Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral, France – August 2007
For me, the best part about travelling is when you arrive somewhere with no real expectations. This means that you have no preconceived notion of whether you are going to like the place or not, and no picture-postcard idealised image in your mind. It is only when you arrive somewhere in this frame of mind that you give a place permission to surprise you, delight you, and imprint itself on your soul.
We arrived in Reims late one summer afternoon, after a long day’s driving from Heidelberg in Germany. We checked into our apartment for a quick overnight stay and as there was still enough light for a stroll before dinner, we ventured out. All we knew was that Reims was the capital of Champagne production, and that there was apparently a rather nice cathedral somewhere. Being a sucker for cathedrals, we thought we’d take a quick look, but nothing prepared me for what we found. Imagine Notre Dame de Paris, but brighter on the inside and totally devoid of throngs of tourists and you begin to get an idea. It is a space to delight the eye and lift the soul – and all the better for being discovered unexpectedly in the middle of an unremarkable provincial French town.
Notre Dame de Reims was completed in the 13 century and is considered to be a masterpiece of gothic architecture. The coronation of French monarchs used to take place here and today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
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