France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
A masterpiece of Gothic architecture and the site of the coronations of 25 Kings of France, La Cathédrale is a must-see.




The beautiful Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims, right in the center of Reims (map), has a long and storied history and a vibrant life today.

Built in the 13th century, its elegant exterior is covered with intricate carvings and statues depicting traditional bible stories. It is known for its statues of angels with open wings, as well as the "Smiling Angel" (L'Ange au Sourire).

Many of the statues seem to be communicating with each other. As you walk around, notice those who are facing each other and seem to be connecting.

The facade is beautiful and changes in different light. As the main door faces west, it is beautifully highlighted by the setting sun.

Reims cathedral

The interior stained glass ranges from historic Gothic windows to 20th-century works by Marc Chagall.

Stained glass, Cathédrale de Reims, France
This magnificent rose window is dedicated
to the Virgin Mary ("Our Lady/NotreDame").

The interior also includes the kings' gallery, with its wonderful statues of kings in 13th-century costume.

Tours of the Towers

Walking (and climbing!) tours of the towers are offered for a small fee. Reserve your place and buy your tickets at the Palais du Tau to climb the 249 steps to the roof. More...

A Bit of History

Starting with Clovis, the first king of France, Reims has been associated with royalty. Clovis was baptised at the nearby Basilique Saint-Remi. The Cathédrale (or its predecessor) was the home to more than 25 royal coronations, starting in the 11th century.

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame celebrated its 800th birthday in 2011. That was a remarkable feat, given how it has suffered over the centuries. During World War I it was continuously bombarded for four years.

In 1914, fire destroyed the 15th century roof timbers and scaffolding around the north tower. Although badly damaged, the strength of its design and structure prevented a full collapse. After the war there was consideration of making it into a memorial, but fortunately leaders decided to undertake restoration.

The extensive restoration and preservation work has continued for a century; as the cathedral celebrated its 800th birthday, the restoration of the north tower was completed. We are fortunate that we can still appreciate the architectural and artistic beauty of this structure.

Saints communicating, Reims Cathedral, France
Two saints on the façade seem to be waving
to each other and communicating.

Exhibits concerning the history of the Cathédrale, as well as some of its original statues, are on display at the neighboring Palais du Tau.

As part of the 800th birthday party, the town created a beautiful sound and light show, called Rêve de Couleurs (Dream of Colors). Shown on summer evenings (check with the Tourist Office for information), it beautifully illustrates the history of the Cathédrale and makes it come to life.

What to See & Do in Reims

Rêve de Couleurs

Palais du Tau

Hotels in Reims

Champagne Wineries

Visiting Champagne Houses

Reims Restaurants

Reims Transport

Tourist Information

About Reims


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Cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Reims, France

Above, Façade of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims.

Below, The famous smiling angel, glowing in the late afternoon sun.

  Smiling angel, Reims cathedral    
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