You can now buy a large-format book with the blog entries from the Dispatch from Metz through Blurb at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2027500. The cost is $112.95. The book contains the text and photos that recount Susie's and my French adventure.
This blog, like Susie's, has presented what amounts to an outsider's view of Metz, Lorraine, and France. For the inverse--a native of Metz's view of the United States--check out Chroniques de Floride. The blog is in French, presenting to her home country her impressions of the US; my blog, in English, expressed my impressions of France for people in the US. While her blog focuses on Florida, where she now lives, it also covers places I've lived, like Oregon.
Our visit to Metz over Thanksgiving brought us back to three different communities. We felt connected with each.
The first community was Georgia Tech-Lorraine. Jim Foley, my Georgia Tech colleague who made it possible for Susie and me to teach at GTL last spring, was himself at GTL this fall. We had the chance to have dinner with Jim and his wife Marylou at le Bouchon, the very restaurant where we had our first real meal in Metz a year ago. We were also lucky that Jean Sands and Henry Owen, our GLT colleagues, were in town, and so we had a wonderful dinner with them. At GTL proper, we said hi to all of our staff colleagues, whom we were really happy to see.
The second community was the Association Lorraine-Etats Unis. On Monday afternoon I accompanied Susie to the meeting of the association's English conversation group, in which she participated weekly last spring. I'd been to only one meeting, because I usually taught class then. So Susie (and somewhat I) caught up with the regulars, who were as warm and welcoming as usual. Then, on Thursday, we were the association's guests at their Thanksgiving dinner. This proved to be more elegant and elaborate that our usual American celebrations. The dinner took place in the great hall of the Metz Officer's Club, a room lit by chandeliers, decorated with columns, and looked over by an enormous portrait of the Emperor Napoleon I in an ermine robe.
The meal started with a regional cocktail of Champagne and mirabelle liqueur. The main course was, of course, turkey, accompanied by French side dishes. Our contribution was that I read Art Buchwald's traditional Thanksgiving column about the Jour de Merci Donnant. I translated on the fly, but because much of the column involved Frenglish, I'm not sure how effective my recitation proved to be for my audience; people were gracious enough to say that they liked it, though. As someone whose life has bridged both the U.S. and France, I felt completely at home in this gathering of French and Americans dedicated to each other's culture and to their ties across history--and that history resounds with special acuteness in Metz.
The third community was Metz's Jewish community. Susie and I attended Friday night Shabbat services at the Metz synagogue and then, at the invitation of Rabbis Fiszon and Bamberger, joined their families for a celebration of the wedding, in England in three weeks time, of the Bambergers' youngest son. Mme Bamberger and the whole family welcomed us with great warmth. The Bamberger brothers are amazing singers, and they sang through the evening with emotion. We weren't able to attend the wedding, but you can still hear the brothers' celebration via YouTube. We abandoned our Saturday plans of visiting Strasbourg so we could rejoin the congregation for Saturday morning services, which were joyous and moving.
So these were the highlights of our stay in Metz, not only for Thanksgiving week but as the summary of our whole winter and spring. The squares, the markets, the restaurants, the forts, the history, and the arts draw visitors to France and to Metz. The connections to communities stay with us and draw us back to visit again.
Here are a few concluding images that stick with me as I think back on our visit. The view of the Esplanade, looking west from the Place de la République toward the Moselle, captures a part of Metz's spirit, with dancing waters, rolling forested hills, and a French garden. Metz is also the ancient, medieval and now modern city, with its streets that date back to the Romans, its Cathedral tower part of the unending work of renovation, its combination of roofs of dark slate and red tile, and its mix of buildings of all eras, shapes, sizes and styles. And Metz is a city of people, unseen from the Grande Roue but braving the cold of winter to stroll the narrow streets to prepare for the coming holidays. And here's an image of the Bras Mort of the Moselle, off the Plan d'Eau and the Canal de Jouy. This is the picture on the desktop of my computer, so I get to be there every day.
From the Museums of Metz, here's a bird's-eye view of Metz and its fortifications in the 17th Century. Just above the cathedral, on the open field at the left of the little island in the Moselle, is where the Temple Neuf now stands. The city walls have mostly now disappeared, except for the ramparts at the junction of the Moselle and Seille, at the right side of the city in this picture. The elaborate fortification on the left was the Porte Serpenoise, now shrunk to an arch. Overall, Metz must have been a formidable defensive position.
My wife Susie and I spent the spring of 2010 in Metz, France. This blog reported my experiences and observations, much in same way that my Dispatch from Toulouse covered my years in the south of France. You can buy a large-format book with the blog entries from the Dispatch from Metz through Blurb at http://www.blurb.com/bookstore/detail/2027500.