à Votre Santé

It’s funny. It seems that the nicer the weather is the more we explore… but the more we are out, the less time I have to tell you all about it. So forgive me, I am a little behind. In my last post you got a brief look at our fantastic visit with the Boyd family and now I am finally getting into some of the new places we saw with them.

A must see on their list was Paris, which we did not care to join for. I sent them on their way with train tickets in hand, hoping that our plan to meet the next day in Reims would go off without a hitch, and it did! It really worked out great. Bright and early the next day we drove out to Reims, France and got there a little after their train arrived. Before they left for Paris we had talked about how to spend the day, and the goal was simple. See the cathedral. Get some champagne. In all the travel materials that we both read it seemed that Reims could be summed up by those two things and it worked out great since we didn’t want to stay too long as we had another stop in mind for the day. 

Reims is a historically amazing city. Founded before the Roman conquest around 80 BC, Reims has maintained its beauty and significance through to modern times. My personal guess is that it has something to do with my favorite drink, champagne. Reims, along with two other cities in the region, is the center of champagne production in France, and let’s be real, sparkling wine is great, but champagne is the drink of celebration and royalty. Charles Dickens said it best, “Champagne is one of the elegant extras in life”.

Most of the cellars are open for tastings and tours but unfortunately we simply did not have the time. Plus we had three kids with us, so maybe another time. From the pictures I have seen though, it would have been amazing. Many of the cellars are in caves and passages dug in a maze under the city. In these chalk caves the champagne bottles ferment and become perfection. I really did consider making the trip back to Reims as my 30th birthday celebration so we could see it for ourselves, but I decided on something more local. In any rate, you bet your bottom I bought some champagne! We got 3 bottles… two were cheaper at about $35 per bottle, but one special bottle called out to me for my birthday… a $250 bottle of Brut that came with two hand painted champagne flutes. Just 10 more days till I get to pop that beauty open.

But while I was shopping, the kids were occupied outside playing in the square.

Conveniently, right across the square was the Cathedral Notre-Dame of Reims. Just like many of the other cathedrals we have seen across Europe, it was stunning. Tall archways with incredible details, and stunning stained glass windows. During WWI, due to German bombing of the city, the cathedral burned and its image was used across France as anti-German propaganda showcasing the German aggression that targeted cultural landmarks of Europe. The cathedral of Reims is where 25 of the French kings, starting with Louis VIII in 1223, and ending with Charles X in 1825 were coronated so it truly is a French treasure.

Unlike the coronation cathedral of England, Westminster Abbey, there were no grand burial tombs, but the stained glass, as always, captivated me. Below are some pictures of the interior of the cathedral:

The exterior carvings were even more intricate showing the Kings, Popes, Patriarchs, Bishops and scenes from the bible.

With our tour of Reims complete, we headed back towards Germany with one more stop planned in Verdun. The more I read about Verdun, the battles during WWI, and the persistent Red Zone where live ammunition from WWI is still being found, I was very interested to see the area. Unfortunately we got there right as the museums were closing up for the day. We did a little wondering on our own, but I would certainly love to go back and really become educated on the history and sacrifice that was made there. Currently, a handful of Forts remain for you to visit, but as you look along the road into the woods you do not have to look far to see the remains of the horrific trenches that were dug for miles.

Overall, these two stops were beautiful, fun, and educational enjoyed by the kids and adults. I don’t think I could have convinced Fil to drive out the 3 hours for a day trip without the Boyd’s, so I am very grateful our friends were there to push Fil through this trip :). I hadn’t thought much about Reims before they had suggested it, and I am so glad we made it there. So, à Votre Santé– cheers!

P.S. our move to the states is still in the works. The only thing we know is that sometime this Fall we will be on our way, but no details as to where or when exactly yet. #ARMYlife


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