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Reims, France: Reims Cathedral (Cathedral of Our Lady of Reims)

About Reims, France:

The city of Reims has an interesting history.  One of the most notable events occurred there in the year 498 when Clovis, King of the Franks, was baptized, making him the West’s first Catholic ruler.   This important event also made Reims the chosen city for crowning French kings, and a total of 33 kings were crowned there in what became known as the “Coronation City”.

During the First World War, 80% of the city was destroyed and many of the city’s inhabitants took shelter in the champagne cellars.  Schools and hospitals were set up and a sort of underground life developed there.  Concerts were given and even an opera was performed.

The unconditional surrender of the German Third Reich was signed on May 7, 1945, at Supreme Headquarters, Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) here in Reims.  The building where the surrender was signed was (and still is) a school and it even has has a small museum.

About the Cathedral of Reims:

State of Joan of Arc at entrance to Reims CathedralThis Gothic Cathedral is recognized as one of the greatest examples of Gothic architecture in France, and that is saying something!  It is renowned for its architecture (one of the largest in France) and for its statuary….over 2,000 statues!

In addition, the baptismal font used to baptize Clovis can still be found in the Cathedral.

As mentioned above, it became the place for the crowning of all the Kings of France.  One of those crowned here was on July 17, 1429….. that of the Dauphin, Charles II which took place on July 17, 1429 at the insistence of Joan of Arc.  Every year, this event is celebrated during the Joan Festival.  You will find a statue of Joan of Arc on horseback outside the Cathedral.

In 1924, John D. Rockefeller made a donation for the restoration of the Cathedral that involved repairing the roof and restoring the Angel bell tower. The Cathedral was rebuilt identically to the original design, including the unfinished bell tower and the ridge crest of the roof.

The roof had originally been decorated with alternating shamrocks and fleurs-de-lis, but was destroyed during the French Revolution.  The restoration work was completed by 1938.

The Cathedral retains some of its stained glass windows and also some newer ones. Artist Marc Chagall created three beautiful stained glass panels in the mid 1970s. These windows are in the apse of the cathedral, behind the main altar.

Finding the Reims Cathedral:

The city of Reims is northeast of Paris, and can be a day trip if you choose one of the TGV trains that cover the distance in about 45 minutes.  Regular trains take about one hour and thirty minutes, so it can still work for you if you’re visiting Paris and want to make Reims a day trip.  There are actually two train stations here:  Reims Ville (sometimes also called Reims Gare Centre), which is right in the city center. Additionally, there is a second train station located about 5 miles from the city center called Champagne-Ardenne, which is also serviced by TGV trains.

The Cathedral dominates the town, so you won’t miss it.

Address: Pl. du Cardinal Luçon, 51100 Reims, France

Click here for the official website of the Cathedral of Reims. (Note: this is not a secure website)

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