The Notre-Dame Cathedral of Reims, about two hours from Paris, is one of France’s great Gothic masterpieces. The cathedral building was started in 1211 and for many years it was the main cathedral of Northern France, where the French kings were crowned. The Reims Cathedral is a great day trip from Paris or its location in the Champagne region of France, which makes it a good stop during a tour of this area.
History of Reims The building and surrounding complex were built as a representation of Jerusalem for the Middle Age worshipers and it continues to stun visitors today. Inside the cathedral, the ornate ceiling is over 100 feet above the floor and the interior space, over 100 feet wide, is inspiring. It still boggles the mind how craftsmen created this masterpiece over 800 years ago with the knowledge and tools they had to work with.
Don’t miss The stained glass windows are spectacular and they are a combination of ancient windows from the medieval period, to modern works of art designed by Marc Chagall and an artist named Brigitte Simon. The windows and the colors they display are my favorite part of the cathedral. These were the Imax movies of their day, designed to impress and educate worshipers about the bible and religious messages. Over 2,000 statues fill both the interior and exterior, meant to tell stories to the illiterate masses. Each has a story behind it, a good guide here is essential to explain the significance and relation to the cathedral.
Dining Reims has many fine restaurants and this entire region of France is filled with fantastic places to eat. We had a wonderful meal at the very French Version Originale, in the center of Reims. A set three-course menu is $54 per person and worth every penny.
Champagne This region of France is called Champagne and only vintages bottled here can be called champagne, anything else is just sparkling wine. All the large champagne houses in Reims have cellar tours and tasting rooms. Tattinger and Mumm are particularly worth visiting and both have formal tours and tastings in elegant settings.
Getting there Reims is reachable by train in only 45 minutes by the TGV, France’s high speed rail line. Tickets are about $50 roundtrip and available online from SNCF, the state rail company. Reims is also on a main motorway in France and easy to reach by car.
More from this contributor:
Visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Rouen, France
A Visit to the Cathedral of Rennes
Chartres, France: Our Visit to the Historic Cathedral