Day 7

We had arrived in Reims late in the day, so we didn’t have much time for visiting. We continued our visit the next morning, a calm and quiet Sunday.

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Sadly, scenes like this are a sign of the times in France these days.

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Several times a day during our time in Paris, and continuing thereafter (although less often), we would encounter squads of heavily armed soldiers on patrol. They were usually in groups of four, one of whom would have an automatic weapon. I found it interesting that in nearly all the squads one or more of the soldiers were women–often the one with the machine gun. There was a bomb scare near the Notre Dame during our visit, but no attacks or violence. Still, the roaming squads of soldiers made the continuing threat very clear.

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Nevertheless, the famous smiling angel looked cheerfully down from her perch on the cathedral. She’s seen violence that makes today’s challenges seem minor by comparison.

After spending some time admiring the cathedral, we visited the adjacent Palace of Tau. It made me smile when I noticed that the young man who took our tickets was reading Kafka.

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It doesn’t seem that they entrusted this to someone fluent in English

On the night before their coronation in the cathedral, the soon-to-be kings of France stayed here and a banquet was held in their honor. We had the place largely to ourselves.

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The future king and his guests dined here

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The chalice of the coronation

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A detail from the Reliquary of the Holy Ampulla, which contains the anointing oil said to have descended from heaven for the coronation of Clovis. This 19th century reliquary was made to hold the oil which survived destruction of the the original vessel during the French Revolution

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The Crowning of the Virgin. This was originally over the central portal of the cathedral. It was damaged during the German shelling of Reims during WWI.

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Cherie with a (perhaps) life size statue of Joan of Arc

Of course these days Reims is probably most famous for its champagne. After leaving the museum we walked to the Taittinger visitor’s center, for a tour of their cellars.

Champagne grapes are grown  throughout the region. The chalk soil is ideal for growing the grapes, and the chalk cellars (caves) are ideal for storing and aging the wine.

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One of the stairways originally used by the monks

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When in Champagne…

We left Reims in the late afternoon, and drove to Epernay, a pretty town surrounded by vineyards and probably now most famous as the home of Moet and Chandon.

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We found a nice place to stay and settled in for the evening. We got out our map and thought about where to go next…