Reims has two main claims to fame. The first is that it is at the heart of France’s champagne region – and only wines made in the area can have the name “champagne”. The second is that its cathedral was where no less than 33 French kings were crowned – making it the country’s equivalent of Westminster Abbey.
You can travel from Calais or Dieppe to Reims in just three hours by car so it’s ideal to head for after you have either taken our Newhaven-Dieppe, Dover-Dunkirk or our Dover-Calais crossing.
It’s also only about 1 hour and 40 minutes by car to Paris heading due south west.
WHY VISIT REIMS?
Perhaps best known for its champagne tours, Reims has a great deal more to enjoy too.
For example there is some magnificent architecture ranging from some of France’s finest examples of the gothic to a large number of art deco buildings which were put up after much of the city had been destroyed in the First World War.
In all there are no less than five sites that have official UNESCO World Heritage status with the last award being made in July 2015 when it was awarded to the champagne industry itself.
On any Reims visit it’s a good idea to buy one of the official City Cards. For under 20 euros, it entitles you to a visit to a champagne house and the choice of two audio tours of Reims.
As you’d expect, there’s also a wide choice of places to eat in the city from small bistros and cafes to some excellent Reims restaurants.
WHAT TO SEE IN REIMS
Visit the city and the very first place to head for is the magnificent Cathedrale Notre Dame de Reims. Many consider it just as magnificent as its namesake in Paris and it truly dominates the centre of the city. Step inside its huge interior and you will see a combination of stained glass dating back to the 13th Century and 20th Century windows designed by Chagall and installed in 2012 to coincide with the building’s 800th anniversary.
You can also make the climb up the cathedral tower’s 249 steps for a panoramic view of Reims and if you’re in the city when they are holding one of the frequent son et lumière displays make sure to catch this stunning spectacle.
Next to the cathedral is its museum in the Palais du Tau where, among other artefacts, you’ll find giant statues of some of the kings whose coronations were held there. Nearby is the Saint Remi Basilica, a 1,000 year old church which has contained the relics of the Bishop of Reims since 1099.
During the Roman occupation it’s thought that the city had no less than four gates around its walls and one of these remains today. The Porte de Mars is a triple-arched construction that’s 108 feet wide and 43 feet high which was originally built in the 3rd and 4th centuries.
A more modern piece of history can be found at the Surrender Museum which has been located in the building where, on May 7th 1945, German generals signed the documents to officially end the Second World War in Europe.
Of all the champagne houses you can visit, Taittinger is one of the most impressive. Their cellars once served an abbey that stood on the site and were carved out of chalk natural chalk pits. Today they hold an incredible 3 million bottles at any one time.
Champagne tours are also very popular and predominantly go from Epernay to Reims, taking in a large number of vineyards along the way.
WHERE TO STAY IN REIMS
Reims hotels are plentiful with many choices to suit every taste and budget. To find a hotel in or around Reims, visit our accommodation partner, Booking.com.
Prices are subject to availability. Telephone booking fees apply. Terms & Conditions apply.
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