The Princesses in Reims

The theme for today was champagne and kings. We were going to visit the champagne house of Veuve Cliquot and then hit the cathedral of Reims, where a number of French kings were crowned. Princessfather set up the navigation system for the Veuve Cliquot address given in the guidebooks,
and off we went!

WiseKid was of course in our car, and we had some major discussions about the music he was allowed to play on the car radio with the gadget he found on the back seat of the rental car. I actually have one myself, it transmits the iPod tunes on an FM frequency, but I don't have to tell WiseKid about that. But he found the thing, in black not white, and had it figured out in 21 seconds and playing his horrible music in under a minute.

We followed Princessfather to Reims, where it turned out they are in the process of putting in a tram system. Since it is easier to just close off all the streets and do it all at once instead of doing it street by street, the
navigation system was just thoroughly confused. And the champagne place was no longer at the published address, after we finally found it.

So we headed for the cathedral and parked in the garage nearby. I had been looking forward to seeing this cathedral, as I had heard so much about the stained glass windows and the rose window. But in reality, it was just another gothic church with flying buttresses. It had suffered a lot during the world wars, so there was not much in the way of cool stuff on the inside. And the guy manning the souvenier shop refused to speak anything but French. I feel I must praise the Berlin bus drivers - they are going to school and learning enough English to tell tourists where to go. The French can't be bothered to learn any other languages, even if they could sell twice the stuff if the tourists could ask for stuff they want to buy.

A mass was being held (it was Ascension day, after all), but in the back of the church. It was nice to hear the organ playing, but the windows themselves were rather boring. I had recently seen the Cologne cathedral on a business trip, and the cathedral in Aachen, and I found both much grander, much more fascinating by far than Reims.

The princesses liked the ramps outside and enjoyed running up and down them.

We decided to go to the Palais de Tau museum next door. That is where the kings stayed the night before their coronation and then had a little party afterwards. The first few rooms were filled with bits that seemed to
have fallen off the church at different times. Then we had the party room, covered with nice tapestries. Okay.

At the front were the "crown jewels" - a replica. The princesses were enthralled - a crown! They took 17 pictures apiece of the crown, and then we went on to the little chapel where the kings could pray, and saw all the golden stuff the kings were given for their use at communion. Lots of gold.

We went down to the cellars - nothing there, but the princesses found it grand the way their stomping noises echoed throughout the room.

We found a nice place to eat sitting outside. Not the world's best food, but okay, and sitting out was neat. We then headed for Epernay, the champagne capitol, in the hopes of getting a taste. We first stopped at Mercier, and were lucky that the next English-speaking tour was going to be in 5 minutes.

There was a bit of Disney-esque corniness on the elevators going down (they had a glass wall where you could see figures through). Then we got on a train and were pulled through cellar after cellar of champagne. The princesses loved the train ride, and the adults liked the champagne tasting afterwards.
WiseKid, not yet 18 and not able to taste, had a fit of nastiness. Even though I offered him a taste of mine, he wanted his own, and huffed off to the car to pretend he was driving and listening to LOUD music.

We were going to check out a second place, but we got there behind a bus load of Belgians, so we just bought a bottle for tasting and carried on. We tried the chocolate factory, but they were closed on account of the Ascension Day holiday. So we drove home through the rain.

WiseKid bitched about not getting cigarettes, so Princessfather offered to drive to the gas station. Turns out the French don't even sell tobacco products in gas stations, only at tobacconists. Good job, Frenchies!

The adults did a champagne test of our own in the evening after the kids (including WiseKid!) were zonked out in their beds. I do prefer the Mercier to the Castilagne.

We debated what to do tomorrow, something more kid-like. The guide book has a snail museum and donkey riding. Maybe we'll also hit the go-cart place for WiseKid.....

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