From its origin, founded by the Gauls and later conquered by the Romans in the third century, to its present day position as the capital of the Champagne wine region, Reims has a rich history. Here are ten of the unmissable sights and activities to do in this Northeastern French city.
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Visit the Cathédrale Notre Dame
This Gothic cathedral, built in 1211, features stained glass windows, a 12-petaled rose window, a Gothic organ case, and an astronomical clock built in the 15th century. Numerous French kings have been crowned at this UNESCO World Heritage Site; perhaps most the most famous event at the cathedral was the coronation of Charles VII in 1429.
Tour the Palais du Tau
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palais du Tau is the former residence of the archbishop of Reims and served as a place for French kings to host post coronation banquets. Today the Palais is a museum boasting religious relics from the cathedral and an assortment of tapestries and statues.
Learn about Champagne at the Taittinger HQ
The headquarters of these Champagne producers lies just a short bus ride to the southeast of the city center. Tour the cellars, some of which are located in Roman stone quarries dating back to the 4th century, and others which were excavated in the 13th century by Benedictine monks. Of course, don’t leave without enjoying a taste of Taittinger’s bubbly at the end.
Take in history at the Musée de la Reddition
As the name suggests, this museum focuses on the German surrender in World War II, and is housed in the building in Reims where US General Eisenhower made his temporary base. Visitors can see the Allied battle maps still hanging on the walls, as well as exhibits of military photos, artifacts and a short film.
Shop at the Halles du Boulingrin
This major food market opened in 1929, marking Reims’ recovery from World War I, and was renovated and restored in 2012. Today the Art Deco-style market is a grocery shopping destination and additionally hosts frequent exhibitions and other cultural events.
Enjoy art at the Musée des Beaux-Arts
An 18th century abbey is the home for this varied and extensive collection, which ranges from German Renaissance artists to the Impressionists. Don’t miss the version of ‘The Death of Marat’, by Jacques-Louis David, as this is one of only four versions in the world.
Explore the Basilique St-Rémi
This abbey church, named after Bishop Remigius, features a mix of architectural styles, and features an 11th century Romanesque nave and transept and a 12th-century early Gothic choir gallery and chandelier. Head next door to the Musée St-Rémi for a history lesson ranging from the Gallo-Roman era to 19th century military history.
Eat at Le Millénaire
Chef Laurent Laplaige serves up seasonal and fresh French delicacies with a contemporary twist at this elegant place, one of Angers’ many delicious restaurants. Order à la carte, or opt for a set menu, and don’t miss the starter of crab and cucumber with lime, wasabi jelly, and a chilled lemongrass lobster broth.
Visit Café du Palais
Family-owned since it opened its doors in 1930, this unique and stylish cafe features Art Deco design and a skylight. Order a glass of champagne and enjoy the opulent collection of funky artifacts and art decorating the room. On a sunny day, snag an outdoor table.
Check out Place Drouet d’Erlon
This pedestrian-only main square in the heart of the city is a prime location for some food, a drink, some shopping, or a bit of sightseeing. In addition to an assortment of bars, restaurants, cafes, and shops, the square is also home to the Église St-Jacques, a medieval parish church, which is worth a view.
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