From our night’s mooring near the Gaudart Ecluse it is 18 km with four locks to the center of Reims. Heading into Reims the scenery alongside the Canal de l’Aisne à la Marne gradually turns from idyllic farmland to suburban industrial and then to urban residential. Built in 1866, the canal, well buffered from Reims’ historic district, is an after thought to a city whose origins date before the birth of Christ.
In entering Reims by canal from the west we entered into wine country. Reims is the largest city in the Champagne region. It sits at the edge of an extended viticultural area. Beneath Reims is a labyrinth of caves and tunnels left from centuries of chalk mining. These caves are ideal places to age Champagne during its production. As a result, Reims, along with Épernay and Ay, is a major center of champagne production. Numerous large champagne houses have their headquarters in the city; many are open for tasting and tours.
Reims was an important city in the Roman Empire. After the fall of the Roman Empire, Reims rose as a religious center. It’s famous cathedral was the traditional site of the crowning of the kings of France, playing the same role in France as Westminster Abbey does in the United Kingdom. Heavily damaged in World War I, Reims Cathedral has since been rebuilt. Today, together with the former Abbey of Saint-Rémi and Palace of Tau, Reims Cathedral of Notre-Dame is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site. About one million visitors a year see Reims Cathedral.
We stayed several nights in Reims. In truth, we could have stayed longer. The city is deep in history. There is a lot to see and do.
We moored near the layby for the first lock in town. Reims has a port de plaisance that offers services but it is pretty much directly under the viaduct of a busy road. It seemed like staying away from the port was a good idea.