Reims, the largest city in the Champagne region of France is famous for their Notre-Dame (Our Lady) cathedral. Kings of France were crowned here. Joan of Arc was instrumental in the coronation of a King Charles VII here in 1429, two years before the she died at the young age of 19. Earlier this year, religious artist, Greg Tricker had an exhibit of 33 pieces of related to Joan of Arc. This stained was still on display when we visited.
I passed through Reims on a train trip through France back in the 1970s. I remember only two things from that trip. The smiling angel outside the cathedral. The fact that in my hotel, the toilet was down the hall and the shower downstairs. We had nicer accommodations this trip in an extended stay hotel with kitchenette AND bathroom.
I learned on this trip that the angels’ smile isn’t the only thing unusual in the photo above. These three angels have have their wings open and that is as rare as her smile. The grand cathedral was damaged in WW I and restoration work continues to this day.
We did some champagne shopping near the cathedral. Caves des Sacres has wines from large and small champagne houses. We bought a variety of labels and price points, including a Bollinger, just because it’s what James Bond drinks. The nice thing about this shop is that if you buy at least six bottles, they offer free delivery to your hotel. That was quite a selling point for us. If we’d had to lug it around and schlep it back on the bus, one bottle would have been out limit. They are very knowledgeable about the wines, unfortunately, we are not particularly knowledgeable shoppers. The expert did confirm one thing I have suspected. In the wine business when they call a wine “fruity,” what that really means is sour.
The area is also known for Biscuit rose de Reims. The French and lighter version of a biscotti, this twice baked cookie is meant for dipping in champagne. It’s sturdy enough not to crumble in your drink. We bought some at Maison Fossier, who have been making this treat since 1756. For those of you who are cookie buffs, like I am, the biscuit definitely had that twice baked feel of biscotti, but the texture was very fine and delicate, closer to a macaron or meringue than an Italian biscotti.
Our hotel was on the outskirts of the city, so we rode the bus into the city center. You buy your tickets from the bus drivers, who were all very friendly and helpful — one even getting out the bus at our last stop to offer explanations on the schedule and shake our hands while wishing us au revoir. One hour will run you 1.60 euro; looking back, we should have gotten the all day ticket. It’s fun to do things that give us a feel for what it’s like to live in a city, so I’m glad we had a reason to take the bus. It seemed like we were the only non-locals.
It was a quick but fun visit. Buckle up, next stop Normandy and Omaha Beach.