Day 5: In Reims
Jun 29, 2017
|Day 5: In Reims – looking around the city and a champagne house tour.
Weather: Expected of 23C but reached 21C.
Steps: 17 900 (10.1km) – plenty of walking today!!
I ended up sleeping with the window open which was good and gave an airflow which was great. My washing from last night, which I did while ‘waiting, waiting, waiting’ for the images to upload, was well on its way to drying (and it was dry by the evening).
Breakfast downstairs was fine, nothing too exciting, but nice to have some toast with a selection small jams – the fig jam was very nice. The machine made coffee was ok – maybe should have had tea! So after breakfast, I started my day’s adventure and exploration.
Firstly, I went to L’Office de Tourisme (Tourist Centre) just near here at the station. Just one lady was on duty and a train had just arrived from Paris so it was busy. I was enquiring about a tour of a Champagne House, as was the Japanese couple ahead of me and she said she would book one at Mumm for them so I interjected to say, “Please add me in.” This happened and were booked in for a 3:00pm English Tour.
From here I walked my way to La cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, Reims Cathedral. It is famous for its magnificent stained glass windows and for being the site for conscecration of Kings of France. This was also the case when we visited Nîmes Cathedral. Work is currently being undertaken at the front of the cathedral, as you can see from my picture. It is a wonderful building filled with many beautiful stained glass windows, from very old to ones installed in the last 5 years. I am constantly amazed at the ingenuity of engineers and designers who, hundreds of years ago, had the foresight to construct such a building. Their ‘little knowledge’ at the time has been instrumental in ensuring the building was built and it stands still as testament to their ability and commitment. Here are a few facts about the cathedral which may be of interest: (well I found them interesting!)
-401CE: First church on this site.
-1211: Building of this cathedral begins.
-1226: Louis IX crowned here.
-1825: Charles X is last King to be crowned here.
-2,302 sculptured figures adorn the building with 191 on the side plus statues of 50 animals.
-The cathedral is 138m long; 38m under the ceiling; the towers are 81m tall.
Next door to the cathedral is a 'Trésor de la Cathédrale de Reims’, Museum of the Treasures of the Cathedral in the Palais de Tau (Former Archbishop’s residence). I decided to pay it a visit and it was also very interesting as it houses many of the ‘treasures’ such a gold and silver ornaments and objects as well as stone items which have been replaced during renovations etc. A school group of late primary students was departing as I entered and the teachers looked like they’d had enough – know the feeling!!! The Main Tourism Office is located adjacent to the Cathedral so I went in and gather a little more information.
I saw that there was a local branch of Galeries Lafayette – a store over 4 levels with a large open area in the centre but no amazing ceiling! It did have some beautiful wrought iron work on the stairs and the lift enclosure.
Lunch beckoned so I went to a branch of a chain we have eaten at many times before, La Mie Câline, and chose their €5.50 ‘formule’ – a drink, a quiche and a pastry. Really good value and yummy as well. Following my lunch, it was time to walk to the Mumm Centre. It was about a 20 minute walk, past the cemetery, and on one side of the road was a magnificent building with G H Mumm on the fence and on the other was their factory. Signage was not great but I made my way in what seemed to the direction and it was correct – a group of French police were standing outside, but they were doing a private tour! The tour was the same for everyone but you could choose your tasting at the conclusion and the price varied according to your choice. I selected the base version at €20 which included the one hour tour and one tasting of their regular range champagne.
As I said earlier, it was an English tour lead by a French gentleman who had a wonderful accent in English. It started with a video of the history of Mumm and then we went down initially 7 metres before making our way to the very bottom of the ‘cave’ at 14 metres below ground level. Here also contains 25 kilometres of paths leading to storage of champagne – amazing!! Our guide explained the making process, the selection grapes, why it is ‘champagne’ and a good deal more. It was very interesting and of course cool down below – a constant 10C but with a high level of humidity, both excellent factors for the production of excellent quality champagne. As you may well know, the bubbly drink can only be called champagne if the grapes are grown within a designated area called the Champagne Region. Like all wine regions of France following the AOC (Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée) rules, the area where the champagne is produced is delimited. 5 sub-regions can be identified which are: Aube, Côte des Blancs, Côte de Sézanne, Montagne de Reims, and Vallée de la Marne.
At the conclusion of the tour of about 22 people, we returned to ground level to enter their tasting room where you were provided with your allocated drink, or dinks if you chose a more expensive tasting! I was quite satisfied with my one tasting which was very nice indeed. I chatted with the Japanese couple I had met earlier in the day and discovered he was a professor on exchange at a University in Paris, with Japanese history as his speciality. He has been here for 5 out of 6 months and he and his wife were on the tour after taking the train from Paris as their 11 year old son is on a school tour to the Loire Valley for 4 days, plus I found out he goes to a Japanese speaking school in Paris which has around 150 students attending. Amazing what you can discover in a short time using English and broken French!!!
My return walk was pleasant as the sun was fully out and it made for a lovely walk. Reims is a lovely city, well the small part I have seen at least. It has about 318 000 occupants, with 185 000 living in the ‘city area’, and a small tram system as well. It was certainly busy today in the CBD with many people enjoying the sunshine and milder weather by sitting one of the many outdoor areas, especially in the car-free mall. In the afternoon, I had a coffee and sat inside and noticed on the menu that, like many European cities, it is more expensive to sit on the exterior in the ‘square/piazza/place’.
Dinner tonight will not appear as it was some fruit and a drink!! One can not live the good life every day!!
Tomorrow I head to Épernay, a smaller town to the south of Reims, but still in the champagne region. I am there for one night.
I moved downstairs in the hope of the internet working faster but after one hour the 10 images do not appear to have been loaded!!! Oh well, sorry about that if they do not come through. Then I had difficulty getting back in so I am sending this now at 7:57 local Melbourne time.