A sojourn to Reims, the illustrious Champagne and Coronation hub, unveils a vital chapter of France’s history, intertwined with the sprawling Champagne vineyards.
This captivating town boasts an abundance of focal points and an impressive tally of 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites, rendering it an unmissable destination on your French escapade.
To facilitate your expedition, I’ve meticulously crafted a compilation of 15 imperative attractions in and around Reims, coupled with carefully outlined itineraries for exploring the city in 1, 2, or 3 days. Naturally, my insights and counsel accompany this guide to enhance your experience.
Furthermore, if the question of lodging in Reims lingers, rest assured, for I’ve assembled a curated assortment of the city’s premier accommodations, provided at the conclusion of this article.
Top Tip for visiting Reims : Get the Reims City Pass for free museum entrance, unlimited use of public transport, a guided tour and several discounts
Select Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
It stands as THE essential architectural marvel in Reims, a veritable nucleus of the city’s allure and a primary magnet for tourists, and its fame is entirely justified.
Look for the following:
- Erected during the 13th century, the Reims Cathedral, also referred to as “Our Lady of Reims” or “Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims” in French, emerges as a consummate masterpiece of Gothic architectural ingenuity.
- Rising from the ashes of its predecessor, which fell victim to a devastating fire around 1210, this cathedral embodies the epitome of the artistic prowess of its era’s craftsmen. Outstripping even the famed Notre-Dame of Paris in size, it has borne witness to the coronations of no less than 25 French monarchs, a testament to its profound historical significance. This sacred sanctuary now claims its rightful spot among UNESCO’s cherished World Heritage Sites.
- In total, the count stands at 33 French kings who received their crowns within the hallowed confines of Reims, a tally that encompasses Clovis, the inaugural king of the Franks, whose baptism was conducted by Saint-Remi in the city’s initial cathedral.
- Marvel at its astounding dimensions: Measuring a remarkable 150 meters in length, 48 meters in width, and soaring to a majestic height of 83 meters.
- Gaze upon the Harmonic facade, an architectural masterpiece divided into three distinct sections, a quintessential embodiment of Gothic design.
- Engage with the multitude of 2,303 statues that grace the cathedral’s expanse, among them the renowned “Smiling Angel.”
- Be awed by the imposing 38-meter high nave, a soaring space that envelops you in the cathedral’s grandeur.
- Traverse the Kings Gallery, adorned with an assembly of 56 statues, each surpassing a height of 4.5 meters, captivatingly positioned on the west facade of the Cathedral.
- Ascend the North Tower’s 249 steps, a guided tour offering you the exclusive opportunity to explore the terrace and rooftop, where panoramic vistas unfold before your eyes.
- Discover the Henri Deneux Garden, nestled adjacent to the cathedral, providing an intriguing perspective of the cathedral’s rear section.
Visiting Select Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims: The Reims cathedral is open everyday from 7h30 to 19h30. Entry into this magnificent structure is available without any admission fee. However, a guided tour option exists, priced at 8€ per person—a worthwhile investment that I strongly recommend!
Remember or those in possession of the Reims City Pass, the guided tour is offered at no additional cost, presenting an excellent value-added opportunity to delve deeper into the cathedral’s history and splendour.
Also check below for the Availability for the Guided Tour of Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims by the Tourist Board.Read more about Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
The Palace of Tau
Situated in close proximity to the Cathedral and sharing the distinction of UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Palace of Tau once served as the official abode for the Archbishops of Reims.
In modern times, the palace has transformed into a museum and a repository for the Reims Cathedral’s treasured artifacts. Among its prized exhibits are objects of paramount significance that have been integral to the coronation ceremonies of kings, including:
- The revered “Holy Ampulla” or “Sainte Ampoule,” an essential element in every coronation since the reign of Clovis.
- The talisman attributed to Charlemagne.
- The ceremonial coat worn during the coronation of Charles X.
- The chalice linked to Saint-Remi.
- Furthermore, your journey through the palace unveils an array of tapestries and imposing statues sourced from the cathedral itself. As you traverse these halls, you are immersed in a vivid tapestry of history and grandeur.
Visiting the The Palace of Tau: The Palace of Tau is worth a visit if you have the Reims City Pass or if you take a combined ticket with the cathedral guided tour (11€). At 8€ per person if you only go there, it’s in my opinion a bit expensive for 1h-1h15 of free visitRead more about Palais du Tau (Archbishops' Palace)
Reims Saint-Remi Basilica
Emerging from its origins in the 11th century, the Saint-Remi Basilica stands as a testament to resilience, having weathered near-complete destruction during the tumultuous era of the First World War. Within these hallowed walls, you’ll encounter the revered relics of Archbishop St. Remi, the pivotal figure responsible for the conversion of Clovis to Christianity—a fact we touched upon earlier.
Though slightly more modest in scale when compared to the cathedral, the interior of the Saint-Remi Basilica of Reims is far from lacking in grandeur. Its architectural finesse delighted me personally, leaving an indelible impression. Despite its slightly off-centered location, the basilica’s beauty is undeniable, warranting a visit for those with an appreciation for splendid churches.
In the context of Reims’ other renowned landmarks such as the cathedral and the Palace of Tau, the Saint-Remi Basilica might not carry the same level of familiarity among tourists, but that aspect is far from a detriment. It exudes a sense of tranquillity and authenticity that adds to its allure. A true gem among the city’s array of attractions.
Visiting Reims Saint-Remi Basilica: The Saint Rémi Museum is open every day 2:00 pm to 6:30 pm (until 7:00 pm on weekends). Admission is 3 €.Read more about Basilique Saint-Rémi
Joan of Arc Statue, Reims
Dominating the square that gazes upon the cathedral stands a peculiar statue of Joan of Arc. Mounted on a rearing horse and wielding a sword, her countenance is curiously devoid of expression. This enigmatic figure, often referred to as the Maid of Orléans, shared a momentous historical occasion with Charles VII: his coronation at the cathedral on 17 July 1429.Read more about Joan of Arc Statue, Reims
While in Reims, an essential endeavour is to embark on at least one exploration of the renowned champagne houses that have established their presence in the town since the 18th century. The only conundrum that presents itself is the selection process: the likes of Mumm, Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Champagne Pommery, Tattinger, and Ruinart, among others, proudly open their doors to visitors.
Each experience will lead you into the depths of the crayères—man-made chalk tunnels that predate the champagne industry. Within these subterranean passages, the optimal conditions of temperature and humidity facilitate the crucial second fermentation occurring within the bottle, the process responsible for the iconic effervescence. Maison Ruinart notably holds the distinction of being the initial producer to establish itself in Reims. Its tunnels, situated a remarkable 40 meters below the surface, are designated as a historical site and enjoy protective status.Read more about Champagne Pommery
Adjacent to the Pommery Caves stands a stunning mansion, constructed at the dawn of the 20th century during the shift from art nouveau to art deco.
Having been neglected in the 80s and 90s, it underwent a remarkable renovation in 2004. Paul-François Vranken, the president of Vranken Champagnes, generously funded the restoration, reviving the villa’s original Belle Époque magnificence.
The mansion now boasts exceptional furnishings and decor, including elegant chairs designed by Gustave Serrurier-Bovy and a breathtaking Cuir de Cordoue ceiling by Émile Gallé.
Additionally, a notable fireplace, crafted by a disciple of Louis Majorelle and showcased at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1900, graces the mansion.Read more about Villa Demoiselle
St. Remi History Museum
Adjacent to the basilica, the former royal Abbey of Saint-Remi houses the St. Remi Museum, also known as the “Musée Saint-Remi.”
The edifice, the third in Reims to be designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a compelling destination in its own right, drawing visitors with its remarkable architectural splendour. Notably, the captivating cloister and the imposing main staircase stand out as must-see features.
Yet, the museum’s interior is equally captivating. Spanning across 17 exhibition rooms and boasting an extensive collection of artefacts, it unveils a vivid historical narrative of Reims from its prehistoric roots through the Renaissance era.
Visiting St. Remi History Museum: Adults €5.50. Tuesdays to Sundays 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.Read more about Musée Saint-Rémi
Porte de Mars
The Reims Mars Gate, also referred to as the “Porte de Mars,” stands as a remarkable Gallo-Roman triumphal arch.
Among a quartet of monumental arches symbolizing the entrance points to the city of Durocortorum (Reims in that era), this arch claims the distinction of being the sole survivor, its structure largely intact.
Stretching across approximately 30 meters in length and towering nearly 15 meters in height, this arch is recognized as the most expansive triumphal arch in the Roman world, a truly grand sight that should not be overlooked during your sojourn in Reims.
Within the arch’s interiors lies a treasure trove of rich ornamentation, including an artwork depicting the iconic scene of the she-wolf nurturing the twin siblings Romulus and Remus, the legendary founders of Rome. This sight alone warrants your careful exploration.Read more about Porte de Mars
Reims-Champagne Automobile Museum
Many are unaware, but Reims is home to one of the top 5 automotive museums in France. It might be an under-the-radar attraction, but it’s definitely worth a visit!
The Reims Champagne Automobile Museum showcases an impressive collection of over 230 vehicles, ranging from 1908 to contemporary models. Whether you’re interested in the Marne taxi, racing cars, or anything in between, there’s a vehicle for every enthusiast. In addition, the museum displays a collection of over 5,000 miniature vehicles and toys reflecting the automotive industry.Read more about Reims Champagne Automobile Museum
Beneath the ancient forum of Reims, now known as the “place du Forum de Reims,” lies one of the three galleries of the Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus, termed “Cryptoportique gallo-romain.” Historically utilized for storing grain, this architectural marvel is now open to the public and features temporary exhibitions.Read more about Reims Cryptoporticus
Hotel Le Vergeur Museum
The Hotel Le Vergeur Museum is housed in a 15th-century mansion, recognized as a historical monument. In the early 20th century, this grand structure was the residence of the esteemed collector and benefactor, Hugues Krafft.
Since Krafft’s passing in 1935, the mansion has remained preserved, and today, it stands as a captivating museum welcoming visitors.Read more about Musée Hôtel Le Vergeur
Porte de Mars
Constructed during the 2nd century AD as a tribute to Emperor Augustus, this colossal trilateral gate stands as a testament to the past. Intriguingly, you have the opportunity to traverse both its surrounding space and the area beneath it, granting you access to a wealth of intricate carvings and inscriptions. Among the meticulously rendered details, you’ll encounter depictions of Roman deities such as Jupiter and Leda, as well as legendary figures Romulus and Remus. This architectural marvel takes its name from the nearby Mars God of War temple, serving as a prominent entryway to the city of Reims until the year 1544.Read more about Porte de Mars
Musée des Beaux-Arts
Housed within the confines of a former abbey, Reims’ Museum of Fine Arts bears a unique lineage, having its origins rooted in the tumultuous era of the Revolution. Its collection is a product of the times, comprising works seized from the aristocracy that once populated the region.
In the years following, the museum’s repertoire expanded through generous donations, culminating in a comprehensive panorama of the principal European artistic movements spanning from the 16th century to the 20th century.
Among the distinguished artworks, you’ll encounter creations by luminaries like Renoir, Matisse, Monet, and Charles Le Brun—credited with adorning the Palace of Versailles. Notably, the museum stands out for its assortment of 27 masterpieces by the 19th-century landscape virtuoso, Camille Corot. This collection ranks as the second-largest of its kind globally, cementing the museum’s reputation as a hub of artistic brilliance.Read more about Musée des Beaux-Arts, Reims
Fort de la Pompelle
Part of the nationwide Séré de Rivières defensive network, developed by France following its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War, this fortress stands as a significant component of that strategic plan.
Fort de la Pompelle, completed in 1884, stood fortified with six 155mm de Bange guns, and was manned by a contingent exceeding 270 personnel.
Despite Reims enduring some of the most intense battles during the First World War, this fortress remained impregnable. Despite enduring nearly four years of relentless bombardment, it remained unconquered.
Today, visitors can explore the subterranean passages, originally excavated during the conflict, and immerse themselves in the Freise collection, boasting a remarkable assemblage of approximately 550 German Pickelhaube helmets. Additionally, a dedicated space commemorates René Dorme, a fighter ace who achieved 23 victories and met his end near Reims in 1917.Read more about Fort de la Pompelle
Place Royale, Reims
Nestled at the heart of the city, Place Royale stands as a testament to magnificence. Conceived in the neoclassical style in 1760, the square boasts an array of architectural elements including rooftop balustrades, graceful arcades, and ornate cast-iron lanterns.
Its creation was a tribute to King Louis XV, a majestic monument befitting his honor. Dominating the square is a statue portraying the monarch in the guise of a Roman Emperor, a symbolism that’s no coincidence considering the square’s location on a portion of the ancient Roman forum. The original statue of the King, crafted by the renowned artist Jean-Baptiste Pigalle, met its demise during the Revolution. However, the pediment beneath it endured, displaying Pigalle’s depiction protected by the King.
The present statue, conceived by Pierre Cartellier, dates back to 1818, adding to the square’s regal ambiance and paying homage to its historical significance.Read more about Place Royale, Reims
Within the expansive grounds of the Mumm Champagne house, situated opposite their cellars, awaits a captivating treasure to uncover.
Tsuguharu Foujita, a Japanese painter intricately woven into the fabric of the Paris School, dedicated much of his artistic journey to France.
In the 1960s, he envisioned a chapel nestled within the garden’s embrace, a testament to his creativity. Furthermore, he adorned the chapel’s walls with breathtaking frescoes, a display of his consummate artistry.
Notably, Foujita’s path had led him to Christianity a decade earlier, a transformation that adds a captivating layer to his oeuvre. Witnessing Christian motifs depicted in his distinctive oriental style is truly remarkable.
It’s crucial to highlight the masterful glass windows adorning the chapel, a creation of the skilled artisan Charles Marq. These elements harmonize to form a truly enchanting ensemble, a fusion of cultures and artistic brilliance.Read more about Chapelle Foujita (Chapelle Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix)
Musée de la Reddition
While not widely known, an important chapter in history unfolded within the confines of Reims’ Lycée Franklin-Roosevelt at the culmination of World War II. On 7 May 1945, Germany’s official surrender was inked within these walls, marking a momentous occasion.
In commemoration of this event, a museum was inaugurated four decades later. Within its walls, an assortment of military artifacts, photographs, medals, and newspaper clippings from that pivotal date offers visitors a tangible connection to the past.
As you explore, you’ll gain insights into the military units stationed in Reims during that era and the transformation of this technical college into General Eisenhower’s strategic headquarters.
Of notable significance is the room where the surrender document was signed—an untouched relic that preserves the exact setting from 70 years ago, providing an authentic link to history’s defining moments.Read more about Musée de la Reddition (World War II Museum)
Among the cities left scarred by the ravages of the First World War, Reims emerged as one of the fortunate three selected to receive a library as a benevolent gesture from American philanthropist Andrew Carnegie.
Within the library’s extensive catalog lies a treasure trove of literary gems. Among them are medieval manuscripts, incunabula (books printed before 1501), and an array of books produced during the Ancien Régime.
While many are drawn to its aesthetic appeal, the library’s charms extend beyond its appearance. Erected between 1921 and 1927, it stands as a remarkable specimen of art deco architecture.
Admission to the library is open to all, inviting visitors to explore its offerings in hushed reverence for a brief period. As you navigate its halls, be sure to marvel at the mosaics in the reception area, the intricate geometric railings in the Salle du Catalogue, the captivating stained glass windows, and the lantern accompanied by a fountain below—a symphony of artistry waiting to be discovered.Read more about Bibliothèque Carnegie
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