Rheims is a city that lies eighty miles northeast of Paris in the Champagne region of France. This city covers an area of eighteen square miles and has a population of almost one hundred and ninety thousand residents. Prior to the Roman invasion of the northern portion of Gaul, Rheims, was the capital of the Remi Tribe, around the nine century BC. When Julius Caesar conquered Gaul around the sixth century BC, the Remi aligned themselves with the Romans against the barbarian hourdes, and as a result granted the imperial favor of Rome. By the third century, Christianity was adopted by the town and St. Sixtus of Reims established the Rheims bishopric. Rheims repelled the Visigoth hourdes during the fourth century, but Atilla the Hun would invade the city in the mid fifth century.
Around the tenth century Rheims would move on to become a center of intellectualism. Archbishop Adalberon erected schools which featured the liberal arts as their core curriculum. In he twelfth century, Louis VII bestowed Rheims a communal charter. During the fifteenth century, the Treaty of Troyes ceded it to the English government. During the nineteenth century, anti Napoleonic armies would capture the town several times and when the Germans prevailed during the Franco-Prussian War, they made it the seat of their governor. During World War I, Rheims was severely damaged by German bombing. Between World War I and World War II, Rheims slowly began rebuilding its infrastructure, but when World War II broke out, the city was once again damaged. After the war, General Eisenhower received the surrender of the German Wehrmact on May 7.
Over the years, the city of Rheims has been the birthplace of many notable and famous people. Some of the more prominent residents from the city include Nicolas de Grigny, Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Paul de Dinechin, Jean-Baptiste de la Salle, Adolphe d’Archiac, Maurice Halbwachs, Patrick Poivre d’Arvor, Robert Pires, Adeline Wuilleme, Roger Caillois, Paul Fort, Eugene Courmeaux, Jean Baudrillard, Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Nicolas Eugene Geruzez and Henri Marteau. Rheims is also a city that is known as one of the main hubs of champagne production. Some of the biggest champagne producing companies have their headquarters in the city. Many champagne companies use the maze of caves that exist underneath the city to age their product. These caves go back thousands of years to the Roman Empire. Rheims is also a city that is known for its historical heritage and many attractions that prompt millions of visitors each year to visit.
A popular attraction in the city, and one that attracts over five hundred thousand tourist a year, is the Notre-Dame de Reims, known as Our Lady of Rheims in English. This is a Roman Catholic cathedral that was the location where many French kings were crowned. It was built to replace an older church that was destroyed by fire in the early thirteenth century. Notre-Dame de Reims was completed towards the end of the thirteenth century, all except the western front which was built in the fourteenth century. The fourteenth century constructions kept faithful to the previous designs, and the unity of the church’s style is a testament to that fact. During this time, the nave was lengthened to accommade large crowds. The church features two towers which rise over two hundred and sixty feet high. The southern tower holds two large bells. One of the bells weighs over eleven tons and is nicknamed “Charlotte:”. During the end of the nineteenth century, the French National Assembly appropriated over eighty thousand sterling pounds for repairs of the facade and balustrades. The cathedral was heavily damaged during World War I by German artilliary fire. This resulted in a fire that damaged the wood parts of the cathedral and caused the melting of the lead roof, which in turn destroyed the bishop’s palace. After the war, an ambitious restoration took place on the cathedral and it was reopened in 1938. The exterior of the cathedral features three portals that contain many sculptured figures. The middle portal is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and contains a rose window that is decorated heavily with statues. The interior of the church is about four hundred and fifty-five feet long, ninety-eight feet wide and one hundred and twenty-five feet high. It consist of a nave, transepts, a choir and an apse with chapels. It also has stained glass windows that were created in the thirteenth through twentieth centuries.
Located just over a mile from Notre-Dame de Rheims is Saint Remi Basilica, named after the patron saint of Rheims, St.Remi. This basilica is almost the size of Notre Dame de Rheims and was constructed during the eleventh through fifteenth centuries, with most of the construction being completed during the eleventh century. This basilica is also the final resting place for many royal figures, though they are buried in unmarked graves. The most prominent of these include Louis IV, Carloman King of the Franks, Henri d’Orleans, Queen Frederonne, Lothair I and Gerberga of Saxony. Inside the basilica is the St. Remi Museum. This museum features tapestries from the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, furniture, weapons, glasswork and jewelry. Another part of the museum is a military exhibition.
Other prominent and popular attractions in the city of Rheims include Maison de Pommery, Musee des Beaux-Arts, Palais du Tau, Salle de Reddition, Taittinger, Porte de Mars, Fort de Fresnes, Chateau de Conde, Reims-Gueux, Foujita chapel, Mumm and Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin. The city of Rheims is also home to numerous restaurants, cafes and hotels. Prominent restaurants and cafes in the city include Le Foch Restaurant, Le Millenaire, Version Originale, Le Chateau Des Crayeres, La Vigneraie restaurant d’affaires and the Brasserie Flo Reims. Prominent hotels in the city of Rheims include the Grand Hotel Continental, Hotel Kyriad Reims Centre, Hotel des Arcades, Hotel Ibis Reims Centre, Grand Hotel Templiers, Hotel Porte Mars and the Hotel De La Paix. The city a beautiful place to visit or spend a weekend at.