Reims Cathedral – 20/5/2016

Reims Cathedral otherwise known as the Cathedral of Notre-Dame at Reims, is located in the city of Reims on the Vesle River.  Reims has been recognised as the cathedral of coronations having been the site of 25 coronations, from Louis VIII in 1223 to Charles X in 1825, only two kings were not crowned, here Louis VI and Henri IV.  Joan of Arc was actually present during the coronation of Charles VII in 1429.

Construction of the Church

The first cathedral was actually built to the east of the current one in the middle of the third century, called the Church of the Holy Apostles.  The first cathedral built in the current location wasn’t until the end of the 5th century.  By the 9th century it was decided to rebuild the cathedral to be suitable for hosting the coronation of the king and it becomes known as the cathedral of coronations from 1027 on. Unfortunately in 1210 fire ravaged the cathedral and rebuilding began in 1211.  Yet another fire in 1481 destroyed part of the roof and this required restoration work.  Since then the cathedral has suffered damage from a hurricane in 1712, looting in the revolution and German bombing in 1914.

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We decided to do an adults only day trip, combining Reims Cathedral and the surrounding champagne areas, while the kids caught up on school work.  Our first stop was to the cathedral before a relaxing lunch in Reims.  Reims cathedral suffered greatly through WW1, in early 1914 German shells hit the cathedral catching the roof on fire.  As you walk around the exterior of the church, you can actually still see the holes made from more than 200 shells that hit the cathedral during WW1, which fascinated my husband.

One of the best things about this cathedral aesthetically speaking is the stained glass.  There are still some windows with stained glass from the 13th century, like the large roses in the north and west of the cathedral and a few of the high windows.  In contrast to the 13th century windows are the contemporary ones created since 1937.  The modern windows range from classic stained glass created by Jacques Simon in 1937 to more abstract ones created by artists Marc Chagall in 1974 and Imi Knoebel in 2008.  The windows alone make this cathedral worth a visit. 

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DSCF8849 (656x800)Tourist Information for Reims Cathedral

Opening Hours

  • The cathedral is open daily from 7.30 am and closes at 7.30 pm – Monday – Saturday and 7.15 pm on Sundays and holidays 
  • 25th December and 1st of January the cathedral is open 9 am – 12.30 pm/2.30 pm – 7.15 pm
  • Last entrance is 15 minutes prior to closing


The entrance to the cathedral is free

Official Website:


Written by Karen

Updated January 2008

Castellane Champagne – 20/5/2016

This was our second visit to the Champagne region, we came here in 2002, when there was just two children.  There are many different Champagne places that you can tour and taste champagne depending on your tastes.  Andrew organised our trip and found a place where we could do an English speaking tour and tasting, without having to book in advance.  So we headed off to Castellane Champagne.

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The Castellane Champagne house is located in Epernay in the Champagne region, it was started by Viscount Florens de Castellane, in 1895.  Prior to your guided tour you can climb the tower which has posters through the decades advertising the champagne and visit the museum with equipment that was previously used in the champagne process. Your guided tour takes you down through part of the 6 km of chalk cellars.  Our guide gave a thorough explanation of the bottling methods and how they have changed from when first brewed by the monks to present day. 

The day we visited the bottling process had finished so the process was explained to us, as was how they get the different levels of sweetness in demi-sec and brut champagnes.  Following the tour you get to sample the Castellane Brut, which was very nice, but I’m still attached to my prosecco at the moment.

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A small portion of the champagne stored in the tunnels.

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From our visit in 2002

Tourist Information for Castellane Champagne

Tour Times: 

  • Tours operate from the 12th March until the 23rd of December
  • Guided tours are between 10 am – 11 am/2 pm – 5 pm
  • You need to contact them to get times and days that English tours are run.  Contact Details: Phone +33 3 266 51 19 11 or email 


Guided tours start at €14 per person and includes a glass of Castellane Brut

Official Website:

Written by Karen

Updated January 2018