Surprise and Delight|
|Had my parents allowed me, when I read a book, to pay a visit to the country
it described, I should have felt that I was making an enormous advance towards the ultimate conquest of truth.|
|Saturday, April 17|
Early evening departure from Toronto International Airport for an overnight flight to Paris.
Sunday, April 18,
Morning arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport where we are met by our splendid Breton driver, Gillles, whith our
private moter coach. Leaving Paris we travel east through the pleasant area of the Marne Valley to the town of
the birthplace of the poet,
Jean de La Fontaine(1621-95) best known for his Fables. We shall visit his house, Le Musee Jean de La Fontaine. Nearly in the Bois Belleau is
the Aise-Marne memorial and the rows of corsses marking the graves of 2,288 men killed in World War I.
En route to our hotel in Champagne we visit Rheims,its capital, to see the magnificent Gothic Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Rheims,
one of the two or three greatest cathedrals in the world. It was the setting for the coronations of French Kings from the middle ages until 1825 when Charles X was crowned. It is especially notable for
its magnificent west facade: the Gallery of Kings, Rose wondow, and Smiling Angel. Much of its 13th C. glass remains but in the axial chapel six windows designed by Marc Chagall were placed in 1976.
Later we drive through the picturesque viliage Hautvilliers overlooking the Marne Valley. It was here, according to legend that the 18th C. Benedictine monk, Dom Perignon developed the technique of
We proceed to our hotel near Epernay,
Le Chateau d'Etoges,
|built at the begining of the 17th C. by the Counts of Anglure, and set among wide moats, gardens and orchards. It prides itself on its
warm hospitality and fine food.|
|Monday, April 19,|
Today we explore some of the history and heritage of Champagne when we drive south to the ancient art town of Troyes.
Its magical old city centre of cobbled streets, medieval facades, half timbered buildings contains
much to do and see. The Municipal Library boasts a very pld collection of manuscripts, incunabula, and bindings dating back to the 7th C. Near the cathedral is The Musee d' Art Moderne housed in the 16th C. Bishop's Palace. The
collection includes drawings, sculpture and nearly 400 paintings. Troyes is also famous for its shopping, claimed to be the best in France outside Paris!
Later in the day we visit a 17th C. Chateau at Cirey-Sur-Blaise.
In 1734 when Voltaire, because of his Letters Philodphiques, was perceived to be a threat to the political establishment in Paris he fled to the Chateau de Cirey, the home of his long-time mistress,
Mme Du Chatelet (1706-49). He lived here for nearly ten years supervising the renovation of the house
and working with Mme Du Chatelet (who was a mathematician) on philosophical issue. He worte a number of his drama tragedies during this period.
Later we see the Chateau de grand Jardin, leisure home of the first Duke of Guise and one of the architectural jewels of the 16th C. It is notable for having one of the finest Renaissance gardens in France.