I knew I’d spend my birthday in Metz, the capital of Lorraine, when I organized my press trip. I knew I would be away from family and friends with only Twitter and Facebook to keep me company. I knew that Metz would join the dubious company of Athens, London, San Francisco, Paris,Vienna, Zurich, St Ives, Stonehenge, a BA flight mid-air and a safari camp in the Okavango Delta in the list of places I’ve spent my birthday in.

What I had no idea about was what it looked like. I bet you don’t, either.

Well, not any more!

Thanks to the hospitable Saïd Hocine at the charming Hotel de la Cathedrale, my very knowledgeable and enthusiastic tourist guide Sandrine Volpato and to Valentine Vernier, the Metz Tourism press officer and a delightful dinner companion.