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{reemz or rans}

The City of Reims

Reims (also Rheims) is a city in northeastern France on the Vesle River and the Aisne-Marne Canal, about 134 km (83 mi) northeast of Paris. It has a population of 187,206 (1999). Reims is the center of a major wine-growing region, specializing in champagne production. The city has been known for its textiles since the Middle Ages. Other important industries include metallurgy and the manufacture of chemicals, glass, machinery, and food products. The city has port facilities on the Aisne-Marne Canal. The University of Reims was established in 1547.

Notre Dame de Reims, west facade
Notre-Dame de Reims

Named for the Remi, a Gallic tribe, Reims was one of the principal urban centers of Gaul during Roman times. Later it was the coronation place of most of the French kings. The city suffered severe destruction during World War I when German forces captured and pillaged Reims for 10 days. The German army then occupied the heights overlooking the city for 4 years, and periodic bombing damaged or destroyed many of the buildings, including the important Gothic Cathedral of Notre Dame (13th century). Destruction also took place during World War II. The Germans surrendered unconditionally to the Allies on May 7, 1945, in a hall of the Collège Moderne in Reims, which had served as headquarters of the Allied command.

Notre-Dame Cathedral

Reims Cathedral, built (1211-1311) in Reims on the traditional coronation site of the kings of France, is one of the greatest monuments of Gothic art and architecture. Construction commenced under the architect Jean d'Orbais and was completed under Robert de Coucy. Reims Cathedral is a work of remarkable unity and harmony. The influence of Chartres Cathedral is evident in its quadripartite rib vaults, three-story elevation, and pier structure.

Reims' west front consists of three portals surrounded by sculptured arches, a rose window with superb 13th-century stained glass, and two matching towers. Gracing this facade is perhaps the richest body of sculpture of any Gothic church, one that shows an increasing realism and movement in contrast to the more rigid and formalized style of the 12th century. Part of the sculptural decoration, including the Visitation group, is executed in a classical vein, and part in a highly original style attributed to the so-called Joseph Master, whose elegant works presaged the 14th-century Gothic International Style in art. The cathedral, badly damaged during World War I, has been restored and stabilized (1918-37).

Associated with the cathedral are the 9th-century Abbey of Saint Remi and the Tau Palace, former archepiscopal residence. Together they constitute a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Lawrence M. Sommers, Professor of Geography, Michigan State University, East Lansing.
Sources: 2001 Grolier Multimedia Encyclopedia, © 2000 Grolier Interactive Inc. Notre-Dame de Reims, the official web site of the Cathedral.
Bibliography: Paul Frankl, Gothic Architecture (1962); Hans Jantzen, High Gothic: The Classic Cathedrals of Chartres, Reims, Amiens (1984); Whitney S. Stoddard, Art and Architecture in Medieval France (1972); Christopher Wilson, The Gothic Cathedral (1989; repr. 1992).
Relevant publications: Stan Parry, Great Gothic Cathedrals of France (2001). Anne-Marie Piaulet and Thierry Hatot, Reims Cathedral: Scale Architectural Paper Model.
Images: Notre-Dame de Reims (west façade), from Gothic Sculpture web site, maintained by Linda Neagley, Associate Professor of Art & Art History at Rice University, Houston, TX.

Location: (Rectory) 1, rue Guillaume de Machault (facing the Tourism Office), 51100 Reims.
Phone: 03-26-47-55-34. Fax: 03-26-77-94-64. E-mail:
Public access to rectory: Mon.-Sat. 9:00 a.m. - noon, 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Church hours
• Saint-Jacques: Mondays 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.; Tues.-Sat. 9:00 a.m. - noon, 2:00 - 6:00 p.m.; Sundays 8:30 a.m. - noon, 5:30 - 7:00 p.m.
• Cathedral: Every day 7:30 a.m. - 7:30 p.m.
Web site:

Tourism Office: 2, rue Guillaume de Machault (facing the Cathedral), 51100 Reims
Phone: 03-26-77-45-25. Fax: 03-26-77-45-27.
Web site:
Hours: Mon.-Sat. 9:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m., Sundays & holidays 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.


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