting depicting Margaret Theresa, the king’s daughter.
After getting our fill of art history and seeing more than a lifetime’s worth of Spanish royalty paintings, we ventured into trying traditional Spanish dishes. I ordered their famous huevos rotos con jamón (broken eggs with ham).
Our culinary tour then took us to El Chocolatería San Ginés, Madrid’s oldest and most famous chocolate shop. The churros were delicious! It was a thousand times better than the frozen and reheated churros I’m used to having at my state fair… although now that I think about it, that’s a pretty low bar.
One of my favorite things about Madrid was seeing the architecture. They seem to slap Spanish tile on everything. Even their street signs are artfully painted tiles!
The next day was absolutely beautiful weather-wise, so much so that we spent half the day relaxing in Buen Retiro Parque. It reminded me of New York City’s Central Park, but better. Flowers were blooming all around us as park musicians serenaded us with a variety of instruments, from the saxophone to a man creating notes from the rims of glasses.
The crystal palace, in the heart of Retiro Park
Palacio de Velázquez
One of the main attractions of Retiro Park is canoeing on the lake in the center of the park. My friends and I excitedly hopped into the boats and rowed around the lake. We raced in the water, laughing as we got close to bumping into each other and generally causing chaos in the small lake.
The park was so photogenic that we couldn’t pass up any chances to hold impromptu photo shoots, especially with spring in full bloom.
Of course, we couldn’t vacation in Spain without fully embracing the culture. We were a little tired from our morning activities, so we returned to the Airbnb for a short siesta. Honestly, America could learn from Spain — siestas are always a good idea.
At night, we scouted out the best sunset spot in the city, the rooftop of the art gallery Bellas Artes. Though we didn’t exactly catch the actual sunset, the afterglow was magical with the lights from the city twinkling all around us.
Have you ever wondered what the residences at Georgia Tech-Lorraine are like? Well, here’s your chance to learn more! Read Kaitlyn’s latest blog post detailing the advantages of both dorms from a student’s perspective and get a glance at your future home away from home in Metz!
Friday, April 9, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn
Lafayette or ALOES? Depending on the semester, you may be able to select your residence while at Georgia Tech-Lorraine. To help make your decision a little more informed, and give you some insight on where you’ll be living regardless of your choice; this post is about the differences between the two, so you can figure out which one suits your lifestyle better. As a resident of one of these dorms, I’m biased and inclined to believe that one is slightly better than the other *cough* Lafayette *cough*; but both residences are great and the decision of where to live is in your hands!
There’s a few places you’ll find yourself visiting very frequently while in Metz. First, obviously, is the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building, where you’ll be spending most of your days during the week. Then there’s the two grocery stores, Cora and Auchan. Lastly, Georgia Tech-Lorraine students commonly frequent the nearby university cafeteria, CROUS, to take advantage of the student discount on meals.
Both the dorms are about a 10 minute walk away from campus, but ALOES is much closer to the large grocery store, Cora and CROUS. Lafayette is closer to the PAUL near the Georgia Tech-Lorraine campus and Auchan. ALOES also has a great view of the lake!
ALOES can rooms differ greatly among themselves, but the standard is a bedroom with an attached private bathroom. You’re given a microwave and refrigerator, along with the standard bed, desk, chairs, closet, and shelves.
Lafayette rooms come with a bit more space and furniture: you’ll have a (admittedly tiny!) kitchen with a sink, cabinets, fridge, hot plates, and microwave. The main difference between the two dorms’ rooms is that Lafayette comes with a private kitchen, whereas you share a communal one in ALOES with anywhere between three to ten other students.
Lafayette: Private kitchen in each room
ALOES: Communal kitchen
Oh, the laundry situation… the bane of any Lafayette resident. Students have a lot of gripes with the washer and dryers here, mainly due to the fact that the dryers just don’t do their job of fully drying our clothes. Additionally, each wash cycle costs three Euros, and each drying cycle costs one Euro. At ALOES students are given two tokens a week, each one good for a wash cycle, and the dryers are free.
Lafayette Laundry Room
ALOES Laundry Room
Where Lafayette has its issues with the laundry, ALOES has its fair share of headaches with the wifi. In some rooms the connection is just simply unreliable, and goes in and out. Students in Lafayette have had the wifi cut out a couple times unexpectedly in Lafayette, but only for short periods of time.
Both dorms have advantages and are overall great places to live in Metz while at Georgia-Tech Lorraine. Hopefully this information will help you make a decision on where to make your home away from home while studying abroad!
Join Kaitlyn to the mystical Mont St. Michel, a tidal island, fortress, and town all in one!
Tuesday, April 6, 2021 | Written by Kaitlyn
Ahh, the famous Mont St. Michel: the third most visited landmark in France, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its fame might be due to its multifaceted nature; a tidal island, town, and fortress all in one. For the history buffs out there, it is truly a fascinating place to visit. It was built in the 8th century, when the bishop of Avranches had a vision of the archangel St. Michael. Since then, it has been used as a pilgrimage center, an abbey, a monastery, and prison.
But before we actually made it to this incredible site, we stopped in the walled city of Saint Malo for a few hours. This little city is known for its beach, where the low tides make for a uniquely large stretch of sand. The amount of people we saw using the beach as a playground for extreme sports was astounding. There were paragliders (or were they parasailers? I might never learn the difference…), sailboats, and people sail-karting.
It became apparent to us that the people of Normandy are very proud of their apples— everywhere we looked, apples were on their menu, either in the form of crepes, pastries, or ciders. Of course, I had to try the signature specialty of the region I was in, so I enjoyed a piping hot cup of apple cider. The fact that it was warm enough to heat up my cold hands made the already delectable drink all the more appetizing.
Our next day was dedicated solely to touring Mont Saint Michel. As we walked along the bridge that took us across the bay to the island, all I could think of was how much the shape and style of the abbey reminded me of Hogwarts Castle from the Harry Potter series. Even the streets gave me Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade vibes, with their crooked and narrow alleyways and vintage shop signs. If I saw Hagrid sauntering down the street I don’t think I would have even batted an eye.
We took note of how even though it was the off-season for tourism, Mont Saint Michel was still teeming with tourists. I can’t even imagine the peak months when the tiny streets are overrun with other people. It must be so hard to get around! We ran into a few furry friends during our trek through the streets of the town: five different cats, a flock of chickens, and an ungodly amount of seagulls. Don’t ask me how the cats and chickens survive in the walled off island, I was wondering that myself. It may just have to remain a mystery!
We concluded our visit by walking around the island on the exposed sand flats. Once we were outside of the walls, the characteristic windiness of Northern France made itself very known. Our hair was flying all over the place in our pictures; for this reason you won’t be seeing any selfies in this post! It really was quite an adventure bracing the howling winds, and made us all the more appreciative when we hopped in a warm, windless taxi to take us home.