Posts Categorized: France

Soaring Vaults and Great Treasures

We planned to make the city and cathedral of Amiens a particular focus for our cathedral pilgrimage. Besides Rouen, we spent the most time exploring here than any other church or place in France. I initially considered spending our whole time exploring Chartres Cathedral, arguably the best-preserved Gothic cathedral in the country. That would have… Read more »

Amiens Cathedral: Almost Heaven

The scale of Notre Dame de Amiens is hard to comprehend, a familiar experience when visiting Gothic cathedrals. Church architecture for medieval people served a didactic function; in other words, the building was a sermon. Approaching and entering such a structure is like accessing Heaven. It is simply impossible not to become transfixed at some… Read more »

Third Stop – Amiens

Continuing our circumnavigation around the Île-de-France, our next pilgrimage stop was the city of Amiens. France’s excellent highway system makes the drive from Laon to Amiens a pleasant hour-and-a-half cruise. When driving from Reims to Laon, we took the back country roads to visit Vauclair Abbey, but on this leg of our trip, we had… Read more »

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Laon

A church has existed in Laon since the beginning of the fifth century. However, the Gothic structure we have today dates back to the 1150s, owing to a parish uprising that destroyed several buildings, including the Romanesque church. Completed in a mere 80 years, the Cathedral is a stylistically unified example of Early Gothic architecture…. Read more »

Second Stop – Laon

The second stop on our Cathedral pilgrimage was in the hilltop city of Laon. Retaining a great deal of the charm of its history, Laon looks like a storybook town out of a medieval tale. High up on a hill above the Picardy plain, its ramparts and fortifications successfully checked the invasions of the Franks,… Read more »

Christian Time Traveling

Our cathedral pilgrimage was essentially a journey back through time. Although there are cathedrals built in contemporary architectural styles, our interest generally does not point in that direction. We’re interested in the Romanesque and Gothic styles mainly due to their beauty and because they reflect the medieval attitude. That “God-centric” culture produced buildings and works… Read more »

Saint Remi and His Basilica

The baptism of Clovis I, King of the Franks, by the Bishop of Reims, Saint Remi, was a pivotal event in the Christianization of the Franks. A few blocks from the Reims Cathedral is a basilica dedicated to the Saint. Our Cathedral Pilgrimage didn’t restrict us to visiting only “cathedrals,” a church as beautiful and… Read more »

Reims – City of Kings

During my first encounter with Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims I stumbled upon the spot where Clovis, King of the Franks, was baptized a Christian. His baptism made Reims the birthplace of Christianity in France and the place where future kings would be crowned. That precedent led Joan of Arc to fight for the coronation of… Read more »

First Stop – Reims

Reims was the first stop on our cathedral pilgrimage as we journeyed counterclockwise around the Île-de-France. Reims is the birthplace of Christianity in France. Around the year 500 A.D. Clovis, king of the Franks, was baptized here by Saint Remi, the Bishop of Reims. This started the tradition of the kings of France being crowned… Read more »

Preparing for a Pilgrimage

Once we decided to do a cathedral pilgrimage we had to choose the location and extent of our journey. Columbia University’s Mapping Gothic showed us that our task would not be an exhaustive one. We were going to have to be selective. Since the Gothic style was invented in the Île-de-France (the region surrounding Paris)… Read more »