My husband and I started our trip by spending one night in Paris at Le Citizen Hotel on the Canal St. Martin. We stayed there in 2015, and loved the location and the staff. Since we were taking the train from Gare de l’Est to Reims the next morning, this choice was a no-brainer. Our previous visit was shortly before the 2015 terrorist attacks, and we had enjoyed a great meal at Le Petit Cambodge, one of the targets in the neighborhood. It was important to us to go back to Le Petit Cambodge and enjoy its delicious bobun and red wine again. There is now a memorial to the victims across the street from the restaurant. Otherwise, the neighborhood seemed pretty much the same as we left it nearly four years ago.
The next morning, we walked to Gare de l’Est for the easy train ride to Reims. I picked Reims for a one-night break in the fairly long trip to Bastogne and, as usual, I would love to spend more time there in the future. It was an easy walk from the train station to our hotel, the Best Western Premier Hotel de la Paix. I can’t think of a single negative thing to say about this hotel. We left our bags and made our way to the Cathedral and the Palais du Tau.
I got “churched out” several years ago when we visited way too many churches in Rome, but the Reims Cathedral was well worth the time. We both enjoyed the Palais du Tau even more. I love to find “bookends” in my travels, and Charlemagne’s Talisman paired up nicely with his Holy Lance that we saw in Vienna. I was still a bit jet-lagged when we were in Reims, and I regret that I didn’t buy a Gargoyle magnet in the gift shop at the Palais du Tau when I had the chance. My purse was so full of crap; I didn’t feel up to the chore of digging out my wallet – that should be a “money-saving tip”!
We made our way back to the Hotel de la Paix and checked into our room, taking a break before the walk to the Surrender Museum. Our main reason for stopping in Reims was to see the Surrender Museum, and it did not disappoint. It reminded me of the Churchill War Rooms in London, and it reminded my husband of Courtroom Six in Nuremberg. There were no other visitors in the museum until we were walking out the door. Eisenhower moved his headquarters from Versailles to this school building after the 101st Airborne moved out, and it felt a bit like my high school, which was built in the 1930’s. The maps and charts on the walls in the Signing Room were fascinating to me. Some of the charts were written on giant “Big Chief” tablets that I vaguely remember from elementary school.
Our walk to and from the Surrender Museum took us by the Porte de Mars, the widest arch in the Roman world. In September 2019, the surrounding area was under construction and fenced off.