A Traveller's Guide to Reims, France
The city of Reims in northern France is best known as the home of champagne and the Norte Dame Cathedral. The town was largely destroyed during WWI and much of the city was rebuilt in an Art Deco style during the 1920s. Major monuments such as the Cathedral and Palais duTau were also damaged at this time, but have since been restored in their original styles.
Notre-Dame de Reims is a Gothic-style cathedral built in the Middle Ages and is historically significant as the coronation place of nearly all French kings for an entire millennium. Some of the key architectural features of the cathedral are the carvings of Biblical scenes on the western facade, 13th century stained glass and windows by Marc Chagall and other local artists. In particular, the south transept window includes a portrait of Dom Perignon, the monk who invented champagne.
The head offices of many of the largest champagne producers are located in Reims, with most offering tastings and tours in a variety of languages. It is recommended that bookings are made in advance for these tours. The champagne itself if aged within the numerous chalk caves and tunnels deep underground and it is well worth the tour fee just to catch a glimpse of these.
The Palais du Tau is another place of interest dating back to the 15th century. In the past, kings prepared for their coronations there and held lavish banquets there after the ceremony. Today, the Palais du Tau is a museum exhibiting relics from the Cathedral, tapestries and the formal attire worn by French kings.
A few hundred meters away from the Cathedral is the Abbey Saint Remi dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. It boasts an impressive facade and staircase featuring a portrait of Louis XV.
Several interesting museums are also located in Reims, including the Musee de Beaux Arts, War Museum and Musee Automobile.There a plenty of things to see for low or no cost in Reims as well. Festivals and Carnivals are held throughout the year. Fresh produce and bric-a-brac markets are held every Saturday morning at Place de la Republique.
There are plenty of places to eat in Reims offering local fare at varying costs as well as fast-food and a la carte meals from around the world. French bars are also plentiful however there are English and Irish pubs in town as well, with many venues offering live music from a variety of genres.
The fastest way to travel in and out of Reims is on the high speed rail line. Cheaper fares are available on regular trains but on these it usually takes around 2 - 4 times longer to reach your destination.