During World War I the towns and cities of northern France experienced widespread devastation, with some being literally erased from the landscape. Reconstruction during the decade and a half after the Armistice offered potential for experimenting with modernist ideas in architecture and planning, as well as following the traditions of régionalisme . Drawing on a selection of examples, this article explores the impact of destruction, reinvention of urban tradition, injection of international ideas and styles, and installation of garden suburbs. As the largest urban place to suffer extreme loss, particular attention is directed to the rebuilding of Reims. Over the last decade, the taken-for-granted townscapes of reconstruction have received scholarly investigation and have been recognized as heritage features that may help sustain local strategies for economic survival.