Reims Visitor information
Reims is a city in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France with an unusual buzz, and lies around 130km north east of the French capital of Paris. The city was flattened by the shells of the First World War, and was rebuilt with an Art Nouveau and Art Deco style. The city centre is easy to walk around, and beneath it lie miles and miles of bottles of fermenting champagne.
The old city centre clusters around one of the most impressive Gothic cathedrals in France, formerly the coronation church of dynasties of French monarchs going back to Clovis, the first king of the Franks, later depicted obsessively by Monet. In the northern part of the old town was protected by a Roman arch, the Porte de Mars, which can be reached by the grand squares of the place Royale, place du Forum and Place de l’Hôtel-de-Ville. These attractions, along with several others, mean that the city is well worth a stopover.
There are two main railway stations: Gare de Reims in the city centre, the hub for regional transport, and the new Gare de Champagne-Ardenne TGV 5 kilometres southwest of the city with high-speed rail connections to Paris, Metz, Nancy and Strasbourg.
Conflict in World War I greatly damaged the city. German attack and a subsequent fire in 1914 did severe damage to the cathedral. The ruined cathedral became one of the main images of anti-German propaganda produced in France during the war, which presented it, along with the ruins of the Cloth Hall at Ypres and the University Library in Louvain, as evidence that German aggression targeted cultural landmarks of European civilization.
During the Second World War, the city suffered additional damage, but on the morning of 7th May 1945, General Eisenhower and the Allies received the unconditional surrender of the German Wehrmacht.