Fun things to do in Reims

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Most Viewed Things to Do in Reims

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    Halles du Boulingrin

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 16, 2014

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    This covered market hall was built in the 1920s – a remarkable building with a huge vaulted ceiling made of reinforced concrete.

    For six decades the hall was used as a retail and wholesale food market for six decades until it was closed for safety reasons in 1988.

    Eventually the hall was classified as a historic monument and was preserved and restored. This was a complicated task because they wanted to preserve the appearance and function of the hall while bringing it up to modern standards of safety and accessibility.

    After completion of the restoration work, the hall was reopened in September 2012. Markets are now held in the hall on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday mornings. (I took my photos on a Saturday.)

    Fifth photo: This organ grinder man was providing music outside the market, using an authentic historic mechanical organ. These used to be very common but now are rarely seen except in museums. (See my page on the Mechanical Instrument Museum in Bruchsal, Germany.)

    Address: 50 rue de Mars, 51100 REIMS
    Directions: Tram stop "Boulingrin".
    Location and photo of the Market Hall on monumentum.fr
    Website: http://www.architecte-chatillon.com/site/en/project-halles-centrales-du-boulingrin-reims/

    Next: The Surrender Museum

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    A talk by Francis Albou

    by Nemorino Written Jan 12, 2014

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    When I was in Reims I had the great pleasure of attending a talk by Francis Albou about the second act of the opera Don Giovanni by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

    The lecture was held at the Conservatory, not the opera house, but it’s a good thing I asked at the opera house first because otherwise I wouldn’t have gotten in. Admission to these talks is free, but they advise making a reservation. This talk was already fully booked when I arrived, but the lady at the opera box office (who later turned out to be Madame Albou, the lecturer’s wife) said that since I had come all this way she would see if she could get me in anyway. So she made a quick phone call, told me how to get to the Conservatory and said I should just mention my name at the entrance and they would let me in.

    I often go to lectures in France but don’t always understand every word. In this case I did, because he spoke clearly and gave a well-structured talk. Of course it helped that Mozart’s Don Giovanni is an opera that I know very well because I have seen many times in Frankfurt, Paris and Mannheim, among other places.

    Second photo: Francis Albou before his talk.

    Third photo: This is the smaller of the two lecture halls at the Conservatory. It has excellent acoustics and is often used for concerts and recitals. The seating area is steeply rising, as in many university lecture halls, so that everyone has a good view. The back entrance to the hall is on the ground floor of the building and the front entrance is in the basement.

    Fourth photo: People leaving after the lecture.

    Fifth photo: After the talk I introduced myself to M. Albou and congratulated him on his excellent presentation. He gave me this flyer on his next lecture, about the opera Der Kaiser von Atlantis (The Emperor of Atlantis) by Viktor Ullmann (1898-1944). Unfortunately I had to tell him I would be nowhere near Reims on the day of his lecture, but I said I knew Ullmann’s opera because I had seen it several times in Frankfurt in 2004.

    As I have mentioned in my Frankfurt tip Operas at the Bockenheimer Depot, Der Kaiser von Atlantis is an opera that Viktor Ullmann wrote in the 1940s when he was imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. He was even allowed to rehearse it with imprisoned musicians and singers, but after the dress rehearsal the Nazis banned it because they finally realized that it had a strong anti-war and anti-Nazi message. Ullmann and his librettist Peter Kien were immediately shipped off to Auschwitz, where they were murdered in 1944. One of Ullmann's fellow prisoners buried the score and the text of the opera. Years later it was dug up, and was first performed in Amsterdam in 1975.

    Address of the Reims Conservatory: 20 rue Gambetta - 51100 REIMS
    Directions: 600 meters (seven blocks) south of the opera house. Just follow Rue Chanzy and then Rue Gambetta, which is the same street under a different name.
    Route on Google Maps
    Phone: 03 26 35 61 35
    Website: http://www.crr-reims.fr/


    Next: The Reims Opera House

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    The Reims Opera House

    by Nemorino Written Jan 12, 2014

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    The Reims Opera House was originally called the Grand Théâtre when it was first built in 1873. It was severely damaged in World War I. After several years delay it was rebuilt by two architects named François Maille and Louis Sollier, who kept the original façade but redesigned the interior in the Art Deco style which was popular at the time.

    Like most ‘provincial’ French opera houses (‘provincial’ meaning ‘not in Paris’), the Opéra de Reims only stages one opera per month and only does a few performances, so you have to plan your visit accordingly.

    Second photo: The opera house at night.

    Third photo: Decorations on the façade.

    Fourth photo: The names above the windows in this photo are of one composer and three playwrights: Auber, Corneille, Molière and Racine. Daniel-François-Esprit Auber (1782-1871) composed over forty operas which were very popular at the time, but are seldom if ever performed today. (I’ve never seen one, in any case.) But Auber’s name is still well known in Paris because the street that bears his name is now the site of a large Métro and RER station. Corneille, Molière and Racine were leading seventeenth century playwrights, during the reign of Louis XIV.

    Fifth photo: These bas-reliefs in the Reims opera house look very much like the ones made by Antoine Bourdelle for the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris, but in fact the ones in Reims were made by Marcelle Sollier, the sister of one of the architects who rebuilt the theater after the First World War.

    Old postcards on carthalia

    Address: 1, rue de Vesle - 51100 Reims
    Directions: Corner of rue de Vesle and rue Chanzy. Tram stop Opéra. Location on Google Maps
    Phone: 03 26 500 392
    Website: http://www.operadereims.com/

    Next: Auditorium of the Reims Opera

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    Auditorium of the Reims Opera

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 12, 2014

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    The interior decoration of the Reims Opera was inspired by the art-déco style of the early twentieth century, but the recently added abstract shapes on the back walls also serve to improve the acoustics of the hall.

    The auditorium in the shape of a horseshoe is typical, according to the theater’s website, of the ‘Italian Style’ theaters that were built so often in the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries as the “incarnation of a compartmentalized and hierarchically organized society”.

    To improve visibility, the stage was recently rebuilt with an inclination of 4 %, corresponding to the inclination of the main floor of the auditorium. Somewhere upstairs there is a rehearsal stage which also has an inclination of 4 %, so the singers, actors and dancers can become accustomed to it from the beginning of rehearsals.

    Second, third and fourth photos: More views of the auditorium.

    Fifth photo: The foyer of the Reims Opera is unusually austere, especially in comparison with the flamboyant foyer of the Lille Opera, where I had been the week before.

    Address: 1, rue de Vesle - 51100 Reims
    Directions: Location on Bing Maps
    Phone: 03 26 500 392

    Next: Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo

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    Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 12, 2014

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    Claudio Monteverdi was born in Cremona, Italy, in 1567. During his long career he composed numerous madrigals and at least eighteen operas, most of which have been lost.

    His earliest surviving opera is L’Orfeo from the year 1607. I have seen L’Orfeo in three very different productions, one in Darmstadt in 2005, the second in Frankfurt am Main in 2005/2007 and the third in Reims in 2013.

    The one in Reims was a production of the European Baroque Academy in Ambronay. With one exception, the singers and musicians were all under thirty-one and were participants in the 2013 academy. The one exception was the Portuguese tenor Fernando Guimarães, who sang the title role of Orpheus. He took part in the academy in 2009 and is now a professional opera singer.

    In my first photo the singers are taking their bows after the performance. The lady in the red dress on the far left is the mezzo-soprano Claire Bournes, who sang Prosperine, the wife of Pluto (that’s Pluto the King of the Underworld, not Pluto the dog).

    Next to her is the tenor Riccardo Pisani, who came in at the end for a few minutes as Apollo (originally the Good Guy God, but in this production just another mean trick played on Orpheus by the Evil Spirits of the Underworld).

    The barefoot lady in the white dress is Reut Ventorero, who sang Eurydice, the girl who dies from a snake bite on her wedding day (I’m sure I don’t have to tell you what the snake symbolizes; the same as in Mozart’s Così fan tutte).

    The guy in the white shirt next to her is Fernando Guimarães, who sang Orpheus.

    The man in the center of the first row is the orchestra conductor Leonardo García Alarcón, who is also the musical director of the European Baroque Academy in Ambronay.

    The lady in the black dress holding the flowers is Francesca Aspromonte, who sang the allegorical figure of La Musica at the beginning of the opera. Next to her is Angelica Monje Torrez as La Messaggiera, followed by Yannis François as Pluto and Iosu Yeregui as Charon.

    The folks in the second row are the four dancers and fifteen chorus members, but I can’t identify them by name. (Except that the lady in the black dress behind the conductor is probably the Italian soprano Claudia Conese.)

    I liked this production so much that I went and saw it again the next day. Madame Albou was again working in the box office and sold me a great ticket for first row center of the second balcony, right next to her husband.

    Second photo: The program booklet for L’Orfeo at the Reims Opera was quite thin, only eight pages, but it was quite informative and it was free, so everybody got one.

    Third photo: The orchestra consisted of thirty young musicians who had been selected from all over Europe for this project. All of them have had training in Baroque music, and some were playing authentic Baroque instruments.

    Fourth photo: Two posters on the door of the Reims Opera. The photo on the L’Orfeo poster shows the joyful wedding of Orpheus and Euridice, when the stage was filled with colorful balloons. Then the messenger came with the news that Euridice was dead, killed by a snake bite. Almost immediately the colorful balloons were gone and the stage was full of black balloons. The first time I saw the opera I was amazed by this sudden transformation, but the second time I paid more attention to how they did it and found that the black balloons had been there all the time, I just hadn’t noticed them until the colored balloons were taken away.

    Website: http://www.operadereims.com/

    In addition to L’Orfeo, I have also seen the other three surviving Monteverdi operas in excellent productions:
    • Il combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda, Venice 1624, staged as “Combattimenti” by David Hermann in Frankfurt in 2006 along with some shorter pieces by Monteverdi. Especially memorable in this production was the “Dance of the ungrateful women”, featuring Juanita Lascarro as Amore and Katharina Magiera as Venere.
    • Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria (The Return of Ulysses to Ithaca), Venice 1640, staged by David Hermann in Frankfurt in 2007.
    • L’incoronazione di Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea), Venice 1642, staged by Jossi Wieler and Sergio Morabito in Stuttgart 1999 and by Rosamund Gilmore in Frankfurt 2000.

    Address of the Opéra de Reims: 1, rue de Vesle - 51100 Reims
    Directions: Location on OpenStreetMap
    Phone: 03 26 500 392

    Next: Cinéma Opéra

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    Foujita's chapel

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 12, 2014

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    Continuing on my walk around the block from my hotel, or rather my Résidence Hôtelière, I soon came upon the Chapelle Notre Dame de la Paix (Chapel of Our Lady of Peace), popularly known as Foujita's chapel.

    Tsuguharu Foujita (1886-1968) was a Japanese artist whom I had never even heard of, I don’t think, until I took a guided walking tour of the Montparnasse district of Paris in May 2013. One of the stops on our tour was Foujita’s atelier at 5, rue Delambre. Around 1920 Foujita was a prominent member of the wild artistic scene in Montparnasse, which included such artists as Picasso and Matisse and the sculptor Ossip Zadkine. Foujita became famous and wealthy as a painter of beautiful women and cats.

    Fast forward to October 14, 1959. Foujita, now 72 years old, renounces his old philandering lifestyle, converts to Roman Catholicism and is baptized in Reims Cathedral, with the head of the Mumm Champagne Company serving as his godfather.

    Later he and his godfather decide to build a small chapel on the grounds of the Mumm company. Foujita at age 80 spends several months painting the inner walls of the chapel with elaborate religious frescos, his last major work of art.

    My ticket for the Reims Fine Arts Museum was also valid for the Foujita Chapel, so I went in and had a look. I found the frescos rather impressive, in a religious sort of way, but no photos were allowed so I can’t show you what they look like.

    Address: 33 rue du Champ de Mars, 51100 Reims
    Directions: Take bus # 7 to the stop called Foujita.
    Location and photo on monumentum.fr
    Phone: +33 – 03 26 40 06 96
    Website: http://www.foujita.org/

    Next: Aux Bons Amis

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    Square of the Victims of the Gestapo

    by Nemorino Updated Jan 12, 2014

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    When the Nazis occupied Reims at the beginning of the Second World War, they requisitioned a large centrally located private house for use as the headquarters of the Gestapo. Here numerous prisoners were interrogated, tortured and killed or deported.

    After the war the house stood empty for many years before it was finally demolished in 1986. In its place, this memorial square was established, with numerous commemorative plaques along the walls.

    Second and third photos: This broken cross with its bas reliefs was created by the contemporary French sculptor Patrice Alexandre.

    Address: 18 rue Jeanne d'Arc, 51100 Reims
    Directions: Location on Google Maps
    Website: http://www.cndp.fr/crdp-reims/memoire/lieux/2GM_CA/plaques/square_souvenir.htm

    Next: Reims à toutes jambes

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    A WALK ALONG THE BOULEVARD

    by Orkaena Updated Jul 29, 2013

    The name is "Place Drouet d'Erlon", but for me it is a wide and short boulevard.
    The fact is that a walk along this short boulevard, three blocks, becomes in a pleasant experience, even you can go ahead beyond the end of it and still walking along the Rue Theodore Dubois in your way to the cathedral, and believe me when I tell you that is nice enough.
    The boulevard in itself starts at the square Colbert, in front of the TGV railway station, and is a pedestrian boulevard plenty of shop, pubs, restaurants, cinema, and everything you can imagine, all arranged with the proverbial French good taste.
    Walk, use thos legs you have, and take your time, stop for a coffe, or a beer, watch, observe, breath, and still walking. This city well worth the effort.

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    Le musée de la Reddition (Museum of the Surrender)

    by rexvaughan Written Mar 1, 2013

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    This is a small and simple but very powerful museum portraying one of the most historic events of the 20th Century . It was General Eisenhower’s headquarters at the end of WWII and it was in the conference room lined with battle maps that General Jodl unconditionally surrendered on May 7, 1945. World War II was finally over! There is a very good, short film that is worth seeing and a good number of photographs, newspaper articles, etc. in the rooms. The map rooms are just as they were then and the chairs around the table are labeled.
    For reasons of protocol that I don’t fully understand, but sense they were correct, General Eisenhower was not at the signing, but handed the reins over to his chief of staff, General Walter Bedell Smith.
    Interestingly, the headquarters was in one end of a school. The rest of the building is still a school now named, interestingly enough, Lycee Roosevelt, but still has a sign above the main entrance saying, Lycee Roosevelt.

    There are a number of photos in the museum which are worth a look. I have inclluded one of the signing and one of General Eisenhower and Chief Deputy Commander of SHEAF, Arthur Tedder. I think the photo was taken right after the signing when Eisenhower was broadcasting the news.

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    Reims Museum of Fine Art

    by aquatic Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    You will, probably need only a couple of hours to walk through the museum. It is not big, but it is nessecary for those who like art.
    First I discovered works of the grandson of the Karl Marx here. Look for them in modern art section. Also there is a wonderful work of art made out of bird egg shell pieces...
    There is "The death of Marat" by David. A lot of works by Camille Corot.

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    MUSéE AUTOMOBILE INFO..... 2

    by eden_teuling Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    In this picture from the brochure you see HOTCHKISS 411 COACH 1933.....isn't it a beauty?

    In a second hall you can walk around, mouthwatering, looking at Alcyon, Peugeot, Monet-Goyon, Motobécane, BSA, DKW, Harley-Davidson MODELS and more........as e.g. the first SOLEX and bikes dating back from the start of the 20th Century.

    The Museum was created in 1985 by Philippe Charbonneaux.

    The collections are renovated at certain times.....they are working there like busy bees.....they want more and better just to please us THE VISITORS.

    OPEN: daily except on Tuesdays from 10AM till noon and from 2PM till 6PM

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    Médiathèque Jean Falala

    by MM212 Updated Dec 6, 2010

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    This shockingly modern glass cube, completed in 2002 by the architect, Jean-Paul Viguier, is an annex to the public library that focuses on media and culture. It is located in the heart of Reims, right across from the Notre Dame Cathedral, and was thus originally called Médiathèque Cathédrale. In 2007, it was renamed Médiathèque Jean Falala, after the former mayor of Reims who died in 2006. The sleek look of the building is definitely a contrast to the centuries old cathedral and surrounding buildings, but both the reflection of the Cathedral on the glass of the building and the view from within are simply stunning...

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    Bibliothèque Carnegie

    by MM212 Written Dec 6, 2010

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    Completed in 1928, la Bibliothèque Carnegie is stunning example of Art Déco architecture. It was designed by Max Sainsaulieu and funded by the foundation of Andrew Carnegie, the Scottish-American philanthropist, soon after WWI destruction necessitated a major rebuilding of the city, hence the name of the library.

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    Ancien Collège des Jésuites

    by MM212 Updated Dec 5, 2010

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    Originally built as a Benedictine monastery in the 12th century, this complex was purchased by the Jesuits in 1616 soon after King Henri IV granted them permission to found a college in Reims. The Jesuits subsequently enlarged and modified the complex to the form we see today. When the order was suppressed in 1762, the complex was turned into a hospital. Nowadays, l'Ancien Collège des Jésuites is partly occupied by a multi-functional cultural centre with a planetarium, and the rest is used by SciencesPo as a university campus . Some of the historic treasures within are open to visitors.

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    Eglise Saint-Maurice

    by MM212 Updated Dec 5, 2010

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    Soon after the Jesuits obtained permission to establish a college in Reims in 1606, they purchased an ancient Benedictine monastery and its associated 12th century church, Église Saint-Maurice. In 1620, parts of the interior of the church were remodelled, but the rest remained the same Romanesque-style until the 19th century. Between 1867 and 1876, the façade and nave of Église Saint-Maurice were entirely rebuilt in a Renaissance revival style, more common among Jesuit churches, thus completely erasing any surviving Romanesque details. The niches in the façade of the church contain statues of Saints Maurice and Martin.

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