Reims - France

Rheims is known for two things - it is capital of the Champagne region of France and it is the traditional site of the crowning of the Kings of France. It lies 80 miles (129 km) east of Paris and only 5 miles (8km) from the River Marne. Founded as Durocorter by the Gauls (Remi) in 80BC, it became a major city during the period of the Roman Empire. In 498 St Remi, Bishops of Reims, baptised Clovis, King of the Franks - an act that is said to have given birth to the French nation. From 815 the Gothic Cathedrale Notre-Dame in the centre of the city was used for the coronation of French kings from until 1825 - from Louis VII to Charles X. The main squares of Reims include the Place Royale, with a statue of Louis XV, and the Place Cardinal-Lu├žon, with an equestrian statue of Joan of Arc. The Place Drouet d'Erlon in the city centre contains many lively restaurants and bars, as well as several attractive statues and fountains. The oldest monument in Rheims is the Porte de Mars, a triumphal arch. Other sights of interest include the The Palace of Tau - an archiepiscopal palace (1498 to 1509, rebuilt 1675) which served as the residence of the kings of France on the occasion of their coronations, Saint Remi Basilica and the Royal Abbey of St Remi. Beneat the town and its suburbs there are endless caves for champagne. These cellars include those of Maison de Pommery, Maxims, Mumm, Piper-Heidsieck, Ruinart, Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot-Pnsardin.