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For over 800 years, a magnificent Gothic art masterpiece stands in the heart of the Champagne region of France – Notre Dame de Reims. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the city of Reims annually to see the cathedral and take in the splendid art and architecture of this UNESCO World Heritage Site and immerse themselves in French history.
Some historical facts about Reims cathedral and the kings of France
In the 5th century, a basilica was first built on this site. Later, it was replaced by a cathedral until fire destroyed it in 1210. The present cathedral began construction in 1211 and completed in 1296. Renovations, expansions and embellishments to the cathedral have continued throughout the centuries to modern day. World War I shelling took a heavy toll on the cathedral, necessitating a massive restoration project. Several stained glass windows designed by Marc Chagall were installed in the 1970s. For the 800th anniversary of the cathedral in 2011, some new stained glass windows designed by a German artist were revealed to the public. In its own unique way, this massive cathedral has accommodated various artistic and architectural influences.
The coronation of the kings of France
In 496, King Clovis of the Franks was baptized by Saint Remi, bishop of Reims. From this act sprang the tradition of having the king legitimized by the Church and swearing to defend it and uphold its principles. In the early 11th century, Reims became established as the city of coronations, with 25 coronations of French kings taking place in the cathedral from early 13th century to early 19th century. One of the coronations was of Charles VII, facilitated and attended by Joan of Arc.
Would you like to be awed by the cathedral in the city of Reims with its wondrous architecture and stained glass windows? Barge cruises on La Nouvelle Etoile, Saroche and Johanna include excursions to this important historic site. It is well worth the visit.
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Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
Barge trips in Champagne celebrate the only sparkling wine that can officially be called Champagne, as it was here that Champagne was born. The 514 kilometer long River Marne passes right though this wine growing region rich with history and refined culture.
The Village of Hautvillers
The village of Hautvillers is a well loved excursion on Champagne barge cruises. Long considered by many to be the birthplace of Champagne, the village of Hautvillers is a centuries old site perched high on a hill with expansive views of the Marne Valley and vineyards. Many of the houses and buildings have wrought iron signs depicting the profession or activity of its inhabitants. It is a photographer’s dream to wander the streets and alleys to capture artistic photos.
The Abbey d’Hautvillers
The restored Abbey d’ Hautvillers dates back to 650 and includes a church, circa 1600s arcade entrance, gardens and two tombs. The church, affectionately known as Saint Sindulphe, boasts a great deal of handcrafted, artistic detailing and historical items. Among them is a 17th century gallery pipe organ that includes a trio of keyboards and more than 400 pipes. There are also outdoor sculptures onsite too but that’s not what draws foodies to this site.
At one time, it was home to Dom Perignon, the monk who gave the world its first taste of what would go on to be one of the most beloved champagnes. He was born in the 1600s to family with strong ties to Champagne’s viticulture and died during the fall of 1715. Thus, it should come as no surprise that he had so much to contribute towards the perfection of both 18th century wine and champagne making techniques.
The abbey and gardens are private and can be visited by invitation only. The church is always open to the public.
Moet & Chandon Champagne House
The 270 year old house of Moet & Chandon located in Epernay now owns the Abbey d’Hautvillers. It is a perfect place to stop before or after a trip to the famed abbey. Barge passengers are typically invited to sample champagne flights and explore the site’s 28-kilometer long cellars with a guide. During the guided tour, you will learn about the adult beverage’s connection to the infamous Marquise de Pompadour, Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte and the brand’s founders.
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Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988