Visit the Pommery. Going down...
Visit the Pommery. Going down 100 feet and drinkimg champaign out of those cold vats is something you will never forget. Sitting in a restaurant watching a trapeze show overhead. (this was during WW2, l don't think that restaurant is there anymore.
The beginning of the end
The room where the Germans first surrendered to Allied forces has not been changed since that time. The room is in the back of a Lycee, and yes students still attend. However through the back door and up the stairs is a small and moving museum. The story of the surrender, the fight over who should be there, the consequences, the other surrenders. It is an amazing story to the end of so much pride, and honor, valour and vainglory, effort on both sides to preserve and defend. A visit to the museum is a must for any history buff. It was the only reason we visited Reims. I would have liked to see the Cathedral- the obvious must see for the city. However we had friends waiting for us another two hour drive away and we couldn't dally. The museum was easy to find and get to. The docents were eager to share the story and their part in the history. We spent over an hour enjoying the very interesting artifacts, pictures and information. (best websites are in French, however the museum had English info)
Notre Dame de Reims
Notre Dame de Reims
Our Lady of Reims has been standing in the city centre for eight centuries. The major part was built during the 13th century. History has certainly inflicted wrinkles and scars on it but what a past! Most French kings were crowned in Reims. The last coronation was that of Charles X in 1825.
The gothic style cathedral is 138 meters long and 38 meters high on three levels.
Its treasures : a collection of renowned statues including the famous smiling Angel, high windows and a magnificent golden façade adorned with three gates.
Very impressive are the contemporary stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall.
Along the cathedral
The Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims was started in 1211 on the location of a former church (said to be built around 400 by Saint Nicaise) - destroyed by a fire- and consecrated in 1241. The towers were finshed only in 1430.
It used to be where the French kings were crowned. This tradition was started with Louis le Pieux in 806 (1st one to be crowned in Reims - the 1st to use the present cathedral was Louis VIII in 1123).
The location was chosen in memory of the baptism of Clovis (considered the foundator of the Francs kingdom) by Saint Remi, in 498 (on Christmas Day).
The last king crowned was Charkles X in 1825.
It's a splendid example of gothic art, not only the famous portals with the smiling angels but all those little details everywhere.
The cathedral has several times been damaged, but especially during WWI when it was bombed over several days in September 1914, April 1917 and November 1918 (the worst damages happening to the vaulting, the walls and the west facade).
After reconstruction the cathedral was reconsecrated in 1937.
It still sustains permanent renovations (pluution is the culprit now).
Many statues you can see are copies, the originals are in the Palais du Tau.
The cathedral, made the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites in 1991.
Champagne Tasting No 2
Although founded in 1785, Piper-Heidsieck , at 51 bd Henry-Vasnier (March-Nov daily 9-11.45am & 2-5.15pm; Dec-Feb closed Tues & Wed; €6.10), is better known in the New World than the Old, having been the champagne of the American movie industry since first appearing - with Laurel and Hardy - in the 1934 classic Sons of the Desert . The champagne of the Oscars gives a fair whack of sponsorship for film prizes and festivals too, and really the only folk who'll get anything out of the tour - which ends up at a gallery of celebrity snaps - are confirmed film buffs and lovers of tackiness: the antique caves are toured by automatic five-seater car shuttle resembling a ghost train.
Top of the list of appointment-only houses is the Maison Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin , 1 place des Droits-de-l'Homme (tel 03.26.89.54.41; free). In the early days of capitalism, the widowed Mme Clicquot not only took over her husband's business, but later bequeathed it to her business manager rather than to her children - both radical breaks with tradition. In keeping with this past, the maison is one of the least pompous and its video the best. The caves , with their horror-movie fungi, are old Gallo-Roman quarries. The House of Pommery , 5 place du Général-Gouraud (tel 03.26.61.62.55; €6.10), also has excavated Roman quarries for its cellars; it claims - in a case of good champagne oneupmanship - to have been the first to do so. Other appointment-only maisons are Ruinart , 4 rue des Crayères (tel 03.26.77.51.51; €7.62-18.29, depending on number of tastings), Charles Heidsieck , 4 bd Henry-Vasnier (tel 03.26.84.43.50; €6.10-9.15), and Lanson , 12 bd Lundy (tel 03.26.78.50.50; €4.57).
Finally, to get an overview of the various champagnes available (plus wines from all over France), it's worth visiting La Vino Cave , 43 place Drouet-d'Erlon (Mon 2.30-7.30pm, Tues-Sat 9.30am-1pm & 2.30-7.30pm), where you can also buy all the paraphernalia of the bubbly business, from champagne flutes to snazzy servers.