Sun. Oct 25th, 2020

The Château de Sacy, an Art-Déco Hotel overhanging the Montagne de Reims and its treasures…

13 min read

Following our previous stay in Reims, precisely in the Hotel Continental and taking a deep advantage from its central location, to visit the cultural and artistic part of this majestic Coronation City. This time, we offset ourselves through the wide vine Champagne hillsides, enjoying the breathtaking views on this invaluable natural heritage.

That was one of the reasons why we focused our choice on this incredible Château de Sacy, a rare charming Boutique Hotel, nested in this so much acclaimed Montagne de Reims, especially by the Champagne producers. From this impressing mirador, directly born in the 19th century, our direction went then back in the Reims downtown, to discover its history treasures which built the royal notoriety of this bubbled locality. Among them, we interested ourselves upon the Cathedral where many of the French kings were crowned, plus some other surprises for you to explore, as well in our video at the bottom of this article… By Alex Plato


Have you ever tried to overstep your limits? The Château de Sacy, located upon the illustrious Montagne de Reims, and surrounded by many vineyards would help you to extend your personal panorama. Indeed, once you reach the stoop of this unexpected Boutique Hotel, what a view on these endless Champagne slopes!

Located just at 20mn by car from Reims, aka the “Coronation City”, this monumental but bucolic vintage mansion was built by the architect Pierre-Louis Gosset in 1850, initially under the name of Villa Maria, the Château de Sacy offers all the charm of the past, revisited with a modern glance… Thus, since the edifice was acquired in 2015 by the Millésime Group, straight from Bordeaux, this real potential castle was resurrected thanks to a full year of deep reconstruction.

These works were made possible notably thanks to the expertise of the decorator and antique dealer Marie-Christine Mecoen, in order to reach the ambitious challenge to rehabilitate this tired building, rich of its 54 windows open on the Champagne vineyards. Strong of a long architectural experience of 30 years and visible esthetic skills, her decisive renovation choices made the difference, within her intense reflexion (photo credits: Michael Tran).

Muchly inspired by the decorator Madeleine Castaing style which left a durable mark on the arty and antique history, especially from the 1930s, through a massive use of multicolored stripes, exotic foliages, opaline lamps, among many others. In fact, we may consider the personality of this decoration diva, as a “code breaker”, particularly of decorative arts, since her work can be characterized by a balanced wedding of distinct genres. A true melting-pot between the Directory, Napoleon III and English Regency‘s periods, that would undoubtedly amaze you once inside this pleasant facility.

Therefore, you are concretely invited to admire this huge mission accomplished, with this original restored identity of a cherished place, by combining its rich history and a glamorous transversal scenery. From the sheepskins on the bar stools, reminding us that before these animals were at home all around these grapes fields, along the lily flowers, paying homage to another famous castle in Versailles, and more precisely to the Sun King.

Once upon the time this Château de Sacy was the residence of textile merchants, a good reason for the decoration team to wear from the floor to the walls, with the premium fabrics, undoubtedly to offer back the original spirit, thanks to warm and silky materials, woolen curtains, also lined with silk. With always a reference to the golden graphics universe of Champagne codes.

Furthermore, you would also find these animal skins, along other pastel colors, from several shades of powder blue, satin canopy, this vintage atmosphere although remains contemporary and cosy, in an other part, through the 12 suites of this charming Hotel.

Indeed, the direction could afford the luxury to offer a unique ambiance for each of their rooms, offering a real birds-eye view on these vineyards, whose colors luckily evolve from a season to another. Adding to this, local products (surprisingly connected to Champagne) may be delicately served in your Directory furniture. Another way to transport you through different periods, with the help of the sweetness and the speed of this sparkling treasure.

Directly connected, ask for these bright  and spacious bathrooms, able to extend your unique moments of well-being, thanks to this marble composition, adjoining still pretty antique armchairs and sofas, along additional details producing standing out,  such as scented candles, herbal teas or just the freshness of the Spa qualified beauty products.

Maybe an extension from the Hotel Spa, where you could enjoy its Sauna and its two elegant wooden treatment rooms. Ask the care program, whether you come alone or with your friend, live an authentic relaxing experience, through their Effervescence Signature facial or personalized massages, operated with natural oils, eventually completed with the strength of the GEMOLOGY products, a French brand proposing mineral and natural cosmetics.

Cherry on the cake, enjoy their two outdoor Norwegian baths and their Yoga & Fitness area, both located on the edge of these dizzy vineyards, offering a dominant and panoramic view above Reims and its surroundings. 

This is for sure the right place for a halt after a long day of visit and before settling in the salon, where you could sip a cup of your favorite Champagne, under these crystal candelabras, adorning these warm ocher walls, topped by immaculate highlighted alcoves, as vestiges of this ancient architecture, along the open fireplace, setting in front of glass tables, framed by clear and comfortable sofas. A certain Gatsby atmosphere in a sense?

If you wish to pursue your evening with a gastronomic diner, you’re definitely at the right place. Sit in one of these rattan armchairs, nod in a way to certain essential Champagne elements, more precisely to the baskets used to harvest the grapes, still a subtle eye-wink to the past and allowing in the mean-time a real instants of comfort and conviviality for you and your guests.    

Located on the first floor of the Hotel, we invite you to discover the menu of this welcoming restaurant, again spoiled with a 360° panoramic view of the surrounding vineyards, displaying one of the most romantic frameworks you ever had…

You would get offered a huge choice between local specialities, such as: pâté en croute, river fishes, roast beef among many other regional main courses with seasons vegetables, before of course desserts inspired by grapes and Champagne! The Chef shall be glad to introduce his best dishes, prepared with the best care and quality products, selected locally and magnified with talent!

The restaurant is open every day, from 12:00 to 2:00 p.m. and from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The morning after, why not starting the day with a brunch in the same decorum, but blessed by a sunny spectacle?

Take your more suitable seat and simply take your time to enjoy these delicate morning rejoicings…  Unless you prefer to get delivered it in your personal room, for more intimacy? The Champagne world is assuredly yours!

Last tip, don’t miss to take back home a souvenir of your stay, the Hotel boutique would doubtlessly satisfy all your sudden desires.

The Château de Sacy, Rue des Croisettes, 51500 Sacy (France) / Phone : 00 33 (0)3 26 07 60 38


Reims, a martyr city, reborn from ashes…

Marked by centuries of unique royal History, the city of Reims gained nearly a new face after being unfortunately almost completely destroyed during the First World War. Indeed, nearly 1,000 German explosive shells landed through the most beautiful millenary remains, among them 300 bombs which plunged above the mythical Cathedral‘s classified roof.

An entire symbolic damage for this religious edifice, famous for having housed the coronation of many kings of France. That’s why many relics are enclosed in its walls, whose peak reaches 81 meters high, making it one of the highest Doms in France, after Amiens.

Thanks to the generosity of the Rockefeller family, an enormous reconstruction work was done to this building, so much marked by the War‘s massive injury. In addition, some facets of this site were remained at the same position, in order to show the magnitude of the important conflagrations that occurred in and around, caused by the countless bombings.

For your information, the first stone of this Cathedral, which housed the coronation of 31 kings of France, was laid in 1211 but the work lasted 300 years until 1519, Notre-Dame de Reims is both the center of an important Cathedral complex and the ideal representation of the heavenly Jerusalem for the Middle Ages humanity.

Erected between 1211 and 1516, according to a program of great artistic richness, the cathedral of Reims is undoubtedly among one of the most beautiful testimonies, left by the Gothic art.

 

Thus inside, we find contemporary stained glass windows from different periods. Indeed, the first destruction damages, dating from the Religion and the Revolution wars, rather spared this magnificent Reims Cathedral.

However, as early as the 17th century started, the rain and consequently the water infiltrations obviously resulted to necessary restoration works, as well on several sculptures of the facade.

The 19th century ushered in a series of important reinforcing acts and notably, its classification in the Historic Monuments register (1862). Although, the countless destructions resulting from the First World War, produced a series of almost uninterrupted restoration campaigns, even until the present days.

In order to keep this heritage as much as possible preserved, the French government lead a double policy of stained glasses restoration, along an avant-garde support for stained glass artistic creation.

That’s why some of these medieval windows have regained their former splendor, while, at the same time, internationally renowned artists exercised their talents, inside among  the Cathedral‘s windows.

Thus, many notable contemporary creations were born, thanks to a couple of patronage operations.

For instance, since June 24th, 2011, the stained glass windows of Imi Knoebel, a German artist of international reputation, are visible in the cathedral, on both sides, among the earlier artworks, from the famous genius of the French-Russian artist Marc Chagall (photo credits: Alex Plato).

Did you know that it’s also possible to visit the towers of the Cathedral? Thanks to a dual ticket delivered by the Palais du Tau Museum, you would be able to climb during 10 minutes and get closer to Paradise! This ascension may have been possible since the early 2000s. A guided tour lead in a limited group of 18 privileged guests. Be reactive, this visit is very successful, especially on weekends. Despite its 80 meters high and its 248 steps to walk, to reach the towers at 42 meters height, the Reims Cathedral is not the highest in France but the longest, 150 meters. Since the Parisian Cathedral Notre-Dame has recently burned and thus closed, the Cathedral Notre-Dame of Reims remains now the closest and more important religious edifice, for the tourists from Paris, willing to keep a contact with such altitude old stones.

Furthermore, the edifice proposes the largest Gallery of Kings, there are 59 of which 56 turn out to remain anonymous. By the way, anyone may find some surprises throughout the sculptures, visible from the facade. In particular, the scene of the Clovis baptism, although some may notice there an anachronism, in the way which Clovis was baptized.

On September 19, 1914, the Cathedral unfortunately burned. Twenty years were needed to Henri Deneux, architect of the Historical Monuments, and his team to restore the building. In 1938, the inauguration took place in the presence of personalities from all over the world. It should be noted that, during this World War I, that destroyed 85% of the City of Reims, of which only 20 buildings remained intact, after those violent events. 

While many traditional elements were conserved like the Gargoyles and the ubiquitous golden lily flowers, an eternal royal sign, screened in tribute of the past of the Kings’ consecration. Some changes have been operated to the installation of a reinforced concrete framework, operated within 20 years. Although it was a new material at the time, it turned out to be stronger, lighter, cheaper, insect resistant and most of all flame retardant. Maybe a suggestion for the future fixing works for the woodwork arch of Notre-Dame of Paris?

The visit continues on the northern and southern transepts which are linked and thus tell religious stories. Indeed, the southern one illustrates the Annunciation, whereas the northern part represents the Assumption, the end of the Virgin‘s life, this one needs some renovation as you could see on the picture nearby.

Moreover, those illustrated representations were indispensable in the Middle Ages, when only 10% of the French population could read. This is was a good reason for the Cathedral to be miraculously reconstructed, thanks to the generosity of certain donors like the American billionaire Rockefeller, around 1919. 

Cathédrale de Reims / 2, place du Cardinal Luçon BP 2062 / Tél. : 33 / (0)3 26 47 81 79 Fax : 33 / (0)3 26 47 99 60. The Cathedral is open everyday from 7:30 to 19:30. Unless the towers are closed from November 1st to March 14th and May 1st.


Close to this religious masterpiece stands the ancestral residence of the archbishops of Reims, adjoining these towers, since the twelfth century. By the way, this is where you can buy the visit ticket to climb them. This building switched into this classic appearance, when it underwent many architectural transformations, operated in the late seventeenth century, mainly by the famous Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte.

The Palais du Tau now houses the Museum de l’Oeuvre de Notre-Dame, where are exposed plenty of royal and spiritual treasures, coming from the Cathedral, counting on its original statuary  delicately displayed, among other numerous sacred objects, witnessing the rich history of Reims.

It wouldn’t reasonable to draw a ranking but we should tell you that the most remarkable pieces of the royal treasury would certainly either be the talisman of Charlemagne (from the ninth century) and the chalice of St. Remi (from the twelfth century).

Adding to this, consider that the reliquary of the Holy Bulb also holds a presence there, while containing the oil from a celestial origin, which anointed each new King, during the ceremony of his coronation.

 

Palais du Tau /2 Place du Cardinal Luçon, 51100 Reims / 00 33 (0)3 26 47 81 79

From January 2 to May 5: Open everyday, unless Monday, from 9.30 to 12.30 & from 14.00 to 17.30
From May 6 to September 8: Open everyday, unless Monday, from 9.30 to 18.30
From September 9 to December 31: Open everyday, unless Monday, from 9.30 to 12.30 / from 14.00 to 17.30
Closed on January 1st, May 1st, November 1st, November 11th and December 25th.


Then, you would be ravished to appreciate the huge role, played by some large American families, financially and spiritually supporting the Reims revival. Our list below is not exhaustive, but we are pleased to mention the Municipal Library, formerly located in the also burned City Hall and whose foundation of the new antenna was supported by the Scottish-American Carnegie family. In fact, his main representative was as well his main donor, William unfortunately died before attending its inauguration in 1921.

As a matter of fact, this edifice would take part of a global literary network, including a total of 2,509 Carnegie libraries, built between 1883 and 1929, across the United States, and since 1899, spreading through the United Kingdom, Ireland, in Canada, and many other ones in Australia, South Africa, New Zealand, Serbia, Belgium, France, the Caribbean Archipelago, Mauritius, Malaysia, and Fiji Islands.

At first, Carnegie libraries were almost exclusively in places with which the ancestor businessman and philanthropist Andrew Carnegie had a particular personal connection, for example his birthplace in Scotland and his adopted American town, Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania

It’s not anymore a secret that this really Neo-Classic inspired Carnegie Library was rebuilt on a hurt ground, after the thousands of bombings that destroyed Reims, as we had seen earlier during this World War I. Along the nearby Cathedral which was also wiped but in the meantime benefited from another powerful American tribe, since the funds of Rockefeller Junior were determinant for carrying out this insuperable reconstruction task, and letting this emblematic local monument rising again from its 1914 ashes, notably thanks to some modern elements to support the renovated facade, with concrete parts for instance.

If you opt to have a walk in Reims by night, why don’t you observe the multiple Art-Déco facets, visible at every part of this renovated city center? A major architectural style that was inevitably trendy at the time, when the construction decisions happened just after the post-War period.


A few steps away, you would easily realize that Reims was more populated than Paris, during the Gallo-Roman era and even more extensive, with its 650 hectares. Thus, it was the capital of the former Gaul-Belgium region, locally bounded by four gates connected to each other, with the help of ramparts.

In an other hand, this locality was also the symbolic and spiritual center of the authority, expressly exercised by the metropolitan Archbishop, over the bishops of several dioceses, throughout the north of France. A region which was constantly in movement, due to political alliances and population transfers, among other random vagaries

That was eventually a good reason to build the Saint-Rémi Basilica, a typical Romano-Gothic basilica and one of the most remarkable achievements of Romanesque art, by this time. Built in the eleventh century to host the holy Light Bulb and the relics of St. Remi, the bishop who baptized the first French king Clovis, in 498. This massive facade is noticeable from distant positions, since its size of about 126 meters long, this religious edifice really impresses anyone passing by, with its depth and the feeling of intimacy it provides inside, and unduly outside.

 

Once inside these incredible walls, take the time to admire the beauty of the details, staying alive despite numerous historic milestones. Don’t miss the St. Remi‘s tomb, throning the center of the choir, adorned with an improbable encounter between a sober Romanesque nave and the Gothic choir (dating from the late twelfth century), unless the facade was built at the same time as the choir.

This ensemble is completed by four floors, constituting an impressive set of lightness and harmony.

 

Saint Remi Basilica / Place Chanoine Ladame, 51100 Reims (France) / Open every day from 9am to 7pm, free entrance.


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