Sunday, 5 July 2015

Reims - It's French for Champagne! (well, not actually)



Deep beneath the town of Reims in France, about 2000 years ago, before it was called Reims and before there was such a thing as France, Romans were digging chalk mines (actually probably they had other people do it for them). Someone was digging chalk mines for the Romans. I'm not sure why they needed chalk, they hadn't invented blackboards yet I'm pretty sure. Maybe teachers still liked to fling chalk at children, even when they didn't have blackboards? But I digress. The Roman chalk mines left big holes in the ground, holes that were cool in summer and big enough to store lots of stuff. So the French came up with something to put in the holes. Champagne! Lots and lots and lots of champagne. So we went there. And we drank some. It was nice. We went to the Taittinger Champagne House and they took us on the tour of the aforementioned cellars. Between the Romans being there and us being there, there had also been monks there who left carvings and such around the cellars, as well as random staircases that originally would have led up into their monastery but now lead nowhere. I love being in a place where you can (try to) imagine all the people who have been there before you. Then they gave us champagne, and that was also nice.

We visited two churches in Reims, the Basilique St-Remi, because it was next to Taittinger and we were early, but it was definitely worth a quick visit, and the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Reims, which is one of the biggies as far as French cathedrals go, mostly because it was where the monarchs of France were crowned from the 12th century onward. We only got a sneaky peak of its famous rose window, because like every other tourist attraction in Europe, they had to cover something up with scaffolding, otherwise we might not feel like we had to come back. It has these funny, cut off towers that just look like someone forgot to build the roofs on, but apparently it's meant to look like that. It also had some stained glass windows by Marc Chagall, one of my favourite artists, so I was pretty stoked to have stumbled across them.



















Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Reims






What the front of Reims Cathedral looks like without scaffolding on it!

The Chagall windows




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