Paris 2013: Day 29 — Reims


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Notre-Dame de Reims.

Wednesday, 08/21/13

The alarm goes off at 6:15am.   It is still dark outside!   No snooze button for us!   We get up, get ready, grab a couple of handfuls of cereal, and we are out the door by 6:40am to catch the Metro to the Gard de l’Est train station to catch our 7:40am train to Reims.    One thing we have learned is that we are not good at estimating how long it takes the Metro to get anywhere.

We arrived at the train station with half an hour to spare before our train leaves.  We stop at one of the cafes to get some coffee and check our email.   So, why are we going to Reims?  Reims played a prominent ceremonial role in French monarchical history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France.   Reims is also the location where the unconditional surrender of Germany took place on 7 May 1945, thus ending WWII in Europe.  Reims is a big deal!

The train leaves on time and it is a nice ride.   My DH watches the French countryside go by and I read my ebook on the Kindle.   Wait – are you sleeping, Sweetie?

Our train arrives in Reims on time and we walk to the Tourist Office to get a map and the location of a free two-hour city walking tour!    It is another lovely day – clear sky, warm in the sun, cool in the shade.    We meet our tour guide (a young British man) and a couple from Texas and begin our walking tour of the city.   This tour focuses on the architecture of Reims — both the Art Nouveau (popular during the most popular during 1890–1910) and the Art Deco (which flourished internationally in the 1920’s).

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Reims is a pretty town — filled with art deco architecture…

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…with little reminders of its medieval history.

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When in Reims, you must go to the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims, formerly the place of coronation of the kings of France.

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Need I mention that the Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims is big?

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Well… it is big!

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Marc Chagall designed this stained glass installed in 1974 — it is very modern! Chagall is known as “the quintessential Jewish artist of the twentieth century”.

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When visiting a cathedral, always remember to look behind you!

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The Carnegie Library, the former public library built with money donated by Andrew Carnegie to the city of Reims after World War I, is a remarkable example of Art Deco in France.

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This is the light fixture in the entry hall of the library.

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This is the reading room in the Carnegie Library . This is the sort of office my DH envisions for himself someday.

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After our tour, we stopped for lunch.  Since we could not find many restaurant recommendations on-line, we just looked at the food people were eating as we walked by.  This brasserie (with a free table outside) had good looking dishes so we sat down.   We had the special of the day — Braised Pork in a mustard sauce with noodles. It was excellent!

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After lunch, we took the long walk to the Surrender Museum. Here is the War Room of General Eisenhower’s supreme headquarters (S.H.A.E.F.). This building was originally one of Reims’ technical colleges. But it was in this location that the Allied Forces put an end to the Second World War in Europe by obtaining the unconditional surrender of the Third Reich’s armed forces.

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A newspaper mounted in the entry of the Surrender Museum.

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One of the many exhibits that are found in the Surrender Museum. It was very interesting to see the uniforms, furniture, and weapons of both sides of the war.

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The table in the War Room where the surrender was signed.

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After the Surrender Museum, we took the tram to see…

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… the Abbey of St. Remy. Louis IV of France was buried here.

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This abbey is big too!

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Some of its medieval chandeliers still exist here.

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Many valuable objects from the abbey were looted in the French Revolutionary period, including the stained glass windows. These are a more modern replacement but still spectacular to look at.

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This window is positioned over the entry doors — it is mostly yellow and very modern.

After the abbey, we took a slow walk through the town center and back to the train station.  We caught the 7:15pm train back to Paris and headed straight back to the apartment.   Even though it was a nice day in a lovely town, it was still a long day.  I warmed up some leftovers for dinner.   Tomorrow there is no need to wake up early — nice!

Quote of the day:  “I guess any restaurant will do.”  — DH on the lack of on-line Reims restaurant recommendations.

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