Eighty miles east-northeast of Paris is the historic city of Reims. Founded before the birth of Christ by the Gauls, Reims later became an important city in the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Reims rose as a religious center. It’s famous cathedral was the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France, playing the same role in France as Westminster Abbey does in the United Kingdom.
The grand cathedral in Reims is the city’s most famous landmark. Heavily damaged in World War I, Reims Cathedral has since been rebuilt. Today, together with the former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims’ Cathedral of Notre-Dame is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. About one million visitors a year see Reims Cathedral.
For those not interested in the old buildings and tales of times gone by, there’s another good reason to visit Reims—sparkling wine. Reims is the largest city in the Champagne region. It sits at the edge of an extended viticultural area. Beneath Reims is a labyrinth of caves and tunnels left from centuries of chalk mining. These caves are ideal places to age Champagne during its production. As a result, Reims has become a major center of champagne production. Numerous large champagne houses have their headquarters in the city; many are open for tasting and tours.
We stayed several nights in Reims. In truth, we could have stayed longer. The city is deep in history. There is a lot to see and do. And there’s a lot of Champagne to be sampled.