For those of you who haven’t brushed up on their European Cathedral history, Notre-Dame de Reims is 800 years old, it would have been older had it not burnt down: It had to be rebuilt after fire damage in 1210 AD. The new and improved structure didn’t fare much better with the 100 Years war and successive World Wars in the early 20th century.
Nevertheless the Cathedral is one of the great masterpieces of the Middle Ages. The façade is covered with statues and statuettes, and its history of damage and reconstruction gives it a very definitive and unmatched profile. Celebrations for Reims Cathedral’s 800th birthday have been running since May 6th and come to a close on 23rd of October. Events have included exhibitions, conferences, street performances and lightshows so the public can admire the 81m Cathedral at night.
This structure has been a World Heritage site since 1991 and is a major site of European History. It was host to the coronation of 25 French kings including Joan of Arc crowing Charles VII. To mark such an auspicious birthday, six new stained glass windows have been designed by Imi Knowbel and installed in the apse of the cathedral.
The cathedral at Reims attracts near half a million tourists annually, but in such a special year there is a spirit of celebration which will really allow you to make the most of this magnificent feat of human engineering.
Reims is just a short drive from Calais, P&O Ferries can get you across the channel on their frequent service with a car and the kids you can visit the cathedral that has stood for 8 centuries.