Our Blog ->Reims (Champagne Country) - April

Reims is known for 2 things: it is right in the middle of the Champagne region and has a famous church. It is also not pronounced anything like what it looks like (sounds like rhance).

This is the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Reims. This is the site where Clovis, King of the Franks, was baptized in the 6th century. French kings were coronated here until Charles X in 1825. It was built in the 1200's except for the towers, and they date from the 15th century.

They are doing a lot of work around the church itself. They are putting in a very nice "place" right in front with seating areas and a park-ish feel. Here, you can see the restoration/cleaning that they are doing on the church. One side has been cleaned while the other hasn't. Mostly, the black is from pollution although, we have also heard in some cities where the black is from smoke from fires (like WWII) that permeates the stone.

We think this is the Basilica of St. Remi, built in the 11th century. This church honors the 5th century saint who gave his name to the city. There was a wedding going on that day, as you can see in the front.

Champagne! This is the heart of the Champagne region with a lot of grape vineyards and champagne cellars (the other main town is Epernay). You can tour the cellars of various champagne houses and taste their different champagnes, which we did at 4 different places. This was at Pommery, which was created as a champagne house in the 1800's. They have a huge room which contains their tasting area, as well as this 75,000-liter cask carved by the Art Nouveau master Gallo. There is a story that goes along with it (which neither of us remember).

Almost every champagne house allows for cellar visits and tastings (at a price, of course). We did 4 of these, and they were all slightly different. At Pommery, they walk you through the caves, which houses some enormous number of champagne bottles in different stages of fermentation. However, they really don't tell you much about the process; instead they focus on the art collections that are housed down there, which changes each year. At Tattinger, for example, it is an automated "train" that you sit down and it talks you through the process of making champagne (in 13 languages). The others walk you through and talk about the different stages within the process. They all end with a tasting of the champagne.