The obvious reason to live here is in the name. If you are thinking about moving to the world’s sparkling-wine mecca, world heritage and sweet treats await.
Walk in the footsteps of French kings and Joan of Arc
Reims, the capital of Champagne, is also known as the City of Coronations. Thirty-three French kings, from the middle ages to the Bourbon restoration (1814-1830), have been crowned in the city’s cathedral. The crowning of Charles VII in 1429 by Joan of Arc is celebrated every spring for two days throughout the city, and the square in front of the cathedral hosts festivities and a medieval marketplace. Notre-Dame de Reims’ front portal boasts the largest number of sculpted figures of any cathedral in Europe after Chartres, including the iconic Smiling Angel in the north portal of the west façade.
Culture for all generations
The medieval city’s vibrant cultural scene invites international exchange and intergenerational participation. Every summer, the Flâneries Musicales de Reims meets for a three-week festival of classical music and holds events in some of the city’s three Unesco World Heritage sites as well as an open-air picnic concert. You can attend the organisation’s international conferences on music history throughout the year, which welcomes distinguished academics from all around the world.
Buy a château
Reims is a 90-minute drive from Paris and under three hours from Calais, and while the city attracts many tourists from around Europe to savour grand gastronomy and heritage for a weekend, the Champagne-Ardenne region is also a prime location for historical properties. For just under a million euros you can acquire your own château in a quiet part of the north-eastern French countryside and within proximity of the A5 motorway and other important axes of transport.
If you are a modernist at heart, you’ll find your happiness in the Art Deco buildings of the trendy Boulingrin neighbourhood in town.
Don’t skip dessert
The Champagne region has a biscuit-making tradition that dates back to the 17th century. Reims in particular is famous for its pink biscuit, also known as the champagne cookie. The reason? Twice baked, the champagne cookie is hard enough to dip in bubbly wine without softening.
Arnaud Lallement’s three Michelin-star restaurant L’Assiette Champenoise serves champagne throughout the meal and a variety of mignardises, local post-dessert nibbles ranging from praline chocolate to miniature lemon tarts.
Reims also has a wide array of independent shops and confectionery artisans. You can find its finest champagne biscuits and other pastel-coloured treats such as macaroons at the famed Fossier.
Touring the vineyards and cellars of Champagne is a good excuse to get away from the city and survey some of the region’s postcard-perfect hills and valleys, from the Massif de Saint Thierry and the Ardre Valley to the Montagne de Reims. The special advantage of living locally is free delivery of the best champagne from the city’s cavistes (try Cave des Sacres, a short walk from the cathedral) or directly from the vignerons.
Ruinart, the region’s oldest maison de Champagne, opens its cellars to private events and caters for the most exceptional dinner parties. Champagne is served — with expert commentary — from aperitif all the way through to dessert.
Photographs: Artjazz/Dreamstime; Nlphotos/Dreamstime; CW Images/Alamy; Tacna/Dreamstime; Alain Julien/AFP/Getty Images
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