Taking the rapid train to the north east from Gare de L'est, we walked through the gorgeous old city toward this beautiful cathedral. (Do note this walk is approximately 2-3 miles to the cathedral!)
Undergoing restoration (as so many French churches are these days), this church shows the contrast of light with dark. Reims Cathedral is the post of the cardinal of Reims and next to the church is the cardinal's residence, the Palais de Tao. (Do be sure to visit that as well as the cathedral for a wonderful exhibit on the crowning of French kings.)
Reims is known also for its near destruction during La Grande Guerre. In 1914 as German troops swept through northern France toward Paris, Reims cathedral was claimed by the German army. In fact, because German troops had few supplies and were unable to keep up by supply train with their own advance, they bedded down in the church. With straw on the floor and cook tents inside the church, they took over the church and the surrounding city and its inhabitants. When the French army countered their control over the city and people, the Germans hastily retreated. Before they did, they set fire to the church. Here are a few pictures I took of the pictures on display currently inside the church. Here you can see that the roof was blasted through and sunlight shown inside. After the war, the church was restored. Today, we have this lovely church to visit and recall the coronations of all French kings, except the last one, Charles X, restored Bourbon and brother to ill-fated Louis XVI.
Was Napoleon crowned here? No. He decided, as well he should, that he wished to inaugurate a different type of regime, an empire. Therefore, when he crowned himself in the presence of the pope, he did so in Paris in Notre Dame.
|Main Concourse of Gare de L'est|