Reims is one of those French cities that was 80% destroyed in WWI when the Germans isolated the city and artillery rained down. The Cathedral, the Basilica, and most other buildings – including residences – were left in ruins. The people sought shelter in the miles of chalk caves, the champagne storage caves, during the bombardments.
After the war ended, unlike other cities, which were rebuilt hurriedly, with less thought for design and planning, Reims was rebuilt carefully, with an eye towards the future.
The American people joined with Andrew Carnegie and the Rockefellers to finance the reconstruction. The result is a beautiful city! Wide pedestrian-friendly boulevards, parks, and monuments make Reims a delightful city to walk in. With a metropolitan population in the low hundreds of thousands instead of millions, it is an accessible city that still offers everything one could need.
Want more? The charm and sophistication of Paris is only a 45 minute train ride away. But with all the top Champagne brands, such as Tattengier, Moet & Chandon, etc., having headquarters here, Burgundy right next door, and all the top Paris shops with shops here, you’re more likely to find the Parisians (and Belgians & Germans) making the trip to Reims then vice versa. This is the center of the Champagne industry in the world.
Sadly, I’m leaving shortly. I hope someday to return again to this most charming little city in France. Au revoir!