Tourism Champagne / Grand Est region

What to see in Reims ? Discover the city of the coronation... And champagne !

149 meters long. 87 at the highest of the bell towers, the Cathedral of Reims has seen the immense cohort of our monarchs pass by. During the Great War, Reims was besieged and considerably bombed. The result is a city center that has kept beautiful traces of the past, but also a beautiful Art Deco architecture. 288 shells have considerably damaged the Cathedral of the kings of France "it is only a wound" said Albert London in the evening of the war. Thanks to the French and the American help, it has recovered its beauty in the middle of a city which deserves a real stay...


In a beautiful region: Champagne, there is Reims. 


vignoble de Reims Photo par geniusksy/Shutterstock

vignoble de Reims Photo par geniusksy/Shutterstock


It would be wrong to summarize the Champagne region as a sort of immense vineyard, even if the most famous wine in the world has been produced there for centuries. The Champagne region has beautiful cities such as Troyes, its cathedral and half-timbered houses, Epernay and its famous "Avenue de Champagne" and Reims, at the foot of the eminence that bears its name, the mountain of Reims. 


A very old history. 


Dans la cathédrale de Reims Photo par

Dans la cathédrale de Reims Photo par


A city which goes back to the mists of time since it is the chief place of the Gallic tribe of Rèmes. The Gallo-Romans built Durocortorum there. It appears on the Peuttinger table, one of the oldest maps in the world. With the Cryptoporticus and its covered gallery to shelter the traders of the Roman forum, the Mars gate remains the most beautiful testimony of this time, it dates from the 3rd century and is 33 meters long. It was already there when Clovis came to the city to be baptized by Saint Remi on December 25, 498. Clovis and quite a lot of people since he was baptized with his warriors, which made a lot of people to immerse in the water (which must have had a funny color at the end of the ceremony, the guys not being known for their cleanliness). It is on this occasion that Rémi, bishop of Reims, pronounces these famous words "curve you proud warrior, adore what you burned and burn what you adored". Oh sure, we have the sense of the formula in Reims. 


The cathedral is the heart of the city

La cathédrale de Reims Photo par monticello/ShutterstockLa cathédrale de Reims Photo par monticello/Shutterstock

In the year 401, a first cathedral was built on the site of the Gallo-Roman baths. 55 meters long, 20 meters wide. It is in very bad condition at the time of the first coronation of a king of France, that of Louis the Pious, in the year 816, by the pope Etienne IV. It was replaced in 862 by a new cathedral which lasted 4 centuries before burning down in 1210. On May 6, 1211, the Archbishop of Reims, Albéric de Humbert, laid the first stone of the Cathedral we know today. It will take centuries to finish it. 

Royal, the cathedral is notably by its facade which displays a gallery of kings, like Notre Dame de Paris, with 56 statues that are nearly 5 meters high and among which we recognize Clovis, Clotilde, his wife, Christian and at the origin of his baptism and Remi, the one who baptized the king of the Franks. The statuary, it is besides the trademark of the cathedral. There are magnificent statues on the north portal, for example, including the Queen of Sheba, King Solomon and the famous statue of the Smiling Angel. 


Le célèbre Ange au sourire de la cathédrale de Reims Photo par Joaquin Ossorio Castillo/shutterstock/Shutterstock

The smiling angel of Reims Photo par Joaquin Ossorio Castillo/shutterstock/Shutterstock

Most of the kings of France have been crowned here, some during the works, such as Saint Louis in the year 1226 when the cathedral was barely begun. The first Capetian to have been crowned in Reims is Henry I, in the year 1027 and the last was King Charles X in the nineteenth century


The martyred cathedral 

The cathedral bombed by germans in 1914

This is how it is qualified in 1914, when, like Reims, it is bombed. Hit by 288 shells that caused fires, one of which led to the decapitation of the Smiling Angel, the cathedral was restored in 1919, with the help of American patrons, including the famous Rockefeller family. It took 100 years to completely restore it. Nearby, the Tau Palace, residence of the archbishops, was burned down. It was not restored until almost 40 years later, after the Second World War. All around Reims was very damaged and a part of the city center had to be rebuilt. 


The city of Reims is a sight to see. 

The destructions of 1914 and the reconstruction in the 20's were the occasion to build Reims in the air of time of the time, that is to say in the Art Deco style. You will find them in the city center. Reims in discovery, it is for example the "Palais du Tau" and its museum in which are objects of the coronation of the kings of France. You must also see the Saint-Remi basilica, hardly less big than the Cathedral, with magnificent statues, and the Saint Remi museum, just next door, with its cloister and its monumental staircase. Reims is also home to the amazing "Villa Demoiselle", built by the family that owned Maison Pommery, in a style that mixes art nouveau and art deco. Not far away, there is the Grand Parc Public, for a little stroll. 

Reims : the city-center / Photo by Colomban on Unsplash

If you like to make discoveries, you will pass by the Automobile Reims Champagne museum, which displays more than 230 vehicles, the oldest of which dates from 1908. If you have children, or if you have kept a child's soul, the museum also presents miniatures and car toys. The planetarium is also very original with its amazing dome showing a starry sky.


Champagne ! Vous êtes à Reims Photo par RossHelen/shutterstock/Shutterstock

Champagne ! You are in Reims Photo par RossHelen/shutterstock/Shutterstock




Reims in greed

Reims is of course champagne, with great champagne houses present there, which present their production, and which often propose visits with tasting. To give you an idea, the cheapest one is 26 euros. You can sometimes visit the crayères, these cellars dug in the white rock, and in which the bottles or barrels of champagne are stored. 


Champagne ! Vous êtes à Reims Photo par barmalini/Shutterstock

Champagne ! Vous êtes à Reims Photo par barmalini/Shutterstock


Reims is also the city of the pink cookie called "biscuit rose de Reims", made since the 17th century and which astonishes by its color obtained with carmine, a natural dye, which is added to eggs, sugar and flour. Delicious with a little champagne. You can get it at the Maison Fossier which offers mini or even powdered versions. You can also try the croquignoles of Reims, a kind of meringues since they are made with egg white, flour and sugar. 


Des biscuits roses de Reims / Photo par barmalini/Shutterstock

Des biscuits roses de Reims / Photo par barmalini/Shutterstock


Practical information : 

To know everything about tourism in Reims it's here 

To visit the Champagne region it is here 

To visit the Grand-Est it's here. 

Reims is located at 150 kms from Paris (A4 freeway link or Nationale 4), that is to say 1H45 of journey by car. You can easily get there by TGV in 47 minutes from the Gare de l'Est in Paris. The same for the TGV : 53 minutes from the Roissy Charles de Gaulle station. 

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme Prod'homme

Jérôme est "monsieur de France" l'auteur de ce site.