There’s nothing quite like the pop of a Champagne bottle to make you feel festive and with Reims, the capital of Champagne so close to Paris, there’s no excuse not to go!
Take the Train to Reims from Paris
With Reims, the capital of Champagne, just 45 minutes from Paris by train it’s the perfect day trip location but even more so for a sparkling weekend break. From Reims you can travel around the Champagne countryside on the “Bubbles Line”. You really don’t need a car to get around and that means that you can also enjoy a glass or two without having to worry about being over the limit says Janine Marsh
Reims train station is in the centre of town making it easy to walk to all the sites and there are many. UNESCO heritage sites abound here, perhaps the most well-known is the iconic Cathedral of Notre Dame.
What to see in Reims
33 Kings were crowned in Reims from 816 to 1825 including Charles VII in 1429, accompanied by Joan of Arc. It comes as a shock to many visitors to discover that many of the sculptures featured on its façade are copies or casts. Damaged badly by bombing in World War I, the Cathedral was rebuilt. It says much about the integrity of the work carried out that this Cathedral is still considered one of the finest examples of Gothic architecture in the world. Statues of 63 kings, 3m high and weighing 6 tonnes each adorn the façade. It’s no less impressive inside where stained-glass windows dating to the 13th century vie for attention along-side the magnificent stained-glass windows designed by Marc Chagall.
Next door, visit the Palais du Tau, the former Bishops’ Palace, and residence of Kings whilst awaiting coronation, is now a museum dedicated to the Cathedral. The St Remi Basilica which was mostly built in the 12th century is named after the Bishop of Reims who baptised Clovis, the King of the Franks in 496.
Even older is the Roman legacy, the huge Port de Mars which stands majestically at the end of a busy road, it is quite simply astonishing.
A huge area of Champagne itself has UNESCO status, including Reims, granted in 2015 in recognition of its Paysages de Champagne.
Champagne tasting in Reims
You can’t go to Reims and not do a Champagne tasting – you’re spoiled for choice here. The city is built on top of miles of secret passages that contain millions of slumbering bottles of Champagne. Nicholas Ruinart started the trend for maturing Champagne in the chalky caves, the digging out of which was begun in the Gallo Roman period. There are several big Champagne makers including Mumm, which has a brilliant tour, Veuve Cliquot, Taittinger, Lanson and Drappier, who make the biggest bottles of Champagne known as a Melchizedekis – they hold 400 glasses of bubbles!
If you want to try Champagne from smaller producers and artisans head to the Tresors de Champagne Boutique (2, rue Olivier Métra), where you can take a tasting – with more than 160 different cuvées each week, you’re sure to find one you absolutely love.
When you’ve had your fill of history, take a break in one of the many restaurants and bars – one of the best reasons to visit.
Where to eat out in Reims
Locals love: Café du Palais is a 4th generation family run restaurant that has been pleasing the punters since 1930. Dishes on the menu pair perfectly with bubbles. 3 course menu €39.00 includes a glass of Champagne (14, Place Myron Herrick).
Wine and dine: The Brasserie Excelsior near the train station has oodles of old school glamour, think chandeliers and banquettes and a style reminiscent of the Roaring Twenties. 2 course lunch menu from €28.50 (96 place Drouet d’Erlon).
Find out more about Reims: ReimsTourism.com