I spent last weekend in Reims, the capital of Champagne, where has started the celebration of the 800th anniversary of the building of the cathedral. (I already wrote about this cathedral and its representation on stamps in an old post).
This celebration was the occasion for the French postal administration to issue a new set of stamps and to run a first day ceremony, which was the main purpose of my trip. (I know, I have written in a previous post that I would never again participate to such ceremony, but, well, this one was the occasion to go in a city that I really like and to have the opportunity to drink some champagne ;-) So I did not hesitate.)
We had a wonderful weather and there were a LOT of people for the occasion. The cathedral was free of any scaffolding, which did not happen since a long time. Here is a view of the front of the cathedral and a close up on its mist famous statue, the smiling angel, which has really become a symbol of Reims.
The first day ceremony was held in the palace of Tau, a palace located near the cathedral. Here is the entrance of the palace that led to the place where the ceremony was held.
The palace of Tau takes it name from its shape which looks like a T (in Greek the letter TAU). The palace is the place where the Archbishop of Reims is living. The palace was the place where the Kings of France were spending the days prior to their coronation in the cathedral (almost all kings of France have been crowned in the cathedral of Reims). The cathedral and the palace of Tau are a UNESCO world heritage site since 1991.
Here are people queuing in front of the booth of La Poste to buy stamps and get their covers postmarked with the first day cancel.
Here are people busy sticking the stamps on their cover.
And finally here is the mail box where you had to put your covers to be sure they would go through the postal service without additional ugly postal cancellation.
On the booth you could buy the block issued by the French post to celebrate the anniversary: a nice block of two round stamps, picturing two details of the stained glasses of the cathedral.
You could also buy the engraving of the stamps.
Additionally, the French post has issues a philatelic souvenir, re-using both stamps. Here is the cover and the souvenir.
And finally you could also purchase the philatelic document, containing a canceled version of the block, the engravings of the stamps and a text about the issue. Here is the cover of the document.
I sent two covers to myself (and also to some of you, my readers), I will show them here on my blog when I get them.
Beside the booth of the postal administration, there was a booth of the association of the “friends of the cathedral”. They were selling mint first day covers or maximum cards such as those two ones.