There are surely many reasons for a visit to Reims. Not least amongst them is the superb gothic Cathedral of Our Lady, which is arguably finer than its more famous cousin in Paris. The ancient kings of France certainly thought so, as they were crowned here between 1364 and 1825.
Reims today is a modern city with an ancient heart, mixing the tram with the bicycle and making way for the walker in its expansive and pedestrianised boulevards. The cathedral almost hides away in the centre, its towering Gothic presence taking you by surprise as you turn into Rue Libergier.
We chose a Sunday to visit. In fact, we chose Easter Sunday. We both wanted to enjoy and take part in the festivities for probably the most important Christian festival of the year. I had already tried to find out if visitors were welcome on such a special occasion but had not been able to get a definitive answer. In fact, I had not found any answers at all.
So we just turned up.
And joined around a thousand other people enjoying the marvelous acoustics and calm grandeur of this beautiful cathedral.
Now call me old fashioned if you like, but if I visit any sort of 'sacred' site or building, I'm always keen to keep as low a profile as possible. While this may not be appropriate for the Hindu festival of Holi or the fireworks of the Festa del Rentore in Venice, it is certainly a polite move on Easter Sunday in a cathedral during the service.
It was, therefore, a shame and a distraction that the cathedral authorities needed to deploy volunteers to politely request a stop to filming and photography and to gently impose a little decorum on the not so small number of tourists who insisted that their visit to the cathedral was not to be interrupted by anything as inconvenient as the 45 minutes it was being used for the purpose for which it was designed.
A beautiful, majestic building which is a must see if you are anywhere near the city of Reims or travelling in the Champagne area. Extra special on Easter Sunday.