Having a penchant for the champers, I appreciated the tasting session of some of Northern France’s bubbly brought back from my parent’s recent trip to the Alsace. Joining my aunt and uncle, my parents headed towards the joint Champagne capital – Reims in search of the region’s finest.
The blood coursing through the veins of Reims‘ citizen is well diluted with fizz. Underneath the streets, the well-stocked cellars of the les grandes marques stretch far and deep creating labryinth of bubbly.
At Taittinger, three million bottles slumber in the former wine cellars of a 13th-century church. “It takes a remueur 10 seconds to rotate 60 bottles one eighth of a turn,” our guide explains, as we pass racks of upside-down bottles. Even more lie deeper, 60ft underground in galleries cut out of the chalk by the Romans.- Paul Wade, The Telegraph
The region has applied for it’s fifth unesco world heritage site for Champagne to join the others – the gothic Notre-Dame, the Basilica of Saint-Remi, the Saint-Remi Museum and the Palais du Tau with its pontifical treasure. In fact Reims has an interesting historical blend between the pious and the pissed…
She points out the city’s emblem, a 13th-century figure known as L’Ange au Sourire. “As a child, I asked why the angel had such a happy smile,” Françoise recalls. “‘Because it’s been drinking champagne,’ was the reply!”
Fittingly, the champers-capital has celebrated the coronation of 33 kings, from Clovis, the barbarian-christian first king of the Franks in 496 to Charles X, the last king in 1825 and most famously, Charles VII after Joan of Arc (who would eventually burn for heresy in Reims) had lead the French army to several important victories in the Hundred Years War.
As my parents attest, Reims now, with its art-deco streets would make a fitting backdrop for any F. Scott Fitzgerald novel. After it was flattened by the Germans in 1914, the town was rebuilt in the popular style for the 1930s golden age, primed for Gatsby to Charleston with Champagne coupe in hand.
So to leave you with the paraphrased words of the Monk Dom Perignon…
‘Come quickly, my brothers, for I am drinking the stars!’
- Tattinger champagne scion breaks away to uncork her own dynasty (telegraph.co.uk)
- Reims – Part II (emilyhambi.wordpress.com)
- Exploring Reims (dabblingintraveling.wordpress.com)
- Reims, France: Cathderal city (wiedemannvacation.wordpress.com)