Sights in Reims
Reims is famous for two very important things. Its center is marked by the cathedral of coronations and it sits as the capital of the Champagne Region. Some visitors make pilgrimages here for only one of these reasons, but even more come for both.
Located just 90 miles east of Paris, Reims makes an easy day trip, or a stop or overnight stay on your travels through the Champagne Region. The city is named for Saint Rémi, the Bishop of Reims, who in the year 498 baptized Clovis, the King of the Franks in an act that gave birth to the French Nation. Starting in 815 Reims' famous cathedral was the location of the French King's coronations until 1825.
Top Sights in Reims
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims- This beautiful Gothic Cathedral was begun in the year 1211 on the site of an even earlier church. It is considered by many to be the most perfect Gothic church in the world. It was almost completely destroyed in the battles of World War I, but remained almost untouched in WWII, and has since been completely restored. The large rose window on the west facing front is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. Above is the Gallery of Kings, a series of statues (copies) of the famous kings who were crowned here. Equally impressive are the rest of the stained glass windows, said to be some of the finest in this nation full of beautiful cathedrals. One of the sculpted angels on the facade is smiling. You'll see postcards of her in the shops.
Palais du Tau- This former Bishops Palace dates to 1690 and is located next to the cathedral. Today it serves as the cathedral's treasury housing the original statues from the cathedral facade and the holy relics associated with Reims. Closed on Mondays.
Basilica St-Rémi- This is the oldest church in Reims dating back to 1007. Inside the church you will find the Abbey of Saint Rémi housing a museum of medieval art, arms and armor.
Musée des Baux Arts- This fine arts museums focuses on 15th - 18th Century Renaissance art and furniture. Closed on Tuesdays.
Salle de Reddition- This lesser visited site is located near the train station at 12, rue Franklin Roosevelt. It is the former school house where, on May 7th, 1945, the Germans formally surrendered to General Eisenhower. There is an original map on the wall left from that date. Closed on Tuesdays.
Champagne Cellars of Reims
Maison de Pommery- The cellars are underneath the Gothic style house and gardens of 'House of Pommery'. Descending 116 steps will lead you into the chalky cellars that run for over 11 miles. Tours are available, but reservations are recommended. Open daily from 10-6. Closed Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday in winter months.
Mumm- Mumm has been making champagne since 1827. The cellars offer a video about the manufacturing process and tours of the miles of cellars housing more the 25 million bottles of champagne. Open daily from 9-11 and 2-5, except winter months when it is closed on weekend mornings.
Piper-Heidsieck- This is one of the oldest champagne houses in the world, dating to 1785. Tours of the cellars are available via electric powered cars with prerecorded audio commentary available in 7 languages. Open from 9-12 and 2-5, closed Tuesday and Wednesday in the winter.
Ruinart- The cellars of this champagne cellar are 100 feet below ground level and date back to Roman times. Officially the House of Ruinart was open in 1729. Tours and tastings are available by appointment only.
Taittinger- This is considered one of the best French champagnes, and one of the few cellars that is still family owned. There are one hour long tours through the ancient Roman cellars which date to the 4th Century. The tours not only provide information about the champagne making process, but also about Reims' history and the Taittinger family. Open daily from 9:30-12 and 2-4:30. Closed weekends in the winter.
Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin- Tours last an hour and a half taking you through some of the 16 miles of cellars at this champagne house dating to the mid 19th century. Visits by reservation only.
Day Trip from Paris- Join an organized day trip from Paris to visit Reims and the Champagne Region. More
Private Guides: See Reims and learn about its history with a private guide. www.PrivateGuidesInEurope.com
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