Reims seems to be the city that has it all: historic buildings, cultural activities, and rather a lot of champagne. Indeed many maisons de champagne are based in Reims and offer tasting sessions and tours. The city has been recognised by UNESCO not only for its historical buildings like the Palais du Tau and L’ancienne Abbaye Saint-Remi but also more recently for the cultural value of the landscape of Champagne.
- Did you know that Reims is also famous for ‘Biscuits roses’, a light pink biscuit that is unique to the region. It’s pink colour comes from the addition of carmine food colouring, and the biscuit is often enjoyed with champagne.
TO SEE AND DO IN reims
- Notre-Dame Cathedral: When in Reims, the ultimate must-see is the Notre-Dame Cathedral. Built in a High Gothic style, this cathedral is larger than its Paris counterpart and has seen many adventures in its lifetime. Traditionally used as a coronation site for the kings of France, the cathedral was turned into a hospital during the First World War and took heavy damage from shells. Thanks to the restoration that began in 1919, it is now back to its former self
- Palace of Tau: The Palace of Tau is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and was the former residence of the Archbishop of Reims. It was also a residence for kings before they were coronated in the nearby Notre-Dame Cathedral. The name derives from the shape of the building itself, which resembles the letter T (tau in Greek). The building went through a few design changes over the years, starting as a Gallo-Roman villa, then being reconstructed in a Gothic style until it finally became the Baroque palace it is today.
- Villa Demoiselle: The Villa Demoiselle is a restored villa from the early 20th century. It’s an interesting mix of both the Art Nouveau and the Art Deco styles. It was constructed between 1904 and 1908 by Louis Sorel, but in 2004 it fell into the hands of Paul-François Vranken, president of Champagne Vranken, who restored it. While exploring, look for all the little design touches such as the stained glass windows and gold-leaf painting on the walls.
- Champagne cellars: You can’t go to the region of champagne without making a visit to an authentic cellar. There are a variety to choose from since all the major champagne producers have their headquarters in Reims. Will it be Martel or Mumm? Perhaps Veuve Cliquot? If you want a personal (and cheaper) experience though, consider making a trip out of the city into the villages to see some smaller champagne houses.
- Museum of the Surrender: It isn’t so much a museum, but rather an attempt to relive an event. Rewinding back to 1945, the site of the Museum of Surrender was where the Germans signed a declaration of unconditional surrender, ending World War II in Europe. You can see original artefacts from the time such as maps, reports, and war souvenirs. The room where the signature took place has been preserved just as it was all those years ago.