Getting to Metz

Many have asked questions on travelling to Metz. This article contains some suggestions based on my personal experience and a little additional research. If there are questions, other information you would like or if you have further advice, just add a comment or email me at doug@pincock.ca.

Routing

Although there is an Airport about 10 km from Metz, the only direct flights there are from Lyon, Nice, Marseille, Toulouse and Algiers, none of which seems a likely connection on a flight from Canada. So, unless you live near or plan to visit one of these cities, you will want to get there by train unless you are renting a car. In general travel by train is far less hassle; so I would suggest it unless you want to explore the countryside.

Metz is now on the high speed TGV Est line and the trains stop either at  Metz Ville (the old Gare we all know) or Lorraine TGV (57) from which you can get a frequent shuttle bus which takes about 30 minutes to get downtown (4 Euros) from the Lorraine Station.

The following summarizes the options you might want to consider. Paris is the best unless you can get significantly better flights to another country or want to spend some time there

Paris to Metz

Trains depart from Gare de l’Est to Metz Ville roughly every two hours and take only about 1:20 to do the 330 km. Just a couple of years ago this would have been 4 hours.

In the unlikely event that you don’t want to spend time in Paris, there is also the option to depart directly from the TGV station in Charles de Gaulle Aeroport Terminal 2 (where most transatlantic flights arrive). Trains from there go directly to the Lorraine TGV Station — about 1:10 if you get a direct train. Unfortunately, the service isn’t nearly as good as from Gare de l’Est but there is a direct train at 12:54 which might suit some. On the other hand, there is a train from Metz to the Airport at 7:25 getting there at 8:43 and another at 8:58 getting there at 10:59. These might be useful for anyone wanting to get back to Canada quickly without a night at the airport or in Paris.

From Charles de Gaulle Aeroport into Paris

I have never taken a taxi but understand they are expensive — almost certainly more than 50 Euris when all charges are in. There are some shuttkes who advertise rates of about 21 Euros a person.

The quickest is the metro (RER B). It costs about 8.50 Euros and leaves from the same area as the TGV Staion (there are lots of signs). Some stops of interest in Paris include Gare du Nord, Gare del’Est (Train to Metz goes from here), Chatelet-Les Halles, St Michel-Notre Dame and Luxembourg,

The Roissy Bus takes you directly to the old Opera for about 8 Euros.

Details on the above and local buses from the airport are at www.ratp.info/orienter/aeroport_rerb.php.

Air Farnce also operates buses which go to the Arc de Triomphe area, Gare de Lyon and Gare Montparnasse which might suit you if you are going to these areas. It’s about 8 Euros.

The Roissy and Air France Buses are easy to find (lots of signs). You jus pay the driver; so you’ll need cash.

London to Paris

The Eurostar from St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord takes about 2:15. You could then take the train to Metz as above. This makes a long day and involves a change of train station to get to Gare de l’Est (It’s a short walk if you are travelling light) but would be attractive if you wanted to spend some time in London and a night or two in Paris.

Frankfurt to Metz

There is a train station in the Airport and you can get a train to Metz (with changes) that would take about 3:30. The last time I did this was about 25 years ago so things have probably changed since then. My biggest emory was that you could get at beer from vending machines in German train stations.

Buying Train Tickets in France

You can buy tickets when you arrive but you should be aware of the following:

  1. Tickets will be less expensive if you buy them in advance
  2. There are plenty of automated machines to buy tickets and they are easy to use but they only accept credit cards with Chip and Pin capability. So, if our card only has a magnetic stripe, you’ll have to go to a ticket booth and lines can be long. If you don’t have a chip and pin card, I strongly suggest you get one as some magnetic stripe cards don’t work a lot of the time. Hint: If you have a card you don’t use much (i.e. no automatic deductions to change), “lose” it and ask for a new one; the new one will almost certainly have a chip.
  3. All seats on the TGVs are reserved; so, if you don’t buy a ticket in advance, you may not get the train you want
  4. The cheapest tickets are for a particular train and not refundable; so, if you go this way, avoid tight connections.

You can buy tickets on line at www.voyages-sncf.com . Currently, there is no English version; so you need to understand some French (or ask a friend to help). If you go this way, make sure you check out the PREM deals which will often give you first class for almost the same price. For a trip as short as this, First Class has limited advantages – a bit more comfortable seat and possibly less crowded. If you buy tickets on line from SNCF, make sure that the method of getting the ticket works for you. When I bought tickets in October, you just printed your own. For  a while that option was gone but now it’s back. The other option that works for people not living in France is to get them at an automated machine or ticket booth in the station any time up to when your train goes. For the automated machine you need a chip and pin credit card (and it has to be the same card you used to buy the ticket). At the booth you may need this card or you could use cash.

You can also buy tickets between any European cities at www.raileurope.ca/canada/index.htm. It’s simple but more expensive. For example, I looked at fares from Paris to Metz for a date about a month from now (Note that you can only book stuff about three months ahead; so I can’t check for October) and got $80 Canadian ($67 + $23 to send you the ticket) compared to 30 Euros (about $48 Canadian) at the SNCF site. Of course, you can also go to a travel agent but I suspect that this is more expensive again.

Buying Tickets in other Countries

You can always use www.raileurope.ca/canada/index.htm but I suspect there are better deals to be had if you go directly to the railway involved. If going from London to Paris, go to the Eurostar Site. I haven’t Germany or other countries but will if there is interest.

Senior Fares

If you’re over 60 (Aren’t we all?). If you are doing things on line, make sure you check the box. You don’t always get a much better fare but you may get more flexibility, first class for less or whatever.

Don’t Forget: Compostez Votre Billet!

When travelling by train in France you must date stamp (Composter) your ticket before you get on the train. if you don’t you could get a prestty big fine. This is simply done at the yellow machines fiound just before you access the platforms. If you printed your ticket on line, you don’t need to do this but will have to show it and your passport to the conductor when he checks tickets.

2 thoughts on “Getting to Metz”

  1. Thanks, Doug. I really enjoyed your stuff ‘getting to Metz’ stuff… I think I’ll save a copy of the text for future reference.

    Regarding access to Metz via Frankfurt, I might be able to provide a few useful comments since I’ve been through that airport a few dozen times, over a period of 20 years. It used to be a wonderful airport back in the 80’s, but it’s gone steadily downhill since that time. When I was there last year, it was undergoing major (re)construction, and it was a very confusing and grubby place. If travelling through there with Air Canada (many AC flights from Toronto to Europe go through Frankfurt) you should allow a generous amount of time for transfers. And try to keep smiling, because it’s difficult to find an airport in Western Europe where the staff is less welcoming.

    An afterthought — haven’t been there in about 10 years, but the Zaventem airport in Brussels used to be first rate. I would assume the rail connections from Brussels to Metz are likely pretty good. Maybe you would know. If you find a good fare through Zaventem, have no fear!

    Enjoy the reunion, everyone!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.