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Reims, a city in the Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine region of France, lies 129 km (80 mi) east-northeast of Paris. The 2013 census recorded 182,592 inhabitants (Rémoises(feminine) and Rémois(masculine)) in the city of Reims proper (the commune), and 317,611 inhabitants in the metropolitan area .
Founded by the Gauls, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire. Reims played a prominent ceremonial role in French monarchical historyas the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France. The Cathedral of Reims (damaged by the Germans during the First World War but restored since) housed the Holy Ampulla (Sainte Ampoule) containing theSaint Chrême (chrism), allegedly brought by a white dove (the Holy Spirit) at the baptism of Clovis in 496. It was used for the anointing, the most important part of the coronation of French kings.
|TIME ZONE :||• Time zone CET (UTC+1)|
• Summer (DST) CEST (UTC+2)
|AREA :||46.9 km2 (18.1 sq mi)|
|ELEVATION :||80–135 m (262–443 ft)|
|COORDINATES :||49°15′46″N 4°02′05″E|
|SEX RATIO :||• Male: 48.4%|
• Female: 51.6%
|AREA CODE :||3|
|POSTAL CODE :||51454 / 51100|
|DIALING CODE :||+33 3|
Reims (sometimes spelled "Rheims" in English), a city in northern France, is perhaps best known for its world heritage listed cathedral, where generations of French kings were crowned. It is also the largest city in the Champagne area and some the champagne cellars located in the city are likewise inscribed on the world heritage list.
Reims, the home of champagne (the most celebrated and celebratory wine in the world), is the main city of the Champagne area. It is a charming city, and one that the French hold dear to their hearts. There stands one of the most beautiful buildings of the Middle Ages in Europe, one that is filled with history: almost all French kings were crowned there for about 1,000 years. Most of the old houses were destroyed during World War I, and the city was extensively rebuilt in the 1920's in an Art Deco style.
Reims, Épernay and Ay are the main places of champagne production. Many of the largest champagne producing houses, referred to as les grandes marques, have their head office in Reims. Most are open for champagne tasting and tours by appointment only. Champagne is aged in the many chalk caves and tunnels, some originating in the Roman period, located deep inside the ground.
The city centre is fairly small and easily walkable, with many streets for pedestrians only, mainly in the shopping area.
Before the Roman conquest of northern Gaul, Reims, founded circa 80 BC as*Durocorteron ("round fortress"; in Latin:Durocortōrum), served as the capital of the tribe of the Remi — whose name the town would subsequently echo. In the course ofJulius Caesar's conquest of Gaul (58–51 BC), the Remi allied themselves with the Romans, and by their fidelity throughout the various Gallic insurrections secured the special favour of the imperial power. At its height in Roman times the city had a population in the range of 30,000 - 50,000 or perhaps up to 100,000.
Christianity had become established in the city by 260, at which period Saint Sixtus of Reims founded the bishopric of Reims. The consul Jovinus, an influential supporter of the new faith, repelled the Alamanni who invaded Champagne in 336; but the Vandals captured the city in 406 and slew Bishop Nicasius; and in 451 Attila the Hun put Reims to fire and sword.
In 496 – ten years after Clovis, King of the Salian Franks, won his victory at Soissons(486) — Remigius, the bishop of Reims, baptized him using the oil of the sacred phial – purportedly brought from heaven by a dove for the baptism of Clovis and subsequently preserved in the Abbey of Saint-Remi. For centuries the events at the crowning of Clovis I became a symbol used by the monarchy to claim the divine right to rule.
Meetings of Pope Stephen II (752–757) with Pepin the Short, and of Pope Leo III(795–816) with Charlemagne (died 814), took place at Reims; and here Pope Stephen IV crowned Louis the Debonnaire in 816. Louis IV gave the city and countship of Reims to the archbishop Artaldus in 940. Louis VII (reigned 1137–1180) gave the title of duke and peer to William of Champagne, archbishop from 1176 to 1202, and the archbishops of Reims took precedence over the other ecclesiastical peers of the realm.
By the 10th century Reims had become a centre of intellectual culture. Archbishop Adalberon (in office 969 to 988), seconded by the monk Gerbert (afterwards (from 999 to 1003) Pope Silvester II), founded schools which taught the classical "liberal arts". (Adalberon also played a leading role in the dynastic revolution which elevated the Capetian dynasty in the place of the Carolingians.)
The archbishops held the important prerogative of the consecration of the kings of France – a privilege which they exercised (except in a few cases) from the time of Philippe II Augustus (anointed 1179, reigned 1180–1223) to that of Charles X (anointed 1825). Louis VII granted the city a communal charter in 1139. The Treaty of Troyes (1420) ceded it to the English, who had made a futile attempt to take it by siege in 1360; but French patriots expelled them on the approach of Joan of Arc, who in 1429 had Charles VII consecrated in the cathedral. Louis XI cruelly suppressed a revolt at Reims, caused in 1461 by the salt tax. During theFrench Wars of Religion the city sided with the Catholic League (1585), but submitted to Henri IV after the battle of Ivry (1590).
In the invasions of the War of the Sixth Coalition in 1814, anti-Napoleonic allied armies captured and re-captured Reims; in 1870–1871, during the Franco-Prussian War, the victorious Germans made it the seat of a governor-general and impoverished it with heavy requisitions.
In August 1909 Reims hosted the first international aviation meet, the Grande Semaine d'Aviation de la Champagne. Major aviation personages such as Glenn Curtiss, Louis Blériot and Louis Paulhan participated.
Hostilities in World War I greatly damaged the city. German bombardment and a subsequent fire in 1914 did severe damage to the cathedral. The ruined cathedral became one of the central images of anti-German propaganda produced in France during the war, which presented it, along with the ruins of the Cloth Hall atYpres and the University Library in Louvain, as evidence that German aggression targeted cultural landmarks of European civilization.
From the end of World War I to the present day an international effort to restore the cathedral from the ruins has continued. The Palace of Tau, St Jacques Church and the Abbey of St Remi also were protected and restored. The collection of preserved buildings and Roman ruins remains monumentally impressive.
During World War II the city suffered additional damage. But in Reims, at 2:41 on the morning of 7 May 1945, General Eisenhower and the Allies received the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht. General Alfred Jodl, German Chief-of-Staff, signed the surrender at the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) as the representative for German President Karl Dönitz.
The British statesman Leslie Hore-Belisha died of a cerebral haemorrhage while making a speech at the Reims hôtel de ville (city hall) in February 1957.
Climate data for Reims
|Record high °C (°F)||16.6|
|Average high °C (°F)||4.9|
|Daily mean °C (°F)||2.3|
|Average low °C (°F)||−0.4|
|Record low °C (°F)||−22.3|
Prices in Reims
MARKET / SUPERMARKET
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€1.80|
|Bottle of Wine||1 bottle||€6.00|
|Dinner (Low-range)||for 2||€30.00|
|Dinner (Mid-range)||for 2||€50.00|
|Dinner (High-range)||for 2||€|
|Mac Meal or similar||1 meal||€8.30|
|Beer (Imported)||0.33 l||€4.00|
|Beer (domestic)||0.5 l||€5.00|
|Coctail drink||1 drink||€9.00|
|Men’s Haircut||1 haircut||€16.00|
|Mobile (prepaid)||1 min.||€0.30|
|Pack of Marlboro||1 pack||€7.00|
|Toilet paper||4 rolls||€|
CLOTHES / SHOES
|Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)||1||€88.00|
|Dress summer (Zara, H&M)||1||€50.00|
|Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)||1||€85.00|
|Local Transport||1 ticket||€1.58|
70 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- meals in cheap restaurant
- public transport
- cheap hotel
228 € per day
Estimated cost per 1 day including:
- mid-range meals and drinks
Transportation - Get In
Since the high speed train line has been opened, Reims is linked not only to Paris, but also to major cities in the country: Lille, Bordeaux, Nantes, Strasbourg, ...Charles de Gaulle Airport is only 30 minutes away and offers good connections to the South-East (Lyon, Avignon, Marseille, Nice, Montpellier). Trains to cities other than Paris leave from the brand new Champagne-Ardenne TGV station, located just outside the city. This station is connected to the central station through bus and local train. When booking your ticket, check the station you'll be arriving to or leaving from as many people get mixed up and miss their train
Although one can get cheaper tickets if travelling on the regular train lines (with a change of trains in Épernay), it will take over 2 hours and one might get a much better deal buying a TGV ticket a few weeks in advance.
Transportation - Get Around
While the centre is fairly compact and easy to get around by foot, if you want to go further afield then try the buses. They're very reliable, run regularly, and despite local complaints, good value at €1.55 to go anywhere. If you intend to use them a lot, buy a carnet of 10 tickets from bars, tabaco shops or newspaper shops. single tickets can be bought on the bus but make sure you have the right amount. You can also buy day tickets which are interesting if you take the bus at least 4 times during the day Reims Public transportation website
Taxis are reasonable (about €2 a mile) but you can't hail them and they have to be booked in advance, which can be difficult if your French isn't above conversational level.
With TGV a day trip to (or from) Paris is possible (it takes 45 minutes). Be aware you have to book in advance, but at least you can do this in English online at SNCF.com.
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Reims has all the usual stores you'd expect in any major town. The Galeries Lafayette has menswear, womenswear, kidswear and a food hall downstairs, which sells English food at exorbitant prices if you feel homesick.
There is a small shopping centre, Espace d'Erlon, which has a Monoprix downstairs, not a bad bet to buy your Champagne at prices that aren't inflated as they are in some tourist shops. It also has a FNAC (the French equivalent of HMV) which sells CDs/ DVDs/ and Books, including English ones.
There are two wine cellars facing the cathedral, both of which sell a wide variety of champagnes at pretty much the same price as the maisons themselves, sometimes cheaper.
If you feel the need to buy English or American newspapers, there is a news stand opposite the Gluepot (the English Pub) on the Place d'Erlon. The guy who runs it is extremely good fun and revels in the chance of speaking English.
The Place d'Erlon is the near beating heart of the city (It's not exactly a hotbed of activity!) . There are many great places to eat here from cheap burger bars (Q, a Belgian McD's) to Anglo-Irish bars, to the very expensive, but very good Brasserie Flo, on the corner near the station. If you go around the corner onto Boulevard Foch you will find some good mid-price eateries. The restaurant in the Hotel d'Univers is supposed to be very good, according to my local friends, but looks very intimidating from the outside. The Cote, nearer the square, is cheaper and is just as good for food. The real gem worth finding is the Aux Coteaux, mainly a pizzeria but with some nice mains as well.
If you are up by the Theatre there's quite a nice cheap Chinese cafe opposite, and next to the only McDonalds in the centre of town.
There is only one Indian restaurant in town, the Taj Mahal, on the Rue de Vesle. reasonable value, reasonable food, but Gandhi is hardly going to rise from his grave to eat there. If you go further down the Rue de Vesle you come to the Place d'Erlon. The Irish pub, The Kilberry, does food, I'm saying no more. Pizzerias here are a lot cheaper than the centre of town. All seem to charge a flat rate of E4.50 for a large pizza and the Mexicanne at the Calabraise could easily pass for Pizza Express' American Hot. They also do good mains as well. If you can't find it try the Dolce Vitae, opposite the Taj Mahal.
For better ethnic food look down the road at the side of the Opera cinema for a selection of good, cheaper, French and Ethnic restaurants (Chinese, Mexican and French). Matsuri, a small Japanese restaurant, is located next to the side entrance of Monoprix.
Real top end recommendations say if you've just sold your granny for cash try the Hotel National at the station end corner of the Place d'Erlon.
Another option is to buy a baguette at one of the many patisseries and sit by one of the fountains and watch the world go by. If this is your option try the Petit Fours, a small kiosk off the Place d'Erlon, past the Opera cinema and across the lights, it's bright yellow, you can't miss it!
Sights & Landmarks
- Cathedral (Notre-Dame de Reims), Place du Cardinal Luçon. the French equivalent, somewhat, for England's Westminster Abbey, the cathedral at Reims was the church in which numerous French monarchs were officially crowned. Reims is one of the later Gothic cathedrals and renowned for its height. There is a fine interior west facade with carvings of Biblical scenes; some fine 13c stained glass in the high windows of the nave and choir; and windows by Marc Chagall (in the eastern chapel) and the two local artists Jacques and Brigitte Simon. The south transept window by Jacques Simon shows themes linked with champagne including a portrait of the monk who invented it, Dom Perignon.
- Palace of Tau, 2 Place du Cardinal Luçon. was the archbishop's palace and retains a 13c Palatine chapel.
- Porte de Mars, Place de la République. a large late-Roman period triumphal arch
- Hotel de la Salle. a fine Renaissance mansion
- Hotel des Contes de Champagne. is a fine Gothic merchant's house.
- Town Hall. dates from the 17th century. Behind it on the right is a fine art nouveau building originally for Mumm champagne, with mosaics showing the champagne making process.
- Saint-Remi Basilica. a Romanesque church some way south of the centre of town.
Things to do
- The many champagne houses and the chalk caves that are used to store and age the champagne can in most cases be visited. Most of the houses have several guided tours throughout the day in a variety of languages for a small fee, which usually includes a sample at the end of the tour. It is a good idea to call ahead to ensure that you don't miss the tour you are interested in.
Reims has a number of great museums, in particular the Musee de Beaux Arts and the War Museum, but as they all cost, visiting soon eats into your budget. The best thing about Reims is there is always something going on for free.
The best by far is the Christmas Fair which fills the Place d'Erlon with a huge number of specialist stalls, great for pre-Christmas shopping.
If you like classic cars, this is a mecca.
For the kids in the summer, the traders set up a free, supervised area in the Place d'Erlon, it even has some English speaking guardians.
For a cheaper time, head down to the Place de la Republique early on a Saturday morning (7am -1 pm) to look around the market, fish, meat, cheese and bric a brac at reasonable prices, unless they realise you're a tourist! If you don't feel like shopping, just wander about and soak up the atmosphere.
Reims has a vibrant theatre life. There is the main Theatre (Opera and Culture), La Comedie (20th century drama and film art), and further out the centre, La Cartonnerie (alternative, performance and music acts). It also has the Opera cinema which plays English language films, which one should note are marked V.O. on the board outside.
There is a free listing guide available in most bars and supermarkets called 'Sortie' which comes out on Thursday, which lists all the live gigs and cinema times.
- La Vigne du Roy, 0033 (0)126.96.36.199.23. Private/Semi-Private tours of the Champagne region. They offer Half Day, Full Day or Multiple Day Tours that will enable you to discover the Champagne region and its wine makers in a relaxed and friendly environment.
They focus is high quality boutique Wineries in mostly Grand and Premier Cru Villages. They provide tours of the vineyards and wineries and offer comparative tastings of different styles of Champagnes that are made by these artistic wine makers. We present the entire process of creating Champagne and the culture and history behind it. They also host lunches with Champagne at a winery with traditional food from local farmers. Varies.
Champagne of course !
Place de Stalingrad- There are two great places here, The Kilberry and Stalingrad. The Kilberry, an Irish pub, is where all the French drink. It's a lot cheaper than in the centre and, to my mind, has a better atmosphere. It also has lots of free music and good promotions. The manager, Mike, is generally friendly and the staff and locals are very friendly. Definitely one to watch the Rugby in. For the quieter drink, try the Stalingrad on the corner. It's a traditional French Tabac, has limited food at lunchtime. The owner, Patrick, is an English speaking Jazz fan and there is normally live Jazz upstairs on a Thursday night.
Place d'Erlon- The main street in town is home to some excellent establishments. Cochon A Plumes and the Gin Pamp are two of the few places that have happy hours. Gin Pamp, being the less expensive of the two, is typically more crowded; it also sometimes offers live music. The Cochon A Plumes, however, offers an excellent atmosphere. Other options include the microbrewery Les 3 Brasseurs, L'Apostrophe, The Shirlock Pub (where the servers wear kilts), the James Joyce, and The Gluepot.
Interested in staying out a little later? Try the LBee (complete with a small dance floor) or La Bodega! Both close around 3am. After that you will need to go to one of the few night clubs in town.
If you venture as far as the Porte de Mars, nip across to the Bar d'Anvers, across the Place de Republique, nothing out of the ordinary, but you may get involved in an interesting conversation, if you speak French and sit at the bar.
Things to know
Reims, along with Épernay and Ay, functions as one of the centres of champagne production. Many of the largest champagne-producing houses, known as les grandes marques, have their headquarters in Reims, and most open for tasting and tours. Champagne ages in the many caves and tunnels under Reims, which form a sort of maze below the city. Carved from chalk, some of these passages date back to Roman times.