The largest town in Champagne is labelled Town of Art and History with Art-Deco architecture, nine champagne houses and five Michelin-starred restaurants.
A listed Town of Art & History, Reims is shaped by its past and epitomises style, offering the culture of a big city with the charm of a smaller town. Stroll along its handsome boulevards lined with striking Art-Déco façades and prepare to be bowled over by its architectural features. There are nine champagne houses to visit in Reims (some of whose cellars have Gallo-Roman origins) plus five Michelin-starred restaurants – and as December approaches, the city sparkles with the lights of its Christmas market, the third largest of its kind in France. Don’t miss…
UNESCO-listed since 1991, the cathedral of Reims is recognised internationally as a model of Gothic architecture. It played a central role in France’s history for 800 years as the venue for the coronations of 25 sovereigns. It was also here, in 1962, that the Franco-German reconciliation was formalised. Witness the stunning light that floods through its stained-glass windows and admire its flying buttresses and innumerable statues. At a length of 150m with 80m-high towers, it’s a remarkable feat of construction.
Palais du Tau
Next door to the cathedral and also UNESCO-listed, this former archbishops’ palace houses original statues from its neighbour plus an exceptional collection of 17 tapestries from the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries. Kings would set out from here for their coronations and would return afterwards for lavish banquets in the Great Hall.
Basilique and Musée Saint-Remi
Reims’ oldest church and one of the finest early Romanesque churches in northern France. Its Gothic vaulted roof was added in the 12th century, illustrating the concept of an ascent to heaven. The nave houses the relics of Archbishop Saint Remi (440-533), which have made this site a place of veneration since the 8th century, as well as the holy lamp used for historic coronation ceremonies. The basilica is still an important religious site and a pilgrimage takes place every year in October to venerate Saint Remi's relics.
The exceptional museum housed in the old monastery buildings adjoining the basilica has 3,500 square feet of exhibition space in over 17 rooms and displays a fascinating collection of antiquities, including archaeological finds from Gallo-Roman times. Learn the history of the city of Reims as well as facts about its military past.
Musée des Beaux-Arts Reims’ excellent fine arts museum has an extensive array of antiquities, paintings, drawings, art objects, tapestries and furniture, spanning the 16th to the 20th centuries. Make sure you see the series of 19th-century landscapes from Corot and the works of the Impressionists, such as Monet and Renoir.