The Cathedral of Notre-Dame stands in Place du Cardinal-Luçon, in the center of the city of Reims. On the north side of the square is the Palais de Justice (Law Courts), with a small bronze equestrian statue of Joan of Arc (by P. Dubois, 1896) in front of it. With its unity of form, harmonious proportions and rich sculptural decoration, the Cathedral is a master work of High Gothic architecture, one of the great cathedrals of Europe.
Reims Cathedral Map
Address: Place du Cardinal Luçon, F-51100 Reims, France
Opening hours: 9am-12pm, 2pm-6pm; Closed: Sun
Useful tips: Pass covers tours of the Cathedral
Disability Access: Full facilities for persons with disabilities.
Reims Cathedral Highlights
The richly patterned west front of the cathedral in Reims has three magnificent doorways, with a beautiful rose window over the central doorway. Above this is the Gallery of Kings, a long row of statues set in niches, and above this again are the two squat towers. The large statues and reliefs with which the whole building is covered, almost to excess, are among the greatest achievements of medieval sculpture. The sculpture on the central doorway depicts the life of the Virgin (right, the Visitation and Annunciation; left, Joachim and Anne, Mary and a magnificent figure of Solomon). On the left-hand doorway (left side, next to door) is the smiling angel known as the "Sourire de Reims" (restored).The facade of the north transept is also very fine. On the central doorway are statues of bishops and other figures; on the left-hand doorway is a large figure of Christ in the attitude of benediction, and below this a Last Judgment, the finest achievement of the stone- masons of Reims (13th C).
The interior of the Reims Cathedral is freer from later additions than most other cathedrals, giving it an atmosphere of solemnity, almost of severity. Unfortunately most of the old stained glass has been lost; a few windows have been restored, and there are six new ones by Marc Chagall (1974). On the west wall, in architectural niches, are 120 figures which illustrate the development of French relief sculpture in the 13th century; particularly fine is the communion scene in the lowest row, to the right of the doorway. In the sacristy is the valuable cathedral treasury.