One of the best things about being an archivist is that you can often get behind-the-scenes tours of archival repositories. I visited the Archives Municipales in Metz and met with its director to get information for an article I'm writing about French archives.
After asking the director a number of questions, the fun began. The Archives Municipales are housed in a renovated 13th century cloister, with a very inviting and sunny reading room.
The best part of our tour was visiting the storage area, which is comprised of two former water reservoirs built in 1863. We saw tax records and a list of sentences from the 13th century as well as building permits from the 20th century, among other records.
Last Tuesday, as Kaye and I were enjoying coffee at the Place St. Louis, a young woman with a very serious camera asked the women at a nearby table if they could take photographs of their purses. Kaye and I watched this and commented that we would probably not join in the activity.
However, on hearing what Pasha Petrov, a Romanian art student studying in Metz, had to say about her upcoming art project, we joined in the fun! Kaye's handbag was much more interesting than mine...
With the arrival of spring, David and I have taken the opportunity to get out and about around Metz. In the past two weeks, we've taken drives and walks during weekday afternoons. David has written about the excursions that we've taken (and I urge you to read his posts), so I'll add some rather random photographs from the week.
Last Tuesday, there was a general strike in France. We're werent' affected, but people taking trains throughout France were. We happened to be near the train station when we saw strikers gathering for a protest.
I especially like the mounted police officers uniforms. They were there to keep the peace.
Although the EMT personnel were working, they wrote "En Greve" on their ambulances in solidarity with the transport workers. We saw them helping an older woman who had fallen on the street.
With spring on its way, David and I are taking more walks. During our second long walk in a week, we circled the old city of Metz via its ramparts. Until the early 20th century, Metz was surrounded by walls, a defensive measure to keep out the Germans (or at least invaders from the east).
The Porte des Allemandes (the German Gate) is the last relic of the town's medieval fortifications.
A bridge over the Seille, the gate consists of two round towers from the 13th century and two 15th century bastions on the other side.
On our way home from work last Thursday, we decided to take a little drive into the country. Mapless, we just followed signs and discovered the remains of a 12th century Cistercian abbey in Villers-Bettnach.
After driving up to Luxembourg to pick up our friends David Meier and Kaye van Valkenburg, we drove to a small town just south of the border in France for lunch. When we returned to Metz, we got the shopping cart and headed off to Marche Couvert for vegetables, meat and cheese, to Nicolas for wine, and to our corner boulangerie for bread and dessert.
This afternoon, we took a long walk to the Parc de la Seille, a lovely stretch of nature that follows the Seille river southeast of the city center. Inaugurated in 2002, the park connects the city center to the southern parts of Metz. As today was one of the warmest days this year, the park was filled with young children and their parents and grandparents. At the center of the park on a hill, is a sculpture donated by Fuji Industries as a sign of French-Japanese friendship.
Nearby is the Centre Pompidou-Metz, which will open in May. Noted as a project to promote economic development, tourism and urban renewal, the center is a flagship project for cultural decentralization in France. Of the 750 works of art in the opening exhibit, 700 of them will be loans from the Centre Pompidou in Paris. We pass the building every day going to campus, and it's growing on me. I look forward to being inside the building when it opens in May.