194 � squaremeal.co.uk
There's no wine quite like
Champagne. It's the drink that
has celebration written all over it.
�at magical rush of bubbles, that
fine crispy, zingy freshness, make it the
most glamorous wine on earth. And for
Champagne lovers, a trip to the region has
to be top of your wish list. Make Reims
(pronounced 'rance') your destination: it's
a hop on the Eurostar, and everything is
within an easy walk. In two days you can
visit top producers and taste their wines,
and still have time for fine art, great food
and plenty of history.
Let's start with history. Dump your bags
at the hotel and head straight through the
pedestrianised old city to the Notre-Dame
Cathedral, a massive Gothic masterpiece.
Decorated with 2,000 statues on the
outside, it's impressive in the daytime,
and glorious at night when bathed in
spotlight. You will come back to marvel
at it again and again; no wonder Claude
Monet painted it endlessly.
For the French, it's a legendary place. �e
kingdom of France began here, on the site
where the cathedral now stands - with the
baptism of Clovis, who became the first
king (33 kings were crowned here in total).
Inside, seek out the brilliantly coloured
window by painter Marc Chagall. �e
nearby windows, completed in 1954,
illustrate a year in the vineyard.
Next door to the cathedral is the
suitably grand archbishops' palace, the
Palais du Tau. It's a treasure trove telling
the history of the coronations and kings
- as well as housing many of the actual
statues from the cathedral walls (they
were removed for protection, and replaced
with very convincing copies). �e number
of rooms is daunting, so head straight to
the Salle du Tau, where the coronation
Bursting with fine art, culture and gastronomy, the Champagne region is a feast for the
senses - and that's before you've even set foot in its labyrinthian cellars
ESCAPEWORDS SARAH�JANE EVANS