I've been wanting to pay Champagne a visit for a while now for reasons I don't have to point out. It doesn't take much to interest me in agriculture if degustation is involved.
The TGV gets you to Reims from Gare St Lazare in 45 luxurious minutes. It's not the prettiest or most interesting train ride to get there, but the earth moves past you so fast that it barely registers. I barely had time to get my knitting out when the train pulled into the station.
It's a good day trip from Paris, and if you were really into the tastings and the museums, you could definitely spend a weekend here without much downtime. We went on a weekday and had the city pretty much to ourselves, which felt refreshing after being hustled around the packed monuments of Paris. Aside from the bubbly appeal, it was a beautiful city to explore and very easy to get around. There were roman ruins and a gate that was built in the 3rd century that still marks the entrance of the city. Reims was hit hard during WWI, destroying a great deal of the gothic cathedral and the areas around it. The cathedral was rebuilt, but the surrounding area is built up in more of an art deco style, with long pedestrian plazas and cafes lining the streets.
The Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims was a pretty fantastic work of art.
Hundreds of statues decorating the facade, including the most famous, the enigmatic Angel of Reims.
For centuries, this is where the French royalty would go for their coronation. It's appropriately grand in a "wear your best ermine robe" sort of way.
Marc Chagall left his mark here as well:
Next door in the Palais du Tau, original bits of statues and restoration pieces were on display, along with a big "We aren't mad at you any more, sort of" exhibit for the Germans.
There is a big ode to John D. Rockefeller as he did sink a lot of money into the rebuilding. There is also a Carnegie library right next door. It's almost like being back in New York.
About a mile away is the slightly sadder Basilica St Remis.
It was really obvious that they had no money for upkeep or restoration.
It was beautiful regardless, and practically empty.
Still, despite all the doom and gloom of history and places forgotten, I was pretty psyched that Champagne is the drink of choice here.
I considered it a sacrifice to science to try as many varieties as I possibly could while I was here. It made for a cheerful and slightly lazy day. Salute!
Tomorrow: We visit the cellars, and for the sake of Champagne, venture into the bowels of the earth.