Reims and its cathedral and basilica

Reims is a city in France’s Champagne-Ardenne region. It was founded by the Gauls, but its 3rd-century Porte de Mars triumphal arch marks its later Roman conquest. It’s the unofficial capital of the Champagne wine-growing region, and many of the houses headquartered there offer tastings and cellar tours. For more than 1,000 years, French kings were crowned at its Cathédrale Notre Dame (wikipedia).


This gothic cathedral is where, over the course of a millenium (816 to 1825), among them, two dozen kings, were crowned and began their reigns.

After henry V, King of England defeated Charles VI’s army, Reims along with most of northern France fell to the English. The English held the cathedral until 1429 when it was liberated by Joan of Arc. For the rest of the story, and list of kings coronation, perhaps you can just check out wikipedia or other sites.

Adorned with over 2,300 statues, this is the only cathedral to display angels with open wings, including the famous Smiling Angel on the western façade of the north portal. The exceptional stained-glass windows mix styles from the Middle Ages until the 20th century. Not to be missed is the absolutely unique reverse side of the façade – which is as wide as the nave -and the kings’ gallery with its magnificent statues.

I went there in the middle hot summer day in July, just to see the great Cathedral Notre Dame in half façade renovation, so it covers half of the front sculptures, too bad! But somehow, the Palace of Tau, next to it, keeps the history in tact. This place was the residence of the bishops and some historical pieces from the coronation (the tapestry, the robes….)

Despite my high admiration to this cathedral, when I got to Basilica Saint Rémi…it was even more spectacular to my eyes. Dated older than the cathedral, in the roman era, the basilica Saint Rémi houses the relics of Saint Rémi, the bishop who baptized Clovis (french King) in 498. The present basilica was the old abbey, that was where the king coronation took place.


When I got in, and had a breathtaking view of the great chandelier (none like the opéra Garnier has though), breathing the great hall, and said my prayers, and suddenly the orgel played. Grandiose.

The Cathedral Notre Dame de Reims, Palace de Tau, and Basilica Saint Rémi, were included in UNESCO World Heritage site in 1991.

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