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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Coordinates: 49°15′46″N 4°02′05″E / 49.26278°N 4.03472°E / 49.26278; 4.03472

Place du Parvis, Reims(1).jpg
Place du Parvis and statue of Joan of Arc
Reims is located in France
Country France
Region Champagne-Ardenne
Department Marne
Arrondissement Reims
Intercommunality Reims
Mayor Adeline Hazan (PS)
Elevation 80–135 m (260–440 ft)
Land area1 46.9 km2 (18.1 sq mi)
Population2 188,078  (2008)
 - Density 4,010 /km2 (10,400 /sq mi)
INSEE/Postal code 51454/ 51100
1 French Land Register data, which excludes lakes, ponds, glaciers > 1 km² (0.386 sq mi or 247 acres) and river estuaries.
2 Population sans doubles comptes: residents of multiple communes (e.g., students and military personnel) only counted once.

Reims (pronounced /ˈriːmz/ in English and [ʁɛ̃s] in French; traditionally written "Rheims" in English), a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France, lies 129 km (80 miles) east-northeast of Paris.

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 history as the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France. Thus the Cathedral of Reims (damaged by the Germans during the First World War but restored since) played the same role in France as Westminster Abbey did in England. It housed the Holy Ampulla (Sainte Ampoule) containing the Saint Chrême (chrism), allegedly brought by a white dove (the Holy Spirit) at the baptism of Clovis in 496, and used for the anointing, the most important part of the coronation of French kings.

Some sources regard Reims as the capital of the province of Champagne, given its size as by far the largest city in the region.

The 2008 census recorded 188,078 inhabitants (Rémoises (feminine) and Rémois (masculine) in the city of Reims proper (the commune), and 291,735 inhabitants in the whole metropolitan area (aire urbaine).



Reims functions as a subprefecture of the department of Marne, in the administrative region of Champagne-Ardenne. Although Reims is by far the largest commune in both its region and department, Châlons-en-Champagne is the capital and prefecture of both.


For the ecclesiastical history, see Archbishopric of Reims
Saint Remigius, Bishop of Reims, begging of Clovis the restitution of the Sacred Vase taken by the Franks in the pillage of Soissons. — Costumes of the court of Burgundy in the fifteenth century. — Facsimile of a miniature in a manuscript of the History of the Emperors (Library of the Arsenal).

Before the Roman conquest of northern Gaul, Reims, founded circa 80 BC as Durocorter ("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 of Julius Caesar's conquest of Gaul (58-51 BC), the Remi allied themeselves with the Romans, and by their fidelity throughout the various Gallic insurrections secured the special favour of the imperial power.

Christianity had become established in the city by the middle of the 3rd century, at which period Saint Sixtus of Reims founded the Reims bishopric. The consul Jovinus, an influential supporter of the new faith, repelled the barbarians 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 the French 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. 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 at Ypres 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.



Streets and squares

The principal squares of Reims include the Place Royale, with a statue of Louis XV, and the Place Cardinal-Luçon, with an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc. The Rue de Vesle, the chief street (continued under other names), traverses the city from southwest to northwest, passing through the Place Royale.

The Place Drouet d'Erlon in the city centre contains many lively restaurants and bars, as well as several attractive statues and fountains. During the summer it fills with people sitting outside the many cafés enjoying the summer sun, and in December it has a lively and charming[citation needed] Christmas market.

Gallo-Roman antiquities

The oldest monument in Reims, the Porte de Mars ("Mars Gate", so called from a temple to Mars in the neighbourhood), a triumphal arch 108 feet in length by 43 in height, consists of three archways flanked by columns. Popular tradition tells that the Remi erected it in honour of Augustus when Agrippa made the great roads terminating at the city, but it probably belongs to the 3rd or 4th century. The Mars Gate was one of 4 Roman gates to the city walls, which were restored at the time of the Norman Invasion of northern France in the 9th century. In its vicinity a curious mosaic, measuring 36 feet by 26, with thirty-five medallions representing animals and gladiators, was discovered in 1860.

Note too the Gallo-Roman sarcophagus, allegedly that of the 4th-century consul Jovinus, preserved in the archaeological museum in the cloister of the abbey of Saint-Remi.

Cathedral of Notre-Dame de Reims

Many people know Reims for its cathedral, Notre-Dame de Reims, formerly the place of coronation of the kings of France. The cathedral became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991, along with the former Abbey of Saint-Remi and the Palace of Tau.

The Palace of Tau

The archiepiscopal palace, built between 1498 and 1509, and in part rebuilt in 1675, served as the residence of the kings of France on the occasion of their coronations. The salon (salle du Tau), where the royal banquet took place, has an immense stone chimney that dates from the fifteenth century. The chapel of the archiepiscopal palace consists of two storeys, of which the upper still (as of 2009) serves as a place of worship. Both the chapel and the salle du Tau have decorative tapestries of the 17th century, known as the Perpersack tapestries, after the Flemish weaver who executed them. The palace opened to the public in 1972 as a museum containing such exhibits as statues formerly displayed by the cathedral, treasures of the cathedral from past centuries, and royal attire from coronations of French kings.

Saint Remi Basilica

Façade of Basilica St. Remi

Saint Remi Basilica, an easy one-mile walk from the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Reims, takes its name from the 5th-century Saint Remi — revered as the patron saint of the inhabitants of Reims for more than 15 centuries. The basilica almost approaches the cathedral in size. Adjacent to the basilica stands an important abbey, formerly known as the Royal Abbey of St Remi. The abbey sought to trace its heritage back to St Remi, while the present abbey building dates back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Saint Remi Basilica dates from the 11th, 12th, 13th and 15th centuries. Most of the construction of the church finished in the 11th century, with additions made later. The nave and transepts, Romanesque in style, date mainly from the earliest, the façade of the south transept from the latest of those periods, the choir and apse chapels from the 12th and 13th centuries. The 17th and 19th centuries saw further additions. The building suffered greatly in World War I, and the meticulous restoration work of architect Henri Deneux rebuilt it from its ruins over the following 40 years. As of 2009 it remains the seat of an active Catholic parish holding regular worship services and welcoming pilgrims. It has been classified as an historical monument since 1841 and is one of the pinnacles of the history of art and of the history of France.

Several royal and archepiscopal figures lie buried in the basilica, but in unidentified graves. They include:

Inside of Basilica St. Remi

The public can visit the abbey building, now the Saint-Remi Museum. The abbey closed in the wake of the French Revolution (the government had all French monasteries dissolved in February, 1790). The museum exhibits include tapestries from the sixteenth century given by Robert de Lenoncourt (who died in 1532), marble capitals from the fourth century AD, furniture, jewellery, pottery, weapons and glasswork from the 6th to 8th century, medieval sculpture, the façade of the 13th-century Musicians' House, remnants from an earlier abbey building, and also exhibits of Gallo-Roman arts and crafts and a room of pottery, jewellery, and weapons from Gallic civilization, as well as an exhibit of items from the Palaeolithic to the Neolithic periods.

Another section of the museum features a permanent military exhibition.


In 1874 the construction of a chain of detached forts started in the vicinity, the French Army having selected Reims as one of the chief defences of the northern approaches of Paris. Atop the ridge of St Thierry stands a fort of the same name, which with the neighbouring work of Chenay closes the west side of the place. To the north the hill of Brimont has three works guarding the Laon railway and the Aisne canal. Farther east, on the old Roman road, stands the Fort de Fresnes. Due east the hills of Arnay are crowned with five large and important works which cover the approaches from the upper Aisne. Forts Pompelle and Montbré close the south-east side, and the Falaise hills on the Paris side are open and unguarded. The perimeter of the defences is not quite 22 miles, and the forts are a mean distance of 6 miles (10 km) from the centre of the city.

Other buildings

City hall (hôtel de ville)

The Church of St Jacques dates from the 13th to the 16th centuries. A few blocks from the cathedral, it stands as of 2009 in a neighborhood of shopping and restaurants. What remains of the Abbey of St. Denis has become a Fine Arts Museum. The old College of the Jesuits also survives as a museum. The churches of St Maurice (partly rebuilt in 1867), St André, and St Thomas (erected from 1847 to 1853, under the patronage of Cardinal Gousset, now buried within its walls) also draw tourists.

The Foujita chapel (1966), designed and decorated by the Japanese School of Paris artist Tsuguharu Foujita became famed for its frescos. It was designated as an historic monument in 1992.

The city hall (hôtel de ville), erected in the 17th century and enlarged in the 19th, features a pediment with an equestrian statue of Louis XIII (reigned 1610 to 1643).

The Surrender Museum stands on the spot where on 7 May 1945, General Eisenhower and the Allies received the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht.


Reims, along with Épernay and Ay, functions as one of the centers 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.


Between 1925 and 1969 Reims hosted the Grand Prix de la Marne automobile race at the circuit of Reims-Gueux. The French Grand Prix took place here 14 times between 1938 and 1966.

As of 2009 the football club Stade Reims, based in the city, competed in the Championnat National, the third-highest tier of French football. Stade Reims became the outstanding team of France in the 1950s and early 1960s and reached the final of the European Cup of Champions twice in that era.

Notable residents

Those born in Reims include:


Reims has twin-city links with:

See also


External links

Travel guide

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikitravel

Reims (sometimes spelled "Rheims" in English), a city in northern France, is perhaps best known for its cathedral, where generations of French kings were crowned.



Reims, the home of champagne (the most celebrated and celebrating 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.

Getting there

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

You might think you can get cheaper tickets if you travel on the regular train lines (you'll have to change trains in Épernay), but it will take over 2 hours and you might get a much better deal buying your TGV ticket a few weeks in advance.

Getting 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, I think, good value at €1 to go anywhere. If you intend to use them a lot, buy a carnet of 10 tickets for €8.60 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 for €3, which is 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 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

  • Cathedral (Notre-Dame de Reims) - 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.
  • The Palace of Tau was the archbishop's palace and retains a 13c Palatine chapel.
  • The Porte de Mars - a large late-Roman period triumphal arch
  • The Hotel de la Salle - a fine Renaissance mansion
  • The so-called Hotel des Contes de Champagne is a fine Gothic merchant's house.
  • The 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.
  • The many champagne houses and the chalk caves that are used to store and age the champagne. Most of the houses have several guided tours throughout the day in a variety of languages for a small fee, which usally 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. I have lived here eight months and I don't think one month has passed without a festival or carnival.

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, in eight months I've seen four classic rallies here.

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! 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.


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 equivilent of HMV) which sells CDs/ DVDs/ and Books, including English ones.

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, the best for food being the James Joyce, 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).

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!


Champagne of course !

There are 2 Irish bars (The Blackface and the James Joyce) and 1 English bar, The Gluepot, in the centre, the Place d'Erlon, but if you go to the far end, past the Opera cinema, turn right and head down the Rue de Vesle for 1/4 of a mile you come to Place de Stalingrad. There are two great places here, The Kilberry, an Irish pub 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.

If you are determined to hit the Palce d'Erlon, the 3 Brasseries is worth a look, it's a 3 bar micro brewery. The Gaulois on the far corner has a nice area to sit around allday. The drinks are reasonable, and they do excellent set menus. The Gin Pamp, opposite the Opera cinema is always packed and one of the better live music venues. If money is no object and style is imperative, try L'apostrophe, half way down the Place d'Erlon, it is not cheap but it is beautiful inside. If you really are on the budget trail, try the Hotel Victoria for the cheapest drink in the square. Abdel the night time waiter is Moroccan and speaks excellent English, and always has a cheery joke.

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.


Reasonably priced hotels off the Place d'Erlon include Grand Hotel du Nord and Hotel Cristal. Most of these hotels have a reasonably priced deal with the underground car park in Place d'Erlon, but remember to ask for a ticket at entrance to the car park and don't use your credit card, or you will end up paying twice.

The cheapest place to stay in the Place d'Erlon is the Hotel Victoria. It's family run by the Camus and has been since the war. Don't be put of by the gaudy placards outside, or the cramped bar/ reception, the rooms are large, clean, en-suite and all come with TV (French), an added advantage is free wi-fi in the bar/reception. The bar is also the cheapest place to drink in the Place d'Erlon.

If you're backpacking take a taxi from the station to C.I.S (pronounced CES) It's basic, communal kitchen and showers, but it's cheap and clean, but can get noisy if large groups are in. The bad news is it's non smoking and no booze is allowed in the place (officially!)

Get out

Fancy something different, there's a big balooning scene around here, so if you want more information contact the tourist office.

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Up to date as of January 15, 2010

Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary



Proper noun


  1. A city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France.

Derived terms


Simple English

Reims is a city in the northern part of France. About 200,000 people live in it. It is also a commune of the Marne department.

Reims Cathedral

Reims Cathedral (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims) is famous by coronation of almost every king of France. The cathedral was destroyed by fire in 1914 (after an attack by the German army).


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