The fastest way to get around Metz is definitely by bus. Mira breaks down her knowledge on the bus system in Metz in this must read for any student at Georgia Tech-Lorraine!
Wednesday, September 29, 2021 | Written by Mira
The 45-minute walk into downtown Metz is anything but ideal. Yes, it’s picturesque, but it’s not quick. I’ve used the bus system extensively in the month that I’ve been here, so let me break it down and share some tips.
Bus tickets come in 1-trip, 2-trips, 10-trips, or monthly pass. If you get to Metz at the end of the month (ex: August 20th), I’d recommend holding off on the monthly pass. It expires at the end of the month, so a 10-trip pass should suffice until the beginning of the next month. To get the student discount on the monthly pass, you go to the Le Met office in République square.
There’s a bus stop right outside Lafayette for a bus (C12) that takes you directly to the train station and downtown Metz. It’s about a 20-minute bus ride to Republique square, and buses run about every 30 minutes, from 5am to about 8:30pm. If you’re downtown after 8:30pm, such as for dinner or coming back from the train station, you can take the M4a or M4b to the station nearest Lafayette and walk 13 minutes.
To use your bus pass, you tap it on one of the screens on the bus. Always remember to pay, because you never know when metro workers will come around and check that you paid. If you see someone official walking down the bus with a little device, don’t panic! Watch what other bus patrons do and tap your card to the device. If you paid, you’re all good! If not, you could get fined.
To get off the bus, pay attention for your stop. Right before your stop, you should hit the “Stop” buttons that are spread out around the bus. Usually they’re red, but you can also click the small metal ones to indicate that you would like to get off at the upcoming stop. Once you press the button or if someone else already has, “Arret Demande” lights up in red near the front of the bus.
I highly recommend downloading the Moovit app. Moovit helps you navigate all sorts of public transportation pretty much in any city. I used it over the summer in Tel Aviv (in a big city), and it works in Metz (a smaller city). You type in a destination, and it’ll give you options of routes you could take and the duration of the routes. It also tells you how much you need to walk before and/or after the bus or train. Always check which side of the road you should be on, because sometimes it’s not clear on the map. Moovit has the bus schedule loaded in, but sometimes the buses are late or early. Sometimes, it will show you an ETA, how far away the bus is from a certain stop in minutes. Once you select a route, you can hit the start button, and it will follow you on your journey. For example, once you get on the bus, it will update you on how many stops it is before you should get off. You can also set it to give you notifications when you are 2 stops away.
I’ve only used the C12 and M4 lines due to their proximity to Lafayette, but there are a few other lines that can take you elsewhere around Metz. The C12 can also bring you to and from Cora, the hypermarché near Lafayette (about a 25-minute walk). But, Georgia Tech-Lorraine provides a free shuttle back from Cora on a specific evening of the week (for us, Mondays at 7:30pm).
The buses in Metz are a great way to get around and to help downtown seem not quite so far away.
The title of Mira’s latest blog says it all, join Mira on an exciting adventure through Luxembourg and the Netherlands!
Friday, September 24, 2021 | Written by Mira
My actual birthday was the Monday following this weekend and would be celebrated by a day of classes. So, I decided to celebrate early and check some cities and experiences off my bucket list! What started as a stressful Thursday turned into the most memorable birthday weekend. A physics lab and a Covid-19 test later, two friends and I were on our way to Luxembourg for leg 1 of our weekend adventure.
Day 1: Luxembourg
The train from Metz to Luxembourg is covered by the 3-month unlimited Eurail pass without any extra reservation fees. After one of my friends finished her class, we hopped on a train for dinner in Luxembourg. We walked around a town square, passing by calm coffee shops and beautifully decorated side streets. Luxembourg seemed to be one of the calmest cities I’ve been to. After dinner and some delicious mousse at Café Veneziano (1 Pl. d’Armes, 1136 Luxembourg), we walked towards the sunset and into a large park, meandering with no set destination when one of my friends noticed a column of bright blue lights, which we just had to follow.
To our utter surprise, we stumbled upon a German-Luxembourgish fair with many carnival games and rides( maybe Luxembourg isn’t as calm as we initially thought)! After some confusion of how to get tickets for rides due to the language barrier, we ended up in line for a ride called “Circus Circus,” a ride that spins in three frames of reference at the same time! In our little group of three sets of seats, we were definitely screaming the loudest and were laughing constantly, which led some Luxembourgish teenage boys to laugh at us, but hey, at least we had fun. Finding this carnival was a gem and we considered it a promising sign for the rest of our travels this weekend… what else would be stumble upon?
Something I find absolutely fascinating about Luxembourg is the emphasis of languages. We looked up what the official language of Luxembourg is, and there’s actually three (Luxembourgish, German, and French), but most Luxembourgers speak at least four languages! The employees at the hotel we stayed at seamlessly transitioned between German, French, and English when talking to different guests. The next day on the train, we sat near two girls who were speaking all three languages to each other, sometimes all in the same sentence!
Day 2: Trains
I could probably write a whole novel about the trains we had on this trip. On Friday, we experienced everything from a surprise transfer in a run-down Belgian train station, a cancellation of said transfer, a last-minute platform change for said transfer, a delay of said transfer (while we were on the train), and a missed connection (because of the cancellation and delay). Nonetheless, we made it to Amsterdam! Even though we were an hour behind schedule, we weren’t too stressed because the Eurail app allowed us to easily find and change itineraries, especially since none of the trains required seat reservations.
For our first evening, we decided to take it easy, find some dinner, and walk around the canals. After scoring a 5 euro dinner at an Italian-Argentinian restaurant in the Netherlands, we stumbled upon another great surprise! In the town square in front of the Royal Palace, there was a concert set up. Fancily dressed people were scanning a QR code and entering the gates. One of the security guards told us that this was a once-a-year Royal Orchestra concert and tickets sold out two weeks ago. Unfortunately, we couldn’t go in, but since the concert was outdoors, we could still hear it. We stood outside the gates listening to the lovely orchestral music with a view of a Dutch Royal Palace with cyclists zigzagging through the crowd. Everything seemed so cinematic.
Day 3: Amsterdam
Today was our first and only full day in Amsterdam! For popular attractions such as the Van Gogh Museum and the Anne Frank House, you need to make reservations well in advance, which we were unaware of, (so maybe we will revisit Amsterdam later in the semester) but we made the most of what was available to us on short notice. The night before, we reserved tickets for the Royal Palace, so we started our day in regal style, walking around the palace, learning about the history of Amsterdam and the architecture of the building, which had a large Roman mythology influence.
After the Royal Palace, I needed coffee. The night before, we had found a bakery called Lourens (Oude Leliestraat 15, 1016 BD Amsterdam, Netherlands) that claimed to have the best iced coffee in Amsterdam, so we had to put it to the test. Not only was the iced coffee delicious, but the workers were so sweet! After a not-so-quick impromptu photo shoot with a random light green bicycle on a canal, we headed towards the Tulip Museum, which has student tickets for 3 euros! The museum is quite small, but we learned a lot about how tulips ended up in Holland and how tulip fields are maintained. I guess this was as close to actual fields of colorful tulips as we were going to get in autumn (if you’re at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in the Spring, please go to a tulip field in April for me).
Our next stop of the day was one of my bucket list items: canal cruise in Amsterdam. There are many different places you could go to get tickets, or you can buy them online. We opted for the I Amsterdam x Circle Line canal cruise. A 75-minute tour of Amsterdam from the canals, learning about the history of Amsterdam and the canals – did you know that there are more than twice as many bicycles as people in Amsterdam?
After the incredible canal cruise, we stopped by a chocolate shop, Puccini Bomboni (Singel 184, 1016 AA Amsterdam, Netherlands) near the best iced coffee bakery and waved to the friendly barista who remembered us, and the chocolatier offered me a free truffle for my upcoming birthday! We spent the rest of the day and evening walking around the beautiful canals, grabbing dinner at one of the many Argentinian restaurants. The way the lights reflected off the canals was so picturesque, but no phone camera could capture the way the water glistened.
I don’t think you can capture Amsterdam in a day. Honestly, I don’t even think you could see Amsterdam in its entirety in a weekend or even a week. I hope I get to come back at some point during the semester and see the things we missed, see the golden leaves in later autumn, and eat a famous stroopwafel.
In the spirit of the renaissance man the program is named after, the Leonardo Program at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, run by Prof. Sonia Serafin, provides students with a broad array of cultural experiences in Metz. Read more about Mira’s experiences with the Leonardo program in her latest blog as in just one week she goes produce-picking at la Cueillette de Peltre and sees a performance by Orchestre National de Metz!
Wednesday, September 22, 2021 | Written by Mira
The Leonardo Program is a true hidden gem of Georgia Tech-Lorraine. I didn’t know about this until our welcome orientation. Professor Sonia Serafin created the Leonardo Program to give students a chance to have cultural experiences that would otherwise be inaccessible. With a focus on cultural immersion and the arts, the Leonardo Program offers various activities and events throughout the semester.
On Tuesday afternoon, we went fruit, vegetable, and flower picking at a local farm, Cueillette de Peltre (http://cueillettedepeltre.fr/)! Georgia Tech-Lorraine provided a shuttle to and from the farm so for an hour and half we could pick whatever we wanted. The main attraction? Strawberries.
After getting instructions of logistics, we made a beeline for the “fraises”. There were rows and rows and rows of strawberries! They were some of, if not, the best, freshest strawberries I’ve ever eaten! Not a fan of strawberries? No worries. This farm was massive, and they grew everything you could want: tomatoes, apples, peppers, all sorts of herbs, carrots, cauliflowers, different kinds of lettuce, flowers, eggplants… The best thing about Cueillette? The prices. As college students without a meal plan, the low prices were a major win. Someone bought a whole bag, full of produce, for 10 euros!
On Friday evening, the Leonardo Program provided tickets to the Orchestre National de Metz’s first concert of the season. I don’t know much about orchestra concerts; in fact, the only orchestra concerts I’ve ever been to have been high school orchestras. I was definitely looking forward to whatever this experience would bring. The first piece was quite startling, fittingly named “Apocalypsis.” With a mixture of French, Latin, and English lyrics, the chorus resonated around the venue in ominous echoes. My favorite thing was watching one of the musicians play seven different instruments in two ways each to create some of the most dynamic and interesting sounds to accompany the chorus and string orchestra.
After being thoroughly confused for the first twenty minutes (the length of the piece), there was a long, ebbing and flowing round of applause. I lost track of how long the applause lasted, but it seemed like a solid ten minutes of clapping.
The other three pieces were more what I was expecting an orchestra concert to entail. Lots of piano and strings. The third piece highlighted the piano played by Louis Schwizgebel, a Swiss pianist who has played all over the world at just 33 years old (https://www.louisschwizgebel.com). The audience loved the piano piece so much (and rightfully so), that the resounding applause shifted to a rhythmic applause with a steady beat. Having not been briefed in orchestra concert etiquette, the shift in applause was a little unsettling; however, Professor Serafin later told us that this rhythmic applause is a sign to the musicians that the audience wants an encore. And that’s exactly what happened. I’ve only ever experienced planned encores at the end of a concert but this was in the middle of the show, unplanned!
At the end of the show, an audience member yelled “Bravo!” before the concert hall erupted in applause. Professor Serafin knows one of the flautists, and we got to meet her very briefly outside the venue. I am so grateful for the immersive experiences I’ve had this week, and I am only more excited for the semester to come. Professor Serafin even teased a fun “name that tune” event with some of the members of the orchestra coming to Georgia Tech-Lorraine (pandemic-permitting of course). To anyone interested in Georgia Tech-Lorraine, take advantage of these events because I guarantee you, you’ll never have such a combination of unique experiences.
Sunny skies, a sandy beach, and lots of mountains, what more could a student at Georgia Tech-Lorraine ask for? Join Mira on an adventure as she explores the French Rivera in her trip to Nice and Monaco!
Wednesday, September 15, 2021 | Written by Mira
I think trains may be my new favorite form of travel. As much as I love the views from airplanes, there’s something so calming about being on eye-level with the gorgeous French terrain. My itinerary for the day consisted of two trains and a metro, lasting about 8 hours, giving me enough time to read (for pleasure, not for school!) and admire the mountains and Mediterranean coast, of which no picture could do justice.
If you are staying in an Airbnb, I highly recommend asking your host about local favorites. Our host was so welcoming and gave us a list of places to go and how to get there, even sharing with us a local secret (there are coves on the other side of the port in Nice, free from an abundance of tourists). We headed out to dinner, wandering around the streets of Old Nice. I felt like I had been transported to another world. Among the souvenir shops and lavender soap vendors were so many restaurants with different cuisines: Indian, American, Italian, Middle Eastern, and especially Niçoise (the local Nice cuisine), plus too many gelateria to count!
The best way to start the day? A French breakfast: boisson chaud (hot drink), orange pressée (freshly squeezed orange juice), and a viennoiserie (a pastry). We spent a leisurely morning, enjoying breakfast (petit dejeuner), walking around the Old City, and exploring the views of the beach. I could look at the view from the beach forever. Standing near the #ILoveNice sign, you can see the French landscape curve around the Mediterranean Sea. In the distance, you can see the hazy outline of mountains while listening to the sound of waves crashing against the rocks.
After a very serene morning and early afternoon, we headed to the train station to go to Monaco (for no other reason than just to add it to the list of countries we’ve visited). If you buy the unlimited Eurail pass, the train between Nice and Monaco is completely free, no seat reservations required.
Monaco is built on the side of a mountain, and grandly towers over the nearby port. Our one goal was to walk towards the Palace and back to the station. We reached the Palace exhausted after walking down part of the mountain and up a cascade of stairs, but the view made it more than worth it. From our vantage point, you could see how each building towered over the one in front of it as they got farther from the rounded harbor full of lavish boats. I can proudly say that I only spent a single euro in Monaco, on a single postcard. On our way back to the train station, google maps struggled to understand the public elevator setup but we read signs leading us into the station that was built into the mountain. Honestly, I’m not sure exactly how we ended up stumbling upon the correct platform 10 minutes earlier than google maps anticipated, but I can’t complain about not having to sprint to make our train.
Our last day in Nice we followed the recommendations of our Airbnb host and a Georgia Tech-Lorraine alumni. A must-see destination in Nice is Castle Hill, a grand (and hilly) park near the port that features a refreshing waterfall that overlooks the sea. Even higher up the hill is a glorious lookout, making the (already amazing) views from the previous day pale in comparison. From here, you can see all the rooftops of Nice, and everything looks so small. Nearby a busker was playing a violin only adding to the ambiance and sensation I was in some sort of movie.
If you don’t think you can make it all the way down the stairs, don’t worry! There is a public elevator not far from the lookout, and it leads you right to the beach. After spending some time at the rocky beach, we found lunch at a Mexican restaurant La Lupita (9 Rue de la Préfecture, 06300 Nice), and I got some top-notch iced coffee.
The next stop on our excursion was one of the few (maybe the only) sandy beaches in this area: Villefrance-sur-Mer. In the week leading up to my arrival at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, a Georgia Tech-Lorraine alumna recommended this specific beach to me, and my Airbnb host confirmed that it was worth the train ride. If you take the trip, you should definitely bring sunscreen or buy some… I’m unfortunately speaking from experience.
Nice is truly a relaxing vacation destination! If you’re at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in the fall, go early while it’s still warm. If you’re at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in the spring, go late when it gets warm. And, if you’re at Georgia Tech-Lorraine in the summer, just go and please visit the Lavender fields in Provence for me!
Since making her decision to get her undergrad degree at Georgia Tech, Mira knew that she wanted to spend a semester at Georgia Tech-Lorraine— and after 3 years, Mira has finally made it to Metz! Read her latest blog post to find out more about Mira’s love of travel and her first experiences in France.
Friday, September 10, 2021 | Written by Mira
Bonjour, Je m’appelle Mira! I am a third year at Georgia Tech, majoring in biomedical (BMED) engineering, minoring in health and medical sciences (HMED), and pursuing the International Plan (IP). I just spent an incredible summer living and working in Tel Aviv, and I am so excited to take my sense of adventure to Europe!
This study abroad experience has been years in the making— studying at Georgia Tech-Lorraine is one of the reasons I chose to go to school at Tech in the first place. I had to hold off on going until my third year, constructing my academic plan carefully, and I can’t believe I have finally made it to Metz.
This semester, I only have class on Mondays and Wednesdays, which means I get the day in between to explore Metz (pronounced: “mess”). I know as the semester rolls on I will be spending my Tuesdays in quaint coffee shops doing schoolwork while sipping a latte and munching on pastries. Coffee shops have always been my primary study spot and I can’t wait to experience the French café scene, so stay tuned for a detailed review of coffee shops in Metz! Also, while all Georgia Tech-Lorraine students have no classes on Friday, I am lucky enough to not have Thursday classes either (yay for four-day weekends).
My deep love of traveling (and to be honest, of reality TV) came from watching the Amazing Race with my brother. I would fantasize about where we would go if we were on the show together. As contestants would we be scrubbing trolleys in Moscow, playing table tennis in Shanghai, or leading llamas to a pasture in Cuzco? While as a part-time wheelchair user competing in the Amazing Race is somewhat unrealistic for me (literally running around the world would not be the safest thing for me), my dream is still to experience as many cultures and sites as possible. I know throughout this semester I may face accessibility challenges as I travel, but I am interested to see what “accessibility” looks like in other areas of the world.
The preparations for coming to France involved a lot of paperwork. The visa application process was a little stressful, but if you stay organized and work on the process as early as permissible, it should be smooth sailing. The week leading up to my departure from America, I talked to as many Georgia Tech-Lorraine alumni as possible, getting restaurant recommendations in Metz, beach recommendations in Nice, tips and tricks for study abroad, and everything in between. My excitement was bubbling over by the time the Thursday of my flight arrived.
That Thursday and Friday are a blur; upon arriving in Paris CDG, there were shuttles to take us from the airport to the Lafayette Residences in Metz. I tried my best to fight the jetlag, but I ended up falling asleep. The four hour journey to Metz went by in a snap. We arrived at Lafayette around 4:00 pm, and I quickly went to bed, letting jetlag do its work.
The following morning, it was Saturday in Metz. My first “official” day in France! In the Georgia Tech-Lorraine GroupMe, someone suggested going into downtown around noon to get SIM cards and lunch, and I jumped at the chance to meet other Georgia Tech-Lorraine students. A small group of us meandered down the streets, taking in a 45-minute walk to downtown that was incredibly picturesque (a descriptor I’ll probably be using a lot). We went to Free Mobile, one of a few SIM card options in Metz, another being Orange. After using my beginners’ French, the employee’s beginners’ English, and Google translate, I got my SIM card, and instructions on how to cancel the monthly plan at the end of the semester.
We walked down the street a little bit to Café de la Presse (3 En Chaplerue, 57000 Metz), where we strung together six or seven tables to have a late lunch and meet other students. I struggled a little to order an iced coffee. Coffee culture varies wildly across different countries and apparently “café glacé” was not the correct way to ask for an iced coffee and ordering a “café froid” did not come with ice.
After a leisurely lunch, two other students and I walked around downtown, making note of some restaurants and shops we might want to try. There’s a vegetarian breakfast and lunch restaurant that I’ll definitely be coming back to! We also found a cute bookstore, adding to the charm and romanticism of Metz.
On Monday, we had an orientation in small groups of the Georgia Tech-Lorraine building. Georgia Tech-Lorraine’s campus is one building containing four-stories full of study spaces, classrooms, faculty offices, and laboratories. At the end of our tour, we got to go through donations of items left by previous students. I highly recommend grabbing one of the MANY fans and a trash can. I also grabbed a mug and a French press, to fuel my coffee dependency.
On Tuesday, we had a virtual academic orientation, welcoming us to Georgia Tech-Lorraine, where we got to learn about all that Georgia Tech-Lorraine has to offer including the Bureau Des Étudiants (BDE, the student government) and the Leonardo Program (cultural excursions organized by Mme. Serafin). After the orientation, I had a deeper appreciation and excitement for the semester to come. Being in France still feels like a dream, and I can’t wait to take you on this adventure with me! À bientôt!
Meet this fall’s new blogger, Mira! Be sure to keep an eye out for stories of her travels, tips and tricks for living at Georgia Tech-Lorraine, and so much more— coming soon on the blog!
Bonjour mes amis, je m’appelle Mira Mutnick! I am a third year at Georgia Tech, majoring in biomedical engineering, minoring in health and medical sciences, and pursuing the International Plan. I am 20 years old and originally from Roswell, GA. My love of traveling (and reality TV) came from watching the Amazing Race with my brother. I have been to Ireland, England, Italy, and Israel, but I am so excited to live in France—and finally add a consonant to my international travel list!