Our Stay in Chalons-en-Champagne May 31 - June 4, 2017

Published: July 14th 2017
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The section between our stop at the Juigny lock and our next village to explore of Chalons-en-Champagne there were quite a few weeds. We had been told that this area has been full of weeds and many motor boats have been having problems with over heading due to an intake of weeds. Fortunately we didn’t have a problem with that, but with the weeds so thick it definitely slowed down our speed. We were going only about 3 knots (3.4 mph) so we were happy that we weren’t planning on going too far. In the end it wound up being a little less than 4.5 miles and with only 1 lock. A very easy morning making it feel like we had a bonus of a day. It was great to get to the marina in the morning as boats were leaving for the day giving us space to tie up. We had heard that this marina was thick with weeds and people weren’t sure of the depth, so luckily we were able to take a space at the quay just as you turn into the marina. An ideal spot. An additional bonus was when we checked in the captainiere spoke excellent
We Can Now Easily Identify the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall)We Can Now Easily Identify the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall)We Can Now Easily Identify the Hotel de Ville (Town Hall)

usually quite an impressive building in the village
English, was very helpful providing us with a map of the town and answering our numerous questions (well, they were definitely more my questions than Bob’s).

A short distance behind the marina the Saint-Etienne Cathedral was our first stop. It is quite interesting in that its two facades are quite different architecturally. The building of this Cathedral evolved over 5 centuries resulting in a mixture starting with Romanesque and ending with Baroque and having some Gothic thrown in for good measure. As in many instances this Cathedral is located at the same spot as an earlier church, but most details of the previous are not known. The building we visited today was started in 1120, but not completed until 1634. Numerous problems caused the delays including financial problems, modifications made during construction and damage from fire and war.

The Cathedral was the center of the walled area with its other buildings dedicated to that of the Bishop’s palace, homes for the clergy, a cloister, cellar, library, school, prison and hospital, but only the Cathedral remains and two of the gates. The Cathedral was hit by fire in 1138, repairs were made and then another
Carousels Seem to Be Popular HereCarousels Seem to Be Popular HereCarousels Seem to Be Popular Here

as we see them often in villages we visit
fire hit in 1230 causing extensive damage. Rebuilding occurred with stained glass windows being given by Louis IX, and a new nave and numerous chapels added during the 12th and 15th centuries. An eighty meter (262 feet) spire was added in 1520 which from what we saw from an engraving made quite a statement. The 17th century saw a few more bays built in the Gothic style, but the main façade was designed and built between 1628 – 1634 in the Baroque style using Corinthian columns and sculptured draping in contrast to the rest of the building. As luck would have it, in 1668 lightening struck the 80 meter spire which resulted in extensive damage again.

We have seen enough churches and Cathedrals now to recognize the damage to religious statutes that was done during the French Revolution. This Cathedral did not escape that fate unfortunately as numerous statutes were either completely removed or smashed with hammers. This typically was the time when Cathedrals were taken over and used as stables and this was no exception.

With the need to restore the Cathedral in the 19th century, some of the bays that had been
We Always are Looking for Architectural DetailsWe Always are Looking for Architectural DetailsWe Always are Looking for Architectural Details

such as these seen in Chalon-en-Champagne
added were removed and the stone spires at one entrance were removed. Thankfully this Cathedral was left quite unscathed during both WWI and WWII and extensive renovations were done allowing it to be reopened in 2009.

The Gothic style includes numerous windows to allow light into the building. They are fortunate to still have some stained glass from the 12th, 13th and 15th-16th centuries. Some were repaired in the late 1800’s and as a result the inside of the Cathedral is bathed in light.

The placement of the organ in numerous Cathedrals is interesting in that they cover the rose window on the façade, this is no exception. It has been in this location since it was installed in 1849. We have been in numerous Cathedrals throughout our travels, but this one is distinct in its very clearly defined different styles of facades, but also the green seen in the stained-glass here is unique and gives softness to the lighting.

Housekeeping chores do not escape you when living on a boat – as we have power at the marina we took advantage of defrosting the freezer. Bob has gotten it down to a science and it now takes less than an hour to accomplish. Good for another month on that chore.

The second day in Chalons-en-Champagne we searched for an ironmonger as Bob wanted to get some metal stakes for when we need to do “wilderness mooring” in the canals. We had been given some stakes by another sailor when we were in Rouen, but Bob wanted to replace one or two of them if possible. Unfortunately we weren’t that successful in finding what he wanted, but it did get us to a Brico which Bob always enjoys. Even though we were looking for metal stakes or something that he could turn into a stake, we of course had to cruise through every aisle of the store “just in case” we found something that we needed. More importantly Bob liked just getting into the aisles with wood to “just see what they have to offer here in Europe”. All kidding aside, it does take us a little bit of time to go through the store here as we aren’t good at reading all the signs so of course wandering through the store can give us ideas of things we might need. We were directed to another shop which we stopped at, but once we got inside we found that they specialized in locks and keys (with many varieties of skeleton keys available) as well as hardware for cabinets. It was interesting shop to check out, but still not good for what Bob wanted. Oh well, we will make do with what we have.

On our walk back toward the boat we wandered through the Notre-Dame-en-Vaux Church and then through the Petit Jard (garden/park) to the marina. As with most churches here, Notre Dame was built over a number of centuries with changes made numerous times. From photos that we saw the major change was that four spires were added at the end of the 13th C. During the French Revolution this church was used as a riding school and stable causing quite a bit of damage. Three of the spires were torn down so that the lead encasing them could be used. In 1814 the Coalition Army burned down the furniture and broke many of the stained glass windows. In this church fortunately they divided the organ into two parts in order to allow the
One of a Few Art Deco Buildings in TownOne of a Few Art Deco Buildings in TownOne of a Few Art Deco Buildings in Town

concrete, geometric angles and plain ornamentation
rose window to show through – a great solution. It is unfortunate to see once again the damage down to the sculptures during the French Revolution – on one of the gates there were more than 120 of them that were destroyed.

A couple more things we got to cross off our list here was cleaning off the solar panels - it is quite noticeable in the amount of energy we gain by doing this every few days. Fortunately I was able to find a photo shop that would print out the photos we took while in Damery with Ali. We could get the photos back that same day so were able to get them packaged up and sent off to Ali as we had promised. Hopefully our note that we wrote in French & English (with the help of Google Translate) will be understandable to him when he gets it – at least he will get the photos and know who it is from. Two more things to mark off our list. No matter where we are, the list to continue to be made.

We had learned from the Tourist Information Centre that
The Facades of St. Etienne Cathedral The Facades of St. Etienne Cathedral The Facades of St. Etienne Cathedral

are quite distinct and show the variety of styles used
they have audio guides that you can rent to do the historic walk through town. On our third day in town we planned on doing the walking tour, but they would only allow you to have them for a short time. We are ones that like to take our time walking around, stopping for coffee or wandering down nearby alleyways if they look interesting. A short time table to get the audio guide back just didn’t sound workable so we decided to do it on our own with some write-ups they have (and of course we can always look up things on google).

We have been trying to decide if we should go by boat to the town of Reims. We have had many that suggested we should do so with others stating it isn’t worth going. We had more people giving positive feedback on it so have been tempted to go, but we also looked at our pilot books and realized we would have quite a few miles and locks to go through to get there and then the bigger issue would be backtracking and coming back to the River Marne to continue our journey east and then south. With our interest in going, but not wanting to add any more time than necessary we opted for public transportation. We found we could catch a train to Reims and be back in the same day. Decision made. As I have all the photos ready for our time in Chalons-en-Champagne and nothing for Reims yet I’ll close for now, post this and then add another blog entry for Reims.

As for Chalons-en-Champagne – it has been a very good stop, a pleasant marina to stay in with quite a few things to see and easy access to trains – in our book that is a great combination.

Additional photos below
Photos: 28, Displayed: 28


Always Fascinated with Variety of CapstonesAlways Fascinated with Variety of Capstones
Always Fascinated with Variety of Capstones

These are in Saint-Etienne Cathedral
Showing Some of the Soaring HeightShowing Some of the Soaring Height
Showing Some of the Soaring Height

in the Saint-Etienne Cathedral
The Drawing on this Stone of a Wedded CoupleThe Drawing on this Stone of a Wedded Couple
The Drawing on this Stone of a Wedded Couple

originally outlined in various widths of lead
Bob Felt Right At Home at the Brico DepotBob Felt Right At Home at the Brico Depot
Bob Felt Right At Home at the Brico Depot

look like anything you know back in the US?
Not All Buildings Are HistoricNot All Buildings Are Historic
Not All Buildings Are Historic

an apartment building as seen from our bus to Brico
We Thought This Was a Hardware StoreWe Thought This Was a Hardware Store
We Thought This Was a Hardware Store

in a way it was but only for hardware, locks and keys!

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