Archive for March 19th, 2011

March 19, 2011

Champagne,history,and a kingdom Reims/Epernay

Well this evening story is about one of my favorite cities, region,and one of the first cities that I visit in France way back in 1990. It has become a fixture ever since with many family trips and even weekend getaways. There is lot to tell here so I just cover the basics, much reading and questions to fulfill a good trip here, and you can ask me for details.

First Reims, is the city of the kingdom of France, king Clovis of the Francs chose it to have his coronation there as the story goes whether leyend or not, he was to fight a big battle with the king Lothar of the Allemani both names romanised . Clovis was married to Clothilde a wisigoth from down under southern France,northern Spain,and she was Christian he was pagan. He asked her if her God was strong, and she said yes, he asked her to teach him how to pray to her God,and if he came out victorious ,he will make his new save kingdom Christian and he will be converted to it. She did, and he won the battle. Therefore, the kingdom of the Francs became Christian, and he was baptised one at Reims . Ever after, all the kings of France have to be crowned there, and all did barring one or two. And the leyend continues….

Reims as it is Epernay is the Department of the Marne (as per the river) No 51 in the region of Champagne-Ardenne; east of Paris. You reach them on the A4 autoroute very easy on exit/sorties 23 Cathedral and 24 St Remi. You can ,also, go on the D3(old N3)  national road from porte de pantin in Paris passing by Meaux on your way to Epernay and then the D951 (old N51 ) to Reims. If coming from UK the A26 from Calais takes you here too. Parking is very easy as I had parked on the street leading to the Cathedral ,rue Liebergier. On Epernay I have parked by the train station, of course plenty more parking spaces. And there are many wonderful little towns all over the area like Hautevilliers,Avizé, Ay,Chalôns en Champagne  etc etc etc.

By train you have four stations, all served by the TER regional network of trains, these stations are Gare de Reims, principal station. Gare de Reims-Maison Blanche near the hospital or Centre Hospitalier. The new Gare de Reims-Franchet d’Esperey that will have a connection with the tramway in 2011.The Gare de Champagne-Ardenne TGV and TER trains too.  You leave Paris by the Gare de l’Est for the best connections. The TER webpage for the region is here . for the bus and tram at Reims the official webpage is here,  although I have never use it, walking once in town is the best way to see the city. You can use the same train TER site for the Gare d’Epernay and come from Paris Gare de l’Est.

There is much to see, but my favorites are the Cathedrale de Notre Dame,Basilique Saint Remi,Porte de Mars, Place Royale, Palais de Tau , musée de l’Automobile, musée des Beaux-Arts, and of course the Champagne houses as many as you can ::) In Epernay, you can continue your view of the Champagne houses especially along the Avenue de Champagne.

Both cities suffered greatly during WWI and WWII with Epernay been destroyed 2/3 of it in WWI. Both were rapidly reconstructed and show lots of vitality and good life, especially maybe Epernay as it is a smaller town.

I am sure like me you will inquire about the Champagne houses, this is a must in either city. My favorites houses will be given away here, and they are not necessarily the famous names, my bottles are from Champagne G H Martel,17 rue de Créneaux, Reims ,webpage . Champagne Leclerc-Briant,67 rue Claude Ruelle, Epernay, webpage  .Champagne de Castellane, 57 rue de Verdun, Epernay, webpage . Champagne Mercier, 68-70 avenue de Champagne , Epernay (my first ever taste of Champagne! and still a family staple) webpage . Champagne Moet & Chandon, 20 avenue de Champagne, Epernay, webpage . champagne G. H. Mumm, 34 rue des Champs de Mars,Reims webpage . champagne Ruinart, (claim to be the oldest champagne house) 4 rue de Crayéres, Reims,webpage . Champagne Taittinger, 9 place Saint Nicaise, Reims, webpage . Champagne Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, 1 place des Droits de l’Homme, Reims,webpage . Champagne Vranken-Pommery, 5 place du Général Gouraud, Reims, webpage , and one not on these cities but that I buy a lot including tomorrow in Paris as not will be in the area is Champagne Michel Gonet, 196 avenue Jean Jaurés, Avize; webpage . Have a bubbly day in the Marne!

The Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims was built over an initial church from 401 AD, the actual Cathedral we see today is from 1211-1275 AD.  She was renovated in 1488AD and again after WWI where it was call the ‘martyr of all Cathedrals’. It is 149 meters long ( 472 ft) with the tour l’ange 87 meters high (287 ft). It is inmense and glorious inside, and the most beautiful from the front, one of  THE Cathedrals of France. Go left in French to the column “Decouvrir la Cathédrale” Webpage . The Basilique Saint Remi, keeps the grave of Saint Remi built around the year 1000 AD.A very renown evangelical priest bishop Saint Remi lived to 96 yrs old,and was He who baptised Clovis king of the Francs in between 496-506AD at the previous church in the spot.  It is 122 meters long (403 ft)The official webpage is here in French, . There is a museum , musée-abbaye Saint Remi next to the Basilique with gallo romans collection of mosaiques,and stones as well as local archeological finds. A ministry of Culture webpage in French tells you officially about it . Talking about museums the Musée des Beaux-Arts occupying the old building of the abbey of Saint Denis has a nice collection of portraits by Cranach l’Ancien and country scenes by Corot, flemish, Dutch,and French school of paintings. It belongs to the city so the info is at the mayors webpage of Reims here . You will love to see the Chapelle Foujita, 33 rue du Champ de Mars,a chapel in romance style dedicated to the Virgin Mary, wonderful, webpage from the city of Reims in English .

You have the Musée ‘Automobile Reims-Champagne,84 avenue George Clemenceau, almost 250 cars and motocycles from 1908 to present day, a marvelous place for the car lover in all of us ::) . Musée de la Reddition or capitulation museum, whre the end of WWII was signed on May 7 1945 at 2:41AM in one hall that has been left intact. Great historical place, at 12 rue Franklin Roosevelt,Webpage

The Palais du Tau,  is the former Archbishop palace and on the UNESCO heritage site too. All the sculptures removed from the Cathedral are here, and a great stone display of old historical figures including Charlemagne talisman amongst others, never mind the website they quoted just read from the city of Reims webpage

You can make a nice promenade walk tour of Reims and visit these wonderful architecture buildings , Hôtel des comtes de Champagne 14C owned by Taittinger, rue de Tambour. Hôtel Ponsardin, townhouse before French revolution now trade chamber at rue cérés, Hôtel Saint Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, 16C, place of birth of Saint Jean Baptiste de la Salle ,founder of the Brothers of Christian Schools, Rue Docteur Jacquin, Grand Théatre built in 1873 Place Myron Herrick, Parc de la Patte d’Oie, city center park going back to the 17C, boulevard du Général Leclerc. Pavillon de Muire, built 1565, owned by Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Rue du Temple. Place Drouet d’Erlon, the “Champs Elysées” of Reims, and the Church Saint Jacques, oldest in Reims after St Remi medieval period, Rue Marx-Dormoy.

While in Epernay, you need to walk the Avenue de Champagne with many 19C houses from renaissance to classical styles.  The Orangerie, gardens part of the estate of the house of Moêt & Chandon, its not open for visitors but you can see it from avenue de Champagne. The Porte Saint Martin, one of the oldest monument here remains of the old church of Notre Dame, at Place Hugues Plomb. Visit the Church of Notre Dame, 16C but built in 12C architecture with great decorations from the 15C and 16C, at Place Méndes France, parrish webpage in French here

On your way to Epernay on the D3 old N3 from porte de pantin in Paris, you passed by the town of Dormans here at the parc du chateau there is a monument call Memorial to the battle of the Marne is in French but a chilling account with each body of the events played here in World War I, all the front around my wife native town of just north of Meaux to Dormans.  the monument tomb was built in 1921. It has a crypt, chapel,and special stained glass windows, a cloister leading to the ossuary containing the remains of 1500 unknown soldiers.Go up a stairway of about 100 Steps and you will have a great view over the valley of the Marne and crosses….

For goodies shopping for local items, I will recommend the chocolates of Deleans, 20 rue Cérés, Reims chocolates with pink biscuits, try the pêchè du diable or devils sin!! webpage . the biscuits Fossier, just near the Cathedral ,see the stores in Reims here, ,this is a genuine local product not to missed the cookies yummy!  Chocolates with Champagne taste, well head for La Petite Friande at 15 cours Jean Baptiste Langlet, try the bouchon marc de champagne or the cork with champagne liquor ,and of course the macarons, the webpage is here . For something more kitchen use, and a local brand try the mustards and vinager of Clovis done in Reims by Charbonneaux Brabant at 5 rue de Valmy, webpage for the firm here . While in Epernay just dont missed out on the chocolates of Vincent Dallet, 26 rue du Général Leclerc, webpage ,and can even teach you how to do them !

For lodging/eating  we have stayed at the beautiful gastronomic and wonderful Les Berceaux in Epernay, just sublime and romantic, as well as exquisite French food done right with a Champagne twist, you wont go wrong here,tops, webpage For drinks and a local chat head for the Bar des Archers, 7 rue des Archers in Epernay ;tel +33 03 26 54 53 32, no web but pool available and wifi free for guests. near ave de Champagne and ave Eugéne Mercier.

In Reims we have stayed at the Mercure Reims Centre, Cathedrale, close to all ,and my favorite chain in France, the webpage is at Our eating places over the years have been many but the best were Le Colibri,12 rue Chanzy (update: sadly closed) almost in front of the Cathedral, great service, very friendly with kids, and the food is always good, piano at evenings, webpage  Restaurant Cafe de la Paix, heaven on the Erlon! menus change with the season all the best from the region, webpage For history of Reims and great food try Brasserie Boulingrin, 48 rue de Mars, webpage . For drinks old chats people watching on the Erlon,the champs elysées of Reims here for Ernest Hemingway ,webpage

There is so much to see in the area, so the tourist offices will help and if you need specifics let me know. For Reims ,  . For Epernay,

You can always get some info from the city webpage and Reims has it in English too at , and so those Epernay here

The region of Champagne-Ardenne tourist webpage in English  is at Have a bubbly and enjoy life at its best.  Cheers!!!


March 19, 2011

Some news from France XXVIIII

Ok so it seems the cold spell has come back, temps in the single digits again and not too much sun; oh well officially winter is until March 21th but not exact science. However,again Meteo France predicts temps in the high digits by end of month up to 16°C and sunny days.

Parking a car in Paris will be more expensive. Not only all the laws to make the use of the car less viable will be hit with another downer, higher parking fees. Eventually it will be a city of like London with area congestion fees and all, lol!!! and I love my car, will be in by the Tour Eiffel tomorrow mornings.  The hourly charges of 3,60€ already in the districts/arrondissements Ier, IIe, and parts of the VIIIe, IXe, XVIe , XVIIe with the highest charges in Paris will be extended to the totality of the first 7 arrondissements 1-7. In  Montmartre, the north of the  XIIIe and great part of the XIIe.  will have the rates increase from 1,20 €, to  2,40 € !. The arrondissements XVe, XIXe and XXe  will remain at 1,20 € per hour.

The before mention chateau in my blog Chantilly after some renovations will reopen its season of events. The Grandes Ecuries have all been redone its roofs to the original designs from 1721. The jardin a la Anglaise or English garden will continue to have renovation work done until 2012 , and the oldest section in the castle dating from 1718 the Salon de la Musique has been entirely renovated to its origins. All ready for the event Les Feux de Chantilly next June 17-18. webpage for the castle

If you want to be close to Spain in Paris, then one of the best in town is the El Burro Blanco or the white donkey at 79 rue  du Cardinal Lemoine 75005. richly decorated in one of the oldest buildings in the district, live dancing and flamenco music very good. webpage here .Another typical that sponsors soccer/football team in corporate league in Paris and sports TV of games in a popular area and one of my favorites is Toro Borracho or drunken bull ! 90 Rue de Charonne 75011. webpage is here .For the authentic outside of Spain you wont go wrong/ Enjoy y olé olé and olé.

Some of the pros and cons of living in Paris was shown in the French magazine Nouvel Observateur TV guide current issue 19-26 Mars 2011.  First the good reasons to stay, 1) a rich cultural fire power, 2) stay away from me city attitude that is their right, 3) Love is in the air, the city of lovers and romanciers. Now the good reasons to leave the city, a) leave an expensive apartment loaded with businesses all around you.b) leave the noice and pollution, c) totally disconnected from nature all cement and stone.  There this is from the Parisiens so what about you?

Something jazzy how about Scott Hamilton at the Caveau de la Huchette,5 rue de la Huchette 75005 March 21 and 23 from 22h for 1à-14€ admission. Their webpage

Musée des Arts Décoratifs has an exhibition until May 8, 2001 of wooden toys over the times good for kids, call “Vilac 100 ans de jouets en bois”  Webpage

Also until May 8 2011 at the musée Jeu de Paume on the jardin des Tuileries, there is an exposition entitled ” Sociéte Réaliste Empire State Building” . webpage

For something different to do in Paris ,why not a visit to the museum of the Police, Musée de la Police, it is located in the hote de la police of the 5éme  arrondissement , 4, rue de la Montagne Sainte-Geneviève fourth floor, and started there by commissaire Lépine in 1909 . It traces the history of the Paris police from the 17C to our days. It is open Mondays to Fridays from 9h -17h, Saturdays from 10h-17h  and from April 2nd will be from 10h30 to 17h30 . The police webpage for the prefect is in French but has more info,

To speak about wines, my favorite subject well a young men from Bordeaux has just created a site for socialising all the wine lovers as well as winegrowers to come and mingle together,  Vivre le Vin or enjoy the wine  this is the webpage

And speaking of wines, do not forget the VINEXPO again this year from June 19-23  at Bordeaux of course! The international date for wine lovers all over the world. There are for the trade pros but if you make arrangement with your local distributor they can provide an access badge ::) . The webpage

Before that here is another good I wont missed it for the world, the Le Salon de La Revue du vin de France, at the Bourse de Paris, Palais Brongniart, metro Bourse on May 14-15 2011, 10h-19h about 250 winegrowers from the best in France will be there as well as some internationals. This event is sponsored by the magazine of which I am a subscriber and there is a link in my blogroll at the bottom. You can charge your pass online so ready when in Paris in those days;  Anyway webpage here,billetterie-salon-rvf-2011,12836,1117341.asp

Tonite is France vs Wales in VI Nations rugby for the honor as neither can win the tournament. Real Madrid has advance to the quarterfinals of the League of Champions and will play next Tottenham Spurs next April 5 and 13 with Real Madrid playing away on the 13 and home on the 5th. European Nations qualifiers coming are  Spain vs Czech Republic on March 25th and Lithuania on the 29th. France vs Luxembourg and Croatia respectively on same dates.

Have a great rest of weekend everybody Cheers ::)

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