Make Reims a pit stop on the way home from Normandy

The smiling angel, one of 2,300 statues that decorate the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims, France, inside and out.


By MICHAEL ABRAMS | Stars and Stripes | Published: March 27, 2019

Reims is in the middle of France’s Champagne country.

Many of the bubbly’s makers have their headquarters here and vineyards surround the city.

But Reims is probably best known for its magnificent Cathedral of Notre-Dame.

Built in 1221 to replace an earlier edifice, it features an amazing 2,300 statues of all shapes and sizes, inside and on the outside of its imposing structure.

And despite all the bishops, saints, royals and Jesus Christ, the most popular statue is that of a smiling angel. With its almost Mona Lisa-like smile, it adorns the cathedral’s western facade by its main portals.

Sort of hidden away across from it is a statue of Joan of Arc.

She once stood in front of the cathedral, but with a remodeling of the surrounding square, the French heroine was unfortunately banished to the bushes.

There are also other things in Reims that are worth a look.

The Palais du Tau next door was once the palace of the Archbishop of Reims. Today it is a museum housing the cathedral’s treasures.

Nearby is the Bibliotheque Carnegie de Reims, an art deco library built from donations by the industrialist Andrew Carnegie after World War I. Besides the building itself, check out its wrought-iron gate and fence.

Much of the old city center has been made into a pedestrian area lined with cafes and restaurants. It’s a perfect place for a break.

While strolling around, you’ll probably pass the two interesting, but very different, fountains on each end of Place Drouet d’Erlon. One looks like a faded water-spurting dandelion, the other is topped by a golden angel.

So, if you are on your way back from Paris, the D-Day beaches or the battlefields and cemeteries of World War I, make a pitstop in Reims for a coffee or a champagne and check out the city’s marvels.


The west facade of the Cathedral of Notre-Dame in Reims, France. The cathedral is decorated, inside and out, with 2,300 statues of various sizes. Construction of the cathedral began in 1221 to replace an earlier edifice that was destroyed by fire.