Reims may be one of France’s best kept city secrets. Long overshadowed by neighbouring Paris, Reims is a secret haven of cultural, artistic and historical attractions and her beauty is emphasised by magnificent grand buildings and fragrant tree-lined streets.
Tourism is big business in this striking city and its inhabitants are proud to showcase its long and rich diverse history. Old meets new here; Reims’ ancient monuments stand proud next to elegant and modern buildings, blending the two to create a wonderfully cultured atmosphere.
The number one attraction in Reims is the Cathédrale Notre Dame. A tour around this grand building equals a tour through France’s long history. The cathedral started construction in 1211 and was essentially finished a century later. It stands on the site of 5th century churches, making it an important religious site for the city. This impressive Gothic cathedral was the location where Charles VII was coroneted with Joan of Arc standing by his side in 1429. As you walk down the centre you can almost imagine walking in the footsteps of royalty and historical heroes.
The Basilique St-Rémi is another tourist hotspot that draws visitors to it like a moth to a flame. An important UNESCO World Heritage Site, this stunning Benedictine abbey was the place where King Clovis and 3000 soldiers were baptized by Bishop Remigius. The facade of the building still manages to take your breath away despite the fact that its Romanesque styling has been mostly worn away. Its early Gothic design is clearly evident and the two styles showcase its extensive and powerful history.
If you are interested in more modern history, then one of the things to do is pay the Musée de la Reddition a visit. Found in the northwest of the city, this was the location where Nazi Germany officially surrendered in May 1945. The old maps are on display for all to see and there is an interesting film in English, French and German which tells of the history of the war and its end.
For something different and a little more light on the heart, a visit to one of the region’s champagne caves should not be missed out upon. The French are famous for their champagne and several of the producers offer tours with a fabulous tasting session at the end for all to enjoy. The three most popular places are Mumm, Pommery and Taittinger.
Reims is very proud of its gastronomical heritage and although champagne may be what it’s known for outside France, it has a long history of producing gingerbread. There is no place on earth that makes gingerbread the way Reims’ traditional chefs makes it. However, if you are not a fan of gingerbread, the restaurants here offer a range of traditional French cuisine to make your tastebuds quiver in anticipation.
The accommodation in Reims is utterly charming and delightful. Many of the hotels, guesthouses and B&Bs have won national and international awards for the services and the prices here are much more reasonable than other cities in northern France.
Reims is a city that will leave you fascinated and in awe. It welcomes you with open arms and will never let you go, making a destination that never leaves your heart.