Monday, May 3, 2010

Metz, City of Water

Despite a few unseasonably cold days, the threat of freezing vanished from Metz weeks ago. So starting in April a lot of fountains started up, all across the city. So with fountains seemingly everywhere, adding a third dimension to the city's two rivers and its canals, Metz emerges as a city of water.

The Esplanade, between the Place de la Republic and the Moselle, boasts an exuberant fountain, whose spray reaches past the edges of its pond when the breeze picks up.

The Moselle itself, with the trees on its banks now beginning to show their leaves, has taken on a new character. Some parts of the river, even close to the center of the city, have a lazy rural air, with weekend gardens on the banks.


In town itself, the river has a serious side where the water flows through channels that once fed mills.




The river has its sporting side, too. Perhaps they were there all winter and I didn't notice them, but pedalos can now be rented on the Moselle just south of the Chapel Neuf.

Other boaters took to the river in kayaks.

The kayers' paddling on the placid waters along the quays turned out to be mere transportation. They were heading for a weir that dropped them into a whitewater course on a stream runing west from the city center toward the university. Numerous kayakers went up and down the course that had been laid out over the rapids. A person whom I took to be a coach stood on a bank and gave instruction.


Bigger craft went over the weir and down the rapids too. I'd call these rapids mostly class 2. But it's amazing to me to have this right in the middle of the city. Criticizing the rapids as not difficult enough would be like criticizing an opera-singing dog for having a weak vibrato.

The Plan d'Eau lies a little upstream from the weir. Much larger craft, including tour boats, call this part of the river home.

Past the pedalos, just past the Chapel Neuf, is the Place de la Comedie, whose facades in the 18th-Century style are complemented by this very classical fountain.

Across the river, under the edge of the Esplanade, you'll find more fountains--in this case with artificial rococo caves ornamented with grotesques.

Metz has many other fountains, some monumental, such as the fountain on the Place Mondon, near the train station. The new look for the Place de la Republic, still under construction, will have black marble water features and a wooden-decked "beach." But to wrap things up I'll conclude with the much more modern fountains of the Place St-Thiebault. These fountains sit on top of an underground parking garage. Despite of--or perhaps because of--their modernity, they truly complement the classical facades that surround them. Metz's fountains thus add an extra dimension to this city of water not only in their verticality but in their esthetic, too.

2 comments:

  1. Lovely pictures! You're making me very eager for my trip to Metz, however short it will be.

    -Michelle

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