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The Metz in Northern France is about to explode

This delightful, little-visited city in north-east France is set to burst on to the tourist map when the new Centre Pompidou-Metz museum opens on the 12th of May.

Only an 80-minute TGV ride out of Paris, Metz is a friendly, utterly untouristy place, not at all geared up for the arrival of visitors from around the world. But like Lille, which was suddenly 'discovered' when it became European Capital of Culture, Metz is something of a hidden secret, with a host of great bistros and gourmet restaurants, bars and clubs, shopping and markets.

Sleeping, or wallowing has to be done at the Hotel de la Cathedrale, perfectly located opposite the landmark 13th-century Gothic cathedral, and for wine lovers, there is an excellent bar à vin just next door, the Strapontin, HotelCathedrale.

And for swingers it’s got to be the oddly named Bar Flamenco. Delightfully louche and sleazy, with table football (or baby-foot as it's called here) and live rock and punk bands at the weekend. The drinks are cheap too - cocktails €3-5 and a baron (Metz's term for a pint) is only €3, probably the lowest price in town.

For eating there’s nothing simpler than following your nose, every three steps there’s a bistro to delight even the fussiest of epicures.

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