Reims in Champagne-Ardenne is renowned as the city of the coronations where the French kings were crowned in the impressive Reims Cathedral.
Founded by the Gauls as Durocorteron, which became a major city of the Roman Empire, Reims has a vibrant history that has taken in some of the most important events of the 20th century as well as being the site of the French coronations. Monarchs stayed at the beautiful Palace of Tau before their coronation and the Sainte Ampoule was brought from the Abbey of St Remi to the cathedral in order to peform the rites of anointing. All three buildings, as well as the Basilica of St Remi, are recognised UNESCO World Heritage sites today and are all unmissable visits whilst in Reims. A visit to the area is not complete without sampling some of the region's most famous product - champagne. With several champagne houses in the city and vineyards all around, you are spoilt for choice to find your favourite champagne. Reims is however, well known for less happy reasons, as over 80% of the city was destroyed during WW1 and the ruined cathedral, which has since been restored, became one of the most important images for anti-German propaganda in France. In WW2, General Eisenhower and the Allies in Reims received Germany's unconditional surrender that ended the war. Following the destruction of the city, much of the city centre was rebuilt during the 1920s in the Art Deco style with some stunning geometrical patterns on the buildings and arcades.
With such a long and interesting history to explore, it is hardly surprising that Reims has several great museums. The St Remi museum inside the abbey of St Remi houses four collections related to the city - the history of the abbey and its tapestries, a Gallo-Roman archaeological collection, weapons from ancient times to 1870 and a history of the city from prehistory to the 16th century. The Fine Arts Museum is housed inside a part of the former Abbey of St Denis whilst the former Jesuit college contains the collection of the Regional Fund for Contemporary Art (FRAC) of Champagne-Ardenne and has a planetarium outside. The world wars reserve special attention with the Museum of the Surrender at General Eisenhower's War Room containing the Signing Room where the act of unconditional surrender was signed and Fort de la Pompelle Museum which holds collections of uniforms, weaponry, artillery and a unique Friese collection of 560 items of headgear that belonged to the German Imperial Army. There are many sites of rememberance across the city with war memorials to the nurses, martyrs of the Resistance and to the dead of Reims as well as the soldiers who died in the war. More museums and sites of rememberance including cemeteries and locations of battle can be found in the area around Reims. Other sites worth visiting include the Château de Condé, the Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus, and the Place Royale dedicated to Louis XV. The city has some great parks and gardens with the 12 hectare Parc Léo Lagrange and the historic Parc de la Patte-d'Oie created in the middle of the 18th century. Why not go for a hike in the nearby Parc Natural Regional de la Montagne de Reims or take a trip in a hot air balloon to explore more of the countryside that this beautiful region has to offer?
Visit the champagne houses of Reims to enjoy some champagne and understand the process of making this world-renowned wine. Producers including Mumm, Champagne Pommery and Champagne Lanson all have champagne houses in the city and Champagne Lanson gives tours of its vineyards, the production process and its wine cellars. Reims has many specialist food and wine shops where you are sure to pick up a bottle of local bubbly, perfect to enjoy with some chocolates from Reims' great chocolateries. The Espace d'Erlon is an excellent shopping centre in the city centre for all your needs - fashion, health and beauty, jewellery, multimedia and more and there is at least one market in the city every day. Whilst in Reims don't forget to try some of its famous biscuits roses (often enjoyed dipped in champagne) and gingerbread which has a unique taste due to the use of rye flour instead of wheat flour. Dishes made with champagne are popular including poached pears in champagne and filet mignon au champagne (veal in a champagne sauce). If drinking champagne all holiday seems too extravagant then why not give the new Reims drink Café de Reims a try? A coffee made with Montagne de Reims whisky, whipped cream and crumbled biscuit rose, it is the new speciality of the city.
Region: Champagne Ardenne
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