Reims

Overview

Introduction

Reims is about 80 mi/130 km northeast of Paris and the principal city of the region where champagne is produced, though many would agree that the highlight of the city is its magnificent Gothic cathedral, the Cathedrale Notre Dame, begun in 1211 and completed almost a century later. Most of the kings of France were crowned there. Don't miss the stained-glass windows by Marc Chagall in the chapel and the statue of Joan of Arc in full body armour. You can also climb the 250 steps up the cathedral tower for a panoramic view.

Other city highlights are the Musee des Beaux-Arts (fine-arts museum) housed in an 18th-century abbey with tapestries and art by Cranach and Corot, the historical museum Musee St-Remi (lapidary collection) and the Place Royale (ornate mansions and arcades).

If time permits, the best way to see the surrounding area is by canal barge tour, which can take anywhere from a few days to a week.

For a taste of the champagne-making process, head a bit south of Reims to Epernay, with its statue of Dom Perignon (the monk who discovered the method for making champagne) at the Moet and Chandon cellars. Visit at least one of the cellars, which have immense underground galleries carved into the hillsides. This little town is also home to Perrier-Jouet and Pol Roger, as well as the 19th-century Chateau Perrier (now a champagne museum).

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