Saturday, July 5, 2008

Paris: Day 9

After debating whether or not to take part in the scheduled trip to Reims, Hautvillers, and Epernay (Champagne country) because of Allison's sickness, we decided to go. We got up early this morning (6:00, which is midnight the night before in IN!) and walked down to the St. Paul metro station where we met up with the group. A bus arrived to pick us up, and by 8:00 we were on our way to France's coronation city.

Allison & Lucas on the bus

Reims is about 90 miles outside of Paris, so it took a while to get there. On the way we watched the landscape change from urban to rural, with rolling hills of fields planted with wheat and other grains. Reims is a much smaller city than Paris, although at one time it was more important than Paris (when it was the capital of the Celtic tribe of Remi). Various other trivia include that: 85% of the homes in the city were damaged or destroyed during WWI and the Germans surrendered in Reims on May 7, 1945, to end the fighting in Europe during WWII.

Vineyards and countryside

More of the countryside & vineyards

The streets of Reims were much less crowded than Paris' streets, and the sites were not as busy. The Basilique St. Remi was our first stop. It is a smaller basilica that houses quite a few historical artifacts.

Luke outside the basilica - he cared more about his feet/socks!

The window over the entrance to the basilica

The Basilique St. Remi

Inside the basilica

The next site we visited in Reims was the Notre-Dame de Reims. This cathedral is where the kings of France held their coronation ceremonies. It is built on the site where the first "French" king, Clovis, was baptized in 496 by St. Remi. The architecture of the cathedral is amazing. It has many stained-glass windows, some which were done by Marc Chagall, which Allison really enjoyed.

In front of the cathedral

The cathedral

The Chagall windows

View from back side of cathedral

We had lunch at McDonald's in Reims. Neither one of us is a fan of McDonald's, but we thought we would try a European one to see if there was a difference. The differences were: the menu was in French, they had some different dessert items, I paid in Euros, and the toilets were like none we have ever seen. I did not have my camera in the restroom, or I would have taken a picture. It was basically a hole in the ground surrounded by porcelain (like a toilet, but flat on the ground). There were two raised rectangles for standing while you used it. Weird!

McDonald's (that is French for McDonald's!)

After lunch, we left Reims for Hautvillers, the town where Dom Perignon invented the modern champagne process. We went into the abbey church where he perfected the process (he was the cellarmaster for the abbey), which was set up for a wedding. Apparently the remains of Dom Perignon are still at the abbey.

The abbey from the outside

It was raining!

The abbey inside

Dom Perignon's grave marker (in the abbey)

From Hautvillers we went to Epernay, where we toured the champagne cellars of Moet et Chandon. They are 18 miles long! They age the champagne either 2-3 years or 7-8 years depending on what it is. Their most recent vintage champagne is the 2000 champagne, and they gave each of us a glass to taste. This tour was really neat, as they explained the process and we saw the stone caverns where they age the champagne.

The underground cellars

Some of the bottles in the cellar

Our tour guide and hosts prepare the champagne

We were glad we went, and especially glad we got to see the French countryside. Allison is feeling better tonight, although now we are worried that Luke is getting a cold! Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. We have enjoyed reading the comments that many of you have posted. Thanks for reading about our trip!

1 comment:

Guppy & the Worm said...

HI, SO glad Allison is feeling better!! We'll continue to say prayers that Lucas doesnt get the cold!! WE enjoyed your photos and the tour! Where are you off to this week? Wendy's?? Ha! Love you all, Hugs and Kisses Mom and Dad

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