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Kings and Champagne

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The Cathedral at Reims, France, a masterpiece of 13th century Gothic art and site of the coronation of kings

We could imagine the pomp and circumstance as the Kings of France walked down the humongous aisle of the Reims Cathedral as colored light streamed through the luminous stained glass windows. Over 30 monarchs were crowned here after Clovis, the first French King, was baptized in the 400s. An engraving in the floor marks the spot. The gowns, robes, scepter, jewelry and crown of Charles X are on display in the Treasury of the cathedral, along with other artifacts of the royal extravagance. Heavily damaged during World War I, the cathedral was painstakingly rebuilt. Some of the statuary that was damaged in the war are on display in the Treasury, and that is when we noticed the immense size of the statues. High up on the cathedral’s facade they look much smaller. With much of the stained glass destroyed during the First World War, more recent glass artist’s designs are taking their place. Of particular interest are those of Marc Chagall that grace the rear chapel. The cathedral has intricate stone work, beautiful flying buttresses—the architectural breakthrough that allowed for the massive building size and ability to have large stained glass openings of the grand gothic style—and an elongated nave with soaring ceilings. 

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Wayne stands beside damaged statuary from the Reims Cathedral now housed with tapestry and royal treasures in the Palace of Tau in Reims

Reims is the major city of the champagne region of France. Only sparkling wine that comes from the grapes around Reims can legally be called champagne. There are many champagne chateaux in the region, and we visited Pommery on the outskirts of the city. Impressive. Eighteen  kilometers of chalk caverns are below the surface. They contain over 20 million bottles of champagne in the aging process. We saw one million of them as we walked through the cool tunnels connecting the caverns. Our guide explained the complex champagne making process, and we saw bottles from the 1700s. The tour was informative; however, I was not thrilled that we had to walk the steps back up to the surface. Those steps were rewarded, joyfully, with a large glass of “bubbly.” 

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Pommery Champagne Chateau, Reims, France

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Pommery Chateau Staircase leading to the Cellar

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Pommery Chateau houses a collection of vintage champagne

The weather is amazing. Sunny and cool. Reims is a beautiful French city with wide boulevards, classic architecture and flowing fountains. Our two days here have been wonderful; however, tomorrow we must bid both Reims and France “good-bye” as we head to the Charles de Gaul Airport in Paris for our trip back home. What an amazing adventure we have been blessed to take! God is good. WEG 

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The Standly’s and Graumann’s toast a bubbly from the Pommery Chateau on their last evening in France.


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