The small city of Reims is located 150 kilometers northeast of Paris, in the province of Champagne. The population of Reims is in a range 200 thousand inhabitants. The capital of the province of Champagne is another city – Chalon-de-Champagne, but Reims is its most famous city.
The “Champagne Road” begins in Reims. About 300 wine houses produce the world-famous sparkling wine Champagne. Reims is also very important for the history of France. Here is the Gothic Cathedral where French kings were crowned for eight centuries.
The Champagne region is the northernmost of the French wine regions. The vineyards are located on the chalk slopes of the hills in the valley of the Marne river. The southern slopes turned out to be an ideal place for growing grapes, which is necessary for the production of sparkling wine. In 650, the Abbey of Oville was founded on the banks of the river Marne. In 1668, the monk Dom Pierre Perignon came here. The abbot invited him to develop its winery. He experimented a lot and eventually developed a technology for fermentation of sparkling wine, which was later called Champagne.
Finally, the technology of champagne production was formed a century later, as the champagne of Dom Perignon did not have enough aging. In the valley of the Marne river, the ancient Romans were actively mining chalk rocks. There were many mines here. In 1729, Nicolas Ruinart, the nephew of a Benedictine Abbey monk, came up with the idea of using these mines for secondary fermentation and aging of champagne. The depth and constant temperature of the shaft created the necessary conditions to prevent the bottle from exploding due to internal pressure. At the same time, there should be remained gases inherent of Champagne wine.
The two capitals where most of the wine houses of the Champagne province are located are Reims and the small city of Epernay. If you are going to Reims, the gastronomic program of your tour should be carefully worked out. In Reims you can visit the famous wine houses: Pommery, Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Ruinart, Taittinger, Mumm, Drappier. Equally, well-known champagne houses are located in Epernay: Moet&Chandon, Mercier, Castellane and others. These two cities are the main ones on the famous "Champagne Tourist road" (Routes touristique du Champagne). It stretches for hundreds of kilometers. On its way, there are more than two hundred villages that either grow grapes or make champagne wine.
The main historical landmark of Reims is the Cathedral of the North-Dame de Reims. It is located on the site where in 496 king Clovis I, who united the scattered tribes of the Franks into a single state, adopted Christianity. These two events are of exceptional importance to the French state, so since 1027, all the kings of France have been crowned in the Cathedral of Reims. The last French monarch, Charles X, was crowned here in 1825. Reims Cathedral is the largest in France and is recognized as one of the peaks of the Gothic style of architecture.
Reims is also home to the Basilica of Saint Remigius. This Shrine attracts thousands of pilgrims. Saint Remigius was Archbishop of Reims during a very difficult period in the state`s history. He fought against paganism and Arianism. In 496, he persuaded king Clovis I to convert to Christianity. Saint Remigius died in 533 at the age of 96 and was buried in the cemetery outside the city walls of Reims. The burial place of Saint Remigius became very revered. In 1007, the construction of a Basilica in the Romanesque architectural style was started here. In the 12th century, the chancel was expanded, and it acquired features of the Gothic architectural style.
Among other attractions, also should be mentioned the Palace Tau, which is attached close to the Reims Cathedral. French kings prepared for their coronation there, and after the coronation ceremony, a Banquet was held in the palace for invited guests. There are several museums in Reims. The most interesting of them are the Museum of Fine Arts and the Le Vergeur Museum. There are also preserved monuments of the Roman era: The arch of Mars and the Roman Criptoportico. It is very pleasant to walk around the historical center of the city.