Do you like champagne ? As...
Do you like champagne ? As for me, gathering with my friends I prefer to drink beer. But that preference was not a strong reason to refuse from the visit to the capital of French province Champagne – Reims. We spent very few hours in the city, but it was enough to have an interesting excursion to the Notre Dame de Reims, to view champagne collections in the local shops and to buy good presents for friends.
If you are overwhemed by historical buildings, have a stroll around the center town. While there are not so many old houses left (WWI destroyed 80% of the city) - there are still some medieval and renaissance ones standing.
The photo has bee taken along place du forum
Basilique Saint Rémi
Maybe my favourite church in Reims.
While less impressive than the cathedral, the basilique Saint Rémi is a superb example of gothic over roman style.
The outside, too many times renovated (sometimes clumsily) is far from perfect but the result inside is incredibly serene.
Saint Remi, the Reims' Bishop (from 460 to 532) who baptized Clovis, died towards 533 aged 96.
He was buried outside the city, in an oratory dedicated to saint Christophe. His reputation of holiness and the repeated miracles soon attracted many pilgrims.
The oratory was soon transformed into a chuch where St Remi's body was transferred and still is (in a rather modern monument).
Towards 750-760, the archbishop Tilpin invited Benedictine monks come from saint Denis to accomodate and guide the pilgrims.
In 1007, the abbot of Saint Remi, Airard started the current building, wich was consecrated by the pope Leon IX in 1049 (on October 1, saint Remi's day).
The monastic complex was modified at the beginning of XIIth century : creation of the abbaye (now musee saint Rémi), introduction of gothic elements in the church.
The chorus was rebuilt between 1170 and 1180, as well as the western part (preserving however the Roman towers).
In 1505, the archbishop of Rheims, decided to rebuild the southern frontage.
In 1602, the pinion of the transept was rebuilt after collapsing.
The church was classified historical building in 1840 and UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991.
open 7/4 from 8h to 18h (until nightfall in winter)
I have been to the Mumm Champagne Caves twice and enjoyed it both times. There is a tour and explanation of the champagne making process and at the end of it you get to taste some champagne. They also have a good selection on champagne - some of which is only available in the town.
Mumm are the only champagne producers in the town that give tours. There is a charge - I think around 30 francs but it is interesting if you have never done that sort of thing.
I must say the Mumm tour was very good. Much better than the slick tour of Laurent-Perrier.
Mind you, if you go off the beaten path, it's sometimes best to make an appointment with the champagne house, as they are working businesses. If you do rent a car, you could simply take a wine guide (book) or drop in wherever you see a sign 'dégustation'.
Local tourist offices will have special packages. Book locally, it's cheaper than via online agencies.
Reims Tourist Office: http://www.reims-tourism.com/
Tour offer (19.50 euro).
You can also order brochures from this website, by post. Or e-mail them for specific wishes.
The tourist office in Reims is located on the left side of the Cathedral (if you face the main entrance).