L’Epine and its basilica!!!

Let me update this one a novelty of my road warrior trips in my belle France. I have heard of this basilica but always a bit off the way to other places and never passed by it. Finally, there was the opportunity and as everything else in my belle France, it is magical. Let me tell you a bit more on the Basilica Notre Dame at L’Epine!

The small town of L’Épine, in the Marne dept 51 , region of Grand Est, near Châlons-en-Champagne, towards Verdun. We drive all over our beloved France and into Europe, we come across some interesting towns, we stop see, sometimes eat and then move on. The trip in the Marne department 51 are always welcome, this is the heart of Champagne. My wife’s side and she came here early to work in the vineyards and earned their first money.

We drove going elsewhere actually coming from Châlons-en-Champagne on the N44 to catch up with the faster autoroute A4 and moving on to Verdun and back.  It was a pleasant stop and a nice historical and religious center of France. I am talking about L’Epine but more importantly about the Basilica there.

Do not know hardly anything on public transport here and only know by reading that there is a bus connection with the regular line 110 Sainte-Menehould / Châlons. The schedule below from the city of L’épine in pdf file: http://www.mairie-lepine51.fr/media/ligne_110__081462400_1538_01102020.pdf 

The town of L’Epine or Thorn belongs to the metro or agglo area of Châlons-en-Champagne The next biggest town is you guessed it  Châlons-en-Champagne and is located 8 km west. The train station closest is located in Châlons-en-Champagne at 9km. the city hall or mairie is at 33 avenue du Luxembourg 51460 L’Epine. 

The main thing or only thing to come here is to see the wonderful Basilica of Notre-Dame de l’Epine, whose construction began in 1405 and finished by 1527 , and where we can see a Santiago de Compostela statue in wood from the 16C

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The statue of the Virgin holding the Child Jesus was discovered in the Middle Ages according to legend in a bush of thorns on fire and from this comes the name of the town and devotion to the Virgin. The Church received Basilica status in 1914. The Basilica has dimensions like a Cathedral and done in the Gothic style. The façade inspired by that of Toul Cathedral has three portals on two arrows, the one on the right has 55 meters high and on the left demolished in 1798 to put a telegraph was rebuilt in 1868. There are gargantuas figures outside like at Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris.

Inside there is,also, a robe in stone with 3 arcades from the 15C where the Virgin is held. You can admire a rood screen from the end of the 15C, the right arch of which houses the statue of the Virgin at the origin of the fame of the basilica. Several statues such as the Venerated Virgin (circa 1300); Seated Virgin (15C), Saint Jacques in wood (16C); Remarkable Entombment of the Trojan school, early 16C; Altars dated 1542; 16C beam of glory; Tribune and organ case (16C); the gallery adorned with eight apostles and seven pagan gods ; Choir organ from the Merklin house installed in 1889; Stained glass windows from the 19-20C.

Many travellers were amazed by the beauty of this Basilica such as Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Joris-Karl Huysmans, Paul Claudel and Paul Fort. The two important dates here are the pilgrimage of the Diocese in May and the Assomption Day as it is the Patron Saint day.

Is really worth the detour for the magnificent of the Basilica, between Reims and Verdun on the A4 and off the N44 towards Châlons-en-Champagne, you will be gladly surprise.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are:

The city of L’Epine on the basilica in French: http://www.mairie-lepine51.fr/basilique/histoire/

The Châlons-en-Champagne tourist office on the basilica: https://www.chalons-tourisme.com/visiter_bouger/basilique-notre-dame-de-l-epine-pcu0000000001115/

The metro or agglo area of Châlons shows more in French of this magnificent Unesco World Heritage site Basilica and al.: http://www.chalons-agglo.fr/decouvrir/patrimoine-inscrit-par-l-unesco-424.html

Hope you enjoy the post as I do and come visit the Basilica Notre Dame when possible. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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