Reims – Food, Champagne and History
Situated approximately 80 miles away from Paris, Reims is one of France’s principal centers of gastronomy, but this is far from being the only or the main reason for tourist visits to the city. This is the largest city in the country’s Champagne-Ardenne region, and it is also famous for its champagne houses and remarkable historical sights.
The name of the city is said to be linked with the story of how the French Nation was born. Back in 498 AD, St. Rémi (the name which eventually evolved into Reims) was the bishop who baptized King Clovis, the monarch who united all Frankish tribes under his Christian rule. The city became France’s center of coronation, which in a sense makes it the French equivalent of Westminster Abbey in the UK.
The actual place where the crowning ceremonies happened still exists today and it attracts approximately a million visitors every year. It is the majestic Notre Dame de Reims, an imposing cathedral which is often referred to as the most perfect Gothic church in the world. It was built over the church in which King Clovis was baptized, and its erection started in 1211.
Even though it was seriously damaged during World War I, the cathedral was restored to its glory for the delight of locals and tourists alike. Visitors are always impressed by its beautiful stained glass art, the large rose window dedicated to Virgin Mary, and the amazing Gallery of Kings, which is a collection of statues that represent all kings crowned in the cathedral. These are not the original statues, though, but very accurate copies that are meant to ensure the preservation of the first.
So where are the original works today? Right next to Notre Dame de Reims, in a stately building called Palais du Tau. Built between the late 15th century and early 16th century, this was once the palace of the city’s archbishop. Today it works as the cathedral’s treasury, holding the aforementioned statues, holy relics that are linked to the history of the city, the royal attire used in coronation ceremonies, decorative tapestries from the 17th century, and other remarkable exhibits.
For when you want to relax over a delicious meal or a good cup of coffee, the Place Drouet d’Erlon is the place to go. This is the city’ main pedestrian square, and it is beautiful both during the day and at nighttime, when it is lavishly illuminated, making the sun almost redundant, very much like Las Vegas does in the States. This is also an excellent place for shopping, with the Espace d’Erlon shopping center inviting you to get souvenirs and fashion items. Also in this square you can see the golden statue of the Winged Victory, known as Subé Fountain.
- For festival-goers, Reims is a very exciting city, with several music festivals, carnivals and a really magical Christmas Fair, excellent for gift shopping.
- Film and theater is an important part of the cultural side of Reims. The various theaters in the city offer visitors the chance to choose between classic plays or films and alternative performances and music acts.
- The most luxurious hotel in Reims is the Chateau les Crayeres.