Château-Thierry is located in Champagne, a word that traces its root to the Latin for “open field.” It also translates to “battlefield.” Either term is very accurate for the area. Not only is it a land of wide open spaces, but it’s also been long crisscrossed by battlefields. The grapes of Champagne have been nourished by the blood of soldiers for millennia.

Continue reading Château-Thierry

La Ferté-sous-Jouarre: From millstones to chateaus

La Ferté-sous-Jouarre has a bizarre claim to fame. It used to make the world’s best millstones. On a roundabout when you enter the city, you’ll see your first millstone, but nothing is made of it.

The Guide de découverte du patrimoine meulier is a nice leaflet with maps that indicate interesting places and information from La Ferté-sous-Jouarre’s heyday as the millstone capital of the world. Unfortunately, some of the things listed in the guide are in the process of being built, while others don’t exist any longer!

Continue reading La Ferté-sous-Jouarre: From millstones to chateaus

Exploring Reims in Champagne, France

Located ninety miles northeast of Paris, Reims was magnificent before the first World War, when most of its historical buildings were flattened and replaced by more modern buildings.

Today, the greatest of the remaining historical buildings is the Cathedrale Notre-Dame, blessedly spared; from the first French king through Charles X in 1825, coronations were held here and only here.

Continue reading Exploring Reims in Champagne, France

Langres: Getting Lost in the Beauty and history

Langres is a walled town built on a limestone promontory overlooking the Mediterranean. Its history stretches back about two millennia. Its walls include a veritable march through history, from the second century Roman Triumphal Gate (when the city was known as Andematunum) to fifteenth and sixteenth century towers. Other gates dating back to the sixteenth and eighteenth centuries.

The most interesting building in town, the 12th century Saint-Mammes Cathedral, has an 18th century façade. You can almost smell history as you walk down the streets.

Continue reading Langres: Getting Lost in the Beauty and history

Chaumont: A Historical and Cultural Hotspot in France

Chaumont was originally called Calvus Mons, or bald mountain. It sits on the edge of a plateau where the Marne and Suize rivers come together in the upper Marne Valley.

Chaumont is built around a 10th century castle. It was first a stronghold for the counts of Bassigny, and later became the residence of the counts of Champagne until 1329, when the French crown took it.

The alliance between Britain, Austria, Russia, and Prussia promising to push on with the Napoleonic Wars until they were victorious was signed here.

Continue reading Chaumont: A Historical and Cultural Hotspot in France