France Travel Planner by Tom Brosnahan & Jane Fisher   Cathedral Towers, Reims, France
Cathedral towers offer opportunities for great views, and for seeing details that aren't visible from below.

Spire, Reims cathedral, France
View of the angel spire atop
the cathedral.



 

 

 

The Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims dates from the 13th century and is known for its beautiful statues and carvings. Many of these, such as the "Smiling Angel," can easily be seen from the ground. Many more sculptures decorate the upper levels of the cathedral, and they can be seen up close if you're willing to do a little climbing.

"A little climbing" means 249 steps up a spiral staircase in the north tower, and later down those same 249 steps. You don't have to rush, but you do need to be prepared to make the climb. Group visits are limited to 16 people, so it never gets too crowded.

Your first stop at the Gallery of Kings introduces you to a variety of very large statues in a small courtyard. This gives you a chance to catch your breath and begin to appreciate the scale of this magnificent building.

Reims cathedral, France
Visitors look small compared to these statues
that are visible if you climb the towers of the Reims Cathedral.

From here you will continue through the structure, enjoying different views of elements of the cathedral itself, such as statues, the spire, bells, flying buttresses, and shiny gold fleur-de-lis. In addition, you will get some panoramic views of the city of Reims.

One of the interesting features of the tour is the chance to go under the roof framework and walk the length of the building. This magnificent structure, originally done in wood, was destroyed by fire in World War I. The lead in the roof also melted and dripped out through the gargoyles. The structure was rebuilt with support from the French government and John D. Rockefeller Jr. The current roof structure is made of reinforced concrete. The entire building suffered significant damage during the war, and for a time the plan was to convert it to a memorial. Fortunately, the cathedral was restored and it re-opened in 1938.

Reims cathedral roof, France
It's a great experience to walk underneath the roof of
Notre-Dame de Reims.

From the south transept you can enjoy views of the towers and flying buttresses, as well as the Palais du Tau below. You will also get an appreciation of the tall angel spire and the fascinating statues and gold work at its base. The original angel is now kept in the Palais du Tau.

Be aware that tours are conducted in French. The guide may speak some English, and when you buy your ticket you can get a small brochure in English that explains the main elements included on the tour. If you don't speak French you can still enjoy the visit, but you may not get all the details. You will get all the views, however.

Because of the small size of the tours, it is best to book in advance. Tickets may be purchased at the Palais du Tau, next to the cathedral. The Palais du Tau is an excellent museum with many original statues and other artifacts from the cathedral, as well as information about the history and architecture of the building. If you are planning to visit the museum and climb the towers, you can benefit from a combined ticket and save several euros.

And of course, you will want to visit the interior of the cathedral as well, and admire the exquisite stained glass and statuary. More...

When the great cathedrals such as Notre-Dame de Reims were built centuries ago, did the stone carvers imagine people climbing the towers and seeing the majesty of their work up close? I always marvel at the care and detail that went into creating works of art high above where the people were. Did they know I'd be admiring this angel 7 centuries later?

Reims cathedral, France


What to See & Do in Reims

Notre-Dame de Reims Cathedral

Rêve de Couleurs

Palais du Tau

Hotels in Reims

Champagne Wineries

Visiting Champagne Houses

Reims Restaurants

Reims Transport

Tourist Information

About Reims

 

 

Reims cathedral, France

Above, Lovely view of the tower and some of the details of Notre-Dame de Reims.

Below, A view from the top.

 

View from towers, Reims cathedral, France

 

 

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