Reims (often spelled Rheims) is a city in the Champagne region of France situated about 80 miles East Northeast of Paris. Founded by the Gauls it has an extensive history and was a major city during the Roman Empire. Today's population is about 190,000.
Several places of particular interest are the following:
Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral
Notre-Dame de Reims (Our Lady of Rheims) is the Roman Catholic cathedral of Reims, where the kings of France were once crowned. It replaces an older church, destroyed by a fire in 1211, which was built on the site of the basilica where Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi in AD 496. The original structure has been erected on the site of Roman baths.
Significant details about the Reims Cathedral:
- The three portals are covered with statues and statuettes. There are more sculpted figures on this cathedral than any European cathedral except Chartres
- The central portal, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, has a rose window above it. It is framed in an arch decorated with statuary, instead of the usual sculptured tympanum.
- The inside of cathedral is about 455 ft long, and about 98 feet wide in the nave, and about 125 feet high in the center.
- The stained glass is from the 13th to the 20th century.
- The cathedral possessed fine tapestries. in particular one presented by Robert de Lenoncourt, archbishop under King François I. It represents the life of the Virgin and now can be seen in the former bishop's palace, the Palace of Tau. (see below)
- The north transept contains a fine organ in a flamboyant Gothic case.
- The choir clock is ornamented with curious mechanical figures. Marc Chagall designed the stained glass installed in 1974 in the axis of the apse.
- The treasury, kept in the Palace of Tau, includes many precious objects, among which is the Sainte Ampoule, or holy flask, the successor of the ancient one that contained the oil with which French kings were anointed, which was broken during the French Revolution, a fragment of which the present Ampoule contains.
Palace of Tau
The Palace of Tau is in Reims and was the palace of the Archbishop of Reims. It is associated with the Kings of France.
The first documented use of the name dates to 1131 and derives from the plan of the building, which resembles the letter Τ (tau, in the Greek alphabet). Most of the early building does not exist. The chapel is the oldest part remaining and it's from 1207. The Gothic architecture is reflected in the parts built between 1498 and 1509, and modified to its present Baroque appearance between 1671 and 1710 by Jules Hardouin-Mansart and Robert de Cotte. On September 9, 1914, it was damaged during WWI and not repaired until after WWII.
The Kings of France lived in the Palace of Tau before their coronation in Notre-Dame de Reims. The King was dressed for the coronation at the palace before proceeding to the cathedral and a banquet (in the Tau Room) followed the coronation. This was also held at the palace. The first recorded coronation banquet was held at the palace in 990 and the most recent was in 1825.
The Palace of Tau, together with the Cathedral of Notre-Dame and the former Abbey of Saint-Remi, became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
Museum of Reddition in Reims (Museum of Surrender)
Ten months followed the Normandy invasion of June 6, 1944, General Dwight Eisenhower (the supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe) set up his headquarters in Reims in February 1945. The location was a former technical college. In this location, the German armed forces signed surrender documents on May 7, 1945 which was one week after Adolf Hitler had committed suicide in his bunker in Berlin. The War Room where the surrender took place has been left in its original condition with maps of Europe all over the walls. These maps were used to follow the progress of the war. As well as seeing this room, visitors can watch a short film (there is a version in English) and can look at various displays connected with the Second World War.
What a place of incredible significance! This is where the Nazis actually signed a surrender agreement which gave up their grip on Europe.
Saint Remi Basilica
The Saint Remi Basilica in Reims is an important Roman pilgrimage church. It was built to hold the tomb of Saint Remi. The basilica houses a noteworthy collection of history and art and has beautiful 12th century stain-glass windows and a Cattiaux grand organ. The 11th century Romanesque nave was extended by two transepts at the end of the 12th century to allow greater access to pilgrims.
It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site
A Paris Travel offers tours to the Champagne country and you can visit Reims to taste Champagne and see the special places in Reims. Read about our Champagne tours.
Source: Reims Tourism Website