Sat. Apr 17th, 2021

The Best of France and nearby!

Live the bourgeois life in Reims in the Continental Hotel, Beaux-Arts and Le Vergeur Museums!

14 min read

Not far from the so connected Gare de Reims (connected in particular to Paris in 45 minutes and its airport of Roissy) is a hotel which perpetuates a certain charm of yesteryear.
The Hotel Continental was originally a mansion built in 1850, a Parisian couturier, the time when Reims was rather acclaimed for its fabrics than its champagne. That’s why the current Place d’Erlon next to the establishment was called the old rue des Coutures.

Today, there are many remains of this period, whose ceiling dates back to 1862 and the moldings representing vineyards.

These antique items have recently undergone a refresher course, during the refurbishment of the hotel’s fonts, which stretched between September 2017 and September 2018. A decade-long facelift tradition that has allowed the Continental Hotel to enter the XXI century and thus to truly assume its boutique hotel status. This fits well to the legendary Patrimony of Reims and notably the Houses of Champagne.

“It’s my responsibility to be a relay and to carry History, and not to exploit it in an ephemeral way.” Maxence de Barros, manager of the Continental Hotel.

This surgery was, this time, carried out masterfully by 3 trendy architecture players. Carlos Pujol for the bar-restaurant, Véronique Dupont for the rooms and the two together for the transition operated in the common areas. The architectural firm Dilegge managed the supervision of the previous designers and the structural work.

A mix of works of art that the architect Véronique Dupont had brought a touch of personalization to the 52 rooms. The comfort isn’t eclipsed since the isolation was reinforced, due to a strong effort of insulation was done due to clay balls under the floor and triple glazing concerning the windows, to avoid any street noise since the Hotel is located in the hyper-center of Reims!
This surprise effect does not stop there. It is fully in line with the response to travelers seeking variety and international standards, in order to follow some references in vogue in the high-end hotel industry (photo credits: Alex Plato).

Indeed, we can find four moods with different chromatic tones in the rooms: gold, green, blue and black. These nuances will match the tastes of everyone, some of whom will opt for a balcony, a bath, a shower, or even both and even Japanese toilets!

You will notice that these subtleties of color match perfectly with other contemporary color codes that can be found in the common areas, and rather dark, as the navy blue restaurant or lavender gray for the ceiling.

Certainly, this new identity brought to the Hotel Continental will seduce processions  of holiday happy few coming, for some of them, straight from the brand new connection of the TGV from Roissy airport.

This renovation initiative is registered in the core of a long term tourism plan elaborated by the Reims metropolis, with the goal of welcoming a revival of tourists. Management independence allowing certain freedoms to better break the codes of the customer experience…
You will be thrilled to discover rather large rooms, with bathroom surfaces just as important. Air conditioning, personal bathroom amenities and coffee machine using organic coffee.

In terms of services offered, a seminar room for 25 people (of 70m2) and a gym, accessible from the patio. This space is open 24/7 and the Hotel also proposes SPA cares from the Motio Institute, in partnership with the Codage Paris Cosmetics, the brand that also supplies the hospitality and toilet elements in the rooms.

On the other hand, a deliberate choice of absence of mini-bars for a greater human interaction especially through an adapted room-service offer.

Following the light disposition of the reception, just equipped by a standing table, the different hospitality’s philosophy of the Continental pursues with other facilities. A chat-bot, named Zalia, developed by QuickText, is present on the hotel’s website, from the welcoming page, in order to answer customers’ recurring questions.

This function directly connected to the hotel platform could tell about the customers about the maids passage and thus warn them of the availability of their room.

Consequently, this is dedicated for a very digital interaction and especially very direct, which responds to current travel trends, oriented to digital and cosy ambiances. Also an occasion, to highlight the local products like those Reims Parfums line of the 3 fragrances, conceived by the Reims Theater actor Jean-Philippe Vidal and the nez, Bertrand Duchaufour,. A tribute to this City of the Coronations of the Kings of France.

An entertainment program addressed to customers is slowly taking place…
A pajamas party, oenology sessions are regularly proposed around the discovery of new wines with a sommelier, rum-cigars workshops with tasting of these commodities. For the winter, cafés-philos (philosophical cafés) would surely much inspiration for the best exchanges.

In another hand, references to champagne houses are multiple in the hotel. By the way, the Passion Chardonnay association is welcomed there every year and then promotes the secrets of Chardonnay and the terroir of Champagne, within each year a tasting of clear wines and Blanc de Blancs champagnes.

An homonym untitled continental breakfast, is offered until 10am. This is imagined like a simple brunch, charged 21 euros, if not included in your room rate.

From the buffet presentation, are presented, different homemade pastries and viennoiseries.

Those are joined by fruits, detox juices or alternative organic milks (like almond and nuts). Your coffee is directly served at your table and you may also ask a cup of champagne to start your sparkling day!

A personalized omelette could be cooked at your own taste if you would complete your breakfast with a hot touch. From this moment, take the opportunity to savor this panorama on the Place d’Arlon, with your neighbors!

Same place but different management, the Continental Restaurant offers a golden central comptoir (like in the Louis XV restaurant by Alain Ducasse in Monaco) and rays of lights at night thanks to the light reverberation on those mysterious dark blue walls and the bottles shelves.  Indeed, a carte of nearly 300 wines are offered. Of course, many champagne references are also proposed. Among them of a dozen independent houses.

This cosy framework would make an eco-friendly day, echoing the cuisine of the Chef Gilles Landragean. Indeed this Continental Restaurant, looks local and seasonal. You may find creative dishes on the menu, such as Wild arctic charr, Black Angus beef tataki, Roasted pollack and peaches, Tangy lobster and even Scottish Shortbread with blueberries!

Continental Hotel & Restaurant / 95 Place Drouet d’Erlon, 51100 Reims / 00 33 (0)3 26 40 63 83

Still holding the History of Reims’ mansions, let’s get into the Hotel Le Vergeur, built in the 13th century, in a district populated by rich merchants. The building belonged in the 16th century to Nicolas Le Vergeur, a typical Reims bourgeois who transformed it and gave it the characteristics of a mansion with Renaissance interior and facades, arranged around a courtyard.
Its then owner Hugues Krafft (1853-1935) brought back a large number of objects, from his many travels around the world, clothing and photographic plates constituting a beautiful ethnographic ensemble. Mr Krafft acquired the The Hotel Le Vergeur in 1910, in order to save the remarkable painted wooden ceiling, located in the Gothic hall of the thirteenth century, from a departure to the United States. This so called hall, has now unfortunately disappeared. After the First World War, he financed the reconstruction of the building, largely destroyed by bombing, and installed the headquarters of the Society of Friends of Old Reims, an association he created in 1909.

Upon his death, his rich collections of furniture and art objects formed the core of the Musée Le Vergeur, which today offers a remarkable immersion in this bourgeois interior from the 18th to the beginning of the 20th century.

This Hotel Le Vergeur is located in the center of the former Market Place of Reims, where remains the vestiges of a very old Gallo-Roman forum, standing at the level of the ancient soil. Nowadays, there are many concerts and shows organized in this formidable agora, surrounded by plenty of outdoor cafés and restaurants.

In the immediate vicinity of this forum, and since the end of the 12th century, the district of the rue du Marc was inhabited by the nobility and the rich bourgeoisie.

It was also the center of the commercial activity of the city, that is to say the lodges of merchants, bankers and money changers.

Numerous legendary mansions survived, as a whole or just partly before the 1914-1918 war. Among them, the famous House of Musicians; the neighboring hotel which was later called the Palais Royal (Royal Palace); and of course the Hôtel le Vergeur, with its vast room lit by tall mullioned windows and rosettes.

Those were mainly built, in the thirteenth century, in the area between the rue du Marc and rue de Tambour, one of the oldest streets of Reims, which was colored recently with eight different hues! It’s in this street, you walk in front of the Demeure des Comtes de Champagne (the Abode of the Counts of Champagne), one of the rare remains of the medieval architecture of Reims. This majestic palace was residence of those VIP personae, especially during the occasion of royal coronations, which were held in the cathedral. Today, this building is the property of Champagne Taittinger, which restored this house of the thirteenth century, that still hosts receptions, exhibitions and concerts.

This mansion contains a retrospective of bourgeois furniture. The hall of honor, whose 15th century pavement floor is still preserved, includes an impressive portrait by the Dutch painter Jacob Backer, a contemporary of Rembrandt, as well as an imposing 17th century German cabinet. In the Renaissance gallery, which adjoins the main building, a selection of Gallic and Gallo-Roman archaeological remains evokes the history of the ancient city of Durocortorum.

This Museum, worthy of interest, reserves many surprises on every level. On the first floor, the reception rooms are arranged around a central hallway, the Salon des Sacres, the smoking room, the boudoir and the dining room are decorated with rich Louis XIII, Louis XV and Louis XVI styled furnitures. The history of the french Kings coronations, in the eighteenth century, is traced through various paintings and prints, the great history mingling with the one of the edifice.

From a portrait to an other, you would recognize the carved bust of the Champagne mogul Pommery, his wife and his son! Further on, you may also discuss with the guide about the story of the famous Reims biscuit (biscuit means cooked twice), that became pink thanks to a dye process. This monument of the Reims gastronomy, initiated by the Fossier biscuit factory, was already part of the coronation ceremony of Louis XVI.

If you take advantage of a shiny weather, you should have a walk through the tasty garden, behind the hotel. This natural heaven hosts several ancient facades, saved from destruction. Thus this ensemble constitutes a true outdoor museum of the Reims architecture, and don’t forget to play your skills on the piano, at the disposal of the enthusiats!

As you could notice upon, the rooms reserved for the servants: the kitchen and the office. The brass with the initials of the master of house “HK”, the beautiful set of French and foreign porcelains.

There is a very accurate reconstruction of a bourgeois interior, with the traditional boudoir, smoking room, dining room and Limoges table service porcelain, the bathroom and even one of the first water heaters by that time!

The Hotel staff could eventually take advantage of the two very advanced kitchens for that time, and prepare the best dinners in town! This hypothesis could be verified with the help of the various menus, which took part Mr Kraft, hung on the walls. You could also admire an incredible complete service of porcelain of 261 pieces of a service à l’oignon (onion service) from the Meissen factory in Dresden.

This trip in past modernity is prolonged with this doorbell table indicating where the ringtones come from. It’s understandable that with such an imposing mansion, this kind of technology may have saved much time!

There are many references in this Hotel to the royal past regarding the city of Reims, like those Queen busts and those coronations official costumes.

This is a real Cabinet of Curiosities with Art and Culture everywhere! For instance, those souvenirs from Mr Krafft’s trips in Japan or his passion for music are notable.

The top floor sums up all of Mr. Kraft’s travel memories, particularly in Asia and Europe.

The collections have been enriched each year thanks to the generosity of many donors, including a precious complete and original series of engravings from Albrecht Dürer‘s L’Apocalypse and La Grande Passion.

In the same room, you could also admire the oldest representation of the King Henri III‘s coronation. This is a very rare witness of the French History, you should take some time on this drawing!

We discover the personal and family history of Hugues Krafft, with children’s drawings, painted portraits and family photos.

You would find many objects brought back from his travels all around the world, his painting equipment, his cameras, as well as some of the thousands of photographs he has made.

This amount of elements spread, through the rooms, allows us to better understand the amazing and fascinating personality of this enlightened philanthropist and collector.

By the way, he was one of the important figures of Japonism in France and Europe. The different facets of Krafft are thus sketched, at once young bourgeois having received a classical education, globetrotter, active member of many learned societies and defender of the local inheritance.

For the first exhibition at Le Vergeur Museum, associated with the team of the Reims Museum of Fine Arts, to highlight the power of the arts in the history of the city, at the time of its reconstruction after the disasters of the Great War. It was during this difficult period that Reims gathered forces to revitalize and rebuild the destroyed city.

Standing on an orange background, this cultural path shows about fifty pieces belonging to Le Vergeur Museum, the Carnegie Library and, mainly, the Museum of Fine Arts, the exhibition evokes the face of the city in the 1920s. After a quick presentation of the damaged and lost places, the visitor may wander the alleys under reparation, then discover new constructions… Paintings, stained glass, drawings, posters, glassworks and ironwork illustrate the hope of a city seeking to regain control of its destiny, through a certain lifestyle, oscillating between tradition and modernity with artists such as Ernest Kalas, Jacques Simon, Paul-Hubert Lepage, Adrien Sénéchal, Gustave Pierre, Jean Goulden, René Lalique, Paul Bocquet…

Hotel Le Vergeur Museum / 36 Place du Forum, 51100 Reims / 00 33 (0)3 26 47 20 75 / Only accessible by private visits every hour. Open every day from 2 pm to 6 pm, closed on Mondays and on January 1st, May 1st, November 1st and December 25th.

The Museum of Fine Arts of Reims invites you to the heart of a journey of five centuries through French and European art, from Renaissance to Art Deco through the painting of the Grand Siècle, Impressionism and art. unclassifiable work of the French-Japanese artist Léonard Foujita.

The visit of this vast museum begins with the Salle Gérard, magnifying artistic Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles, through a multitude of objects, works and furniture.
It traces the evolution of these ubiquitous styles into the architecture of Reims and which culminated at the end of the Great War. The pieces shown here illustrate the richness and variety of decorative arts found in every room of the house. The museum was thus a rich collection of these two styles, as much by the Art Nouveau mainly represented by the Art of Émile Gallé as the Art Déco, more floral and flirting sometimes with cubism and modernism. The current includes works by Jean Dunand, Jean Goulden, Michel Dufet and Charlotte Perriand.

This space adjoins the Temporary Exhibitions Hall, organized around collections in reserves or loans from partner museums. Currently and until September 22, 2019, the Museum of Fine Arts is interested in portraiture in the century of Colbert. A local personality and the news since in this year 2019, is celebrated the 400th anniversary of Jean-Baptiste Colbert, born August 29, 1619 in Reims… In a seventeenth century where the portrait played an important role in the society.

When you climb upstairs with this majestic staircase, you reach this impressive Room Monthelon, which takes you to the heart of the Renaissance.
The works in this gallery emanate from the great tendencies of the 16th century, namely religious paintings, as well as secular paintings showing the place of the human in Renaissance society, in France and in Italy, with portraits painted by Georges Boba and Giovanni-Battista Moroni.


A little further, you will access such a vintage of Champagne to the Grand Siècle Gallery!
The room includes both French and Dutch portraits, like the representation of Louis XIV on horseback, the workshop of Pierre Mignard, but also Children Habert de Montmor of Philippe de Champaigne and Girl with peacocks Melchior Hondecoeter.
Then paintings of history, religious and mythological French, allow to approach the baroque style with Simon Vouet The Assumption of the Virgin, or Jean-Baptiste Jouvenet Apollo and the chariot of the Sun. Finally, the classic style with the historical landscapes of religious nature of Laurent de La Hyre or the one after Nicolas Poussin.

This permanent exhibition is strongly linked with the theme of the next gallery, the Diancourt room focused on the Siècle des Lumières (Age of Enlightenment).
The visitor finds his account between Neoclassicism and the Decorative Arts. The latter, more rococo and libertine, evokes the art of living in the eighteenth century. We can find here a secret dresser by Jean Saddon and especially the exceptional collection of ceramics by Jeanne-Alexandrine Pommery.


The Beaux-Arts Museum is smaller than many others but has an exceptional collection of works by Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, twenty-six landscapes and a portrait. This is for sure, the richest together in Europe preserved in a museum, after the Louvre museum. This fund, known by international renowned specialists, offers a complete panorama of his artistic approach.

Claude Monet / Les racines de la Creuse
Henri Martin / La Vallée du Vert au Crépuscule

In the next room, the place of landscape in the nineteenth century is important. This genre reaches its peak with Impressionist artists, of whom are shown some masterpieces, urban or rural representations, from Claude Monet to Camille Pissarro and other luminous paintings by Henri Martin or Jean-François Raffaëlli.
The course continues with an evocation of the lived or dreamed facets of Orientalism with Eugène Fromentin or Etienne Dinet and ends with a selection of some naturalistic genre scenes of large formats, including the famous Le Vin by Léon Lhermitte.


Ferdinand Gueldry / L’éclusée

In 2013-2014, we find many of the 2300 pieces left to the museum by the heirs of Kimiyo Foujita.


Essential reference to evoke Léonard Foujita, this collection is revealed here by some major works, including The Apocalypse, evoking in particular his spiritual quest that led him, in 1959, to his baptism in Reims and the realization of his chapel, dedicated to Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix.

Étienne Dinet / Nue au bord de l’Oued       

Then come and observe the beginnings of modernity, especially around the work of Paul Gauguin, paintings of the artists of Pont-Aven and the Nabis, with their large colored areas, such as The Red Beach by Maurice Denis, show the evolution of the avant-gardes in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Also note the beginnings of Fauvism with the artists Albert Marquet and Charles Camoin, and the cubist movement with Louis Marcoussis and André Lhote.

Reims Museum of Fine Arts
Open every day from 10 am to 12 pm and from 2 pm to 6 pm – Closed on Tuesdays.

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