Reims is an artistic city and most known as the joint capital of Champagne. Restricted by a belt of sweeping boulevards dating back to the 18th century, the city is decorated with glorious monuments including the Cathedral and Basilica, and is within easy reaching distance of its renowned vineyard district. Reims was a major city in the Roman Empire. The Porte de Mars, its oldest monument, is an impressive 30-meter long triumphal edifice with three archways flanked by columns. The Cathedral of Reims was for monarchs of France what Westminster Abbey has been in the United Kingdom: a sacred shrine of coronation. Champagne ages in the many caves and tunnels forming a maze under the city. They are carved from chalk, and some of these passages date back to Roman times.
Location: In the Champagne Wine Region
Reims lies 129 km (80 miles) east-northeast of Paris in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, and is served by two main railway stations: the Gare de Reims in the city center for regional transport and the new Gare de Champagne-Ardenne TGV outside the city with high-speed rail connections to major French cities like Paris, Metz, Nancy, and Strasbourg. The closest airport is Châlons Vatry (XCR/LFOK) in Châlons-en-Champagne, 71 km from the city center.
Business: Producing the most sparkling wine in the world
Along with Épernay and Ay, Reims is one of the centers of French Champagne production. Many of the largest Champagne-producing houses, les grandes marques, headquarter here. Champagne making is a solid financial asset for the city.
Culture: 2,000 years of living history
A 4th-century Gallo-Roman sarcophagus preserved in the archaeological museum in the cloister of the abbey of Saint-Remi gives us a first sign of the city’s pre-Christian culture before Attila the Hun put it through fire and sword. Traditionally the site of the crowning of the kings of France, the city held the Sainte Ampoule, containing the chrism delivered by the Holy Spirit at the baptism of Clovis in 496. It was used for the anointing, the most major part during the coronation ceremony.
Activities: The grandeur of Gothic architecture
No better way to spend your time in Reims than to marvel at its three monumental buildings. The Notre-Dame de Reims boasts an impressive facade and an awe-inspiring interior. The Archiepiscopal Palace of Tau served as the residence of the kings of France on the occasion of their coronations. The Saint Remi Basilica with its Romanesque nave and transepts dates from the 11th century. And of course, visitors should not pass up the opportunity to “taste the stars,” as Dom Pérignon said.