Latest update: 1 September 2021
In Reims in France, you can see many sights in a short time. And that’s a good thing because that leaves a lot of time for outdoor cafes and champagne!
Reims in the Champagne region
Reims is located in the north of the Champagne region. If you go by car from The Netherlands, count on a drive of about five hours from Utrecht. Or fly to Paris, for example, and rent a car from Sunny Cars in Reims.
Some people call Reims the capital of the Champagne region; others swear it is Epernay. Well, for sure, Reims is a bit bigger than Épernay; it feels much more urban – although it’s still relatively small. Most sights can be reached on foot.
How much time do you need in Reims?
The blog’s title already gives it away: I advise you to go to Reims for two days. Of course, you can stay even longer if you’re in for day trips in the Champagne region. But if you mainly spend your time in the city, two nights is more than enough.
Notre-Dame of Reims (with or without the light show)
The main attraction of Reims is the cathedral. It’s immense. The exterior alone is super impressive. Inside, my neck hurts from staring up at the enormous stained glass windows. Wow. There is also a beautiful organ and a statue of Jeanne D’arc. You know, that 17-year-old girl who was quite active in the Hundred Years War between England and France. She ensured, among other things, that the road to Reims was cleared so that Charles VII could be crowned in the cathedral of Reims. In total, no fewer than 33 kings were crowned in the Notre-Dame de Reims!
You can rent an audio guide at the tourist office around the corner to really discover everything there is to see in Notre-Dame de Reims. You can easily overlook something in the enormous building while you marvel at all the splendor.
Those looking for a workout can climb the church tower. 250 steps – don’t say I didn’t warn you. You can buy a ticket at Palais du Tau, right next to the cathedral. The view must be fantastic, but unfortunately, the tower was not accessible during my visit.
In the evenings, a light show can be seen on the facade of the cathedral. The show lasts about half an hour. In 2020 and 2021, you can see the show Regalia. Just check what time it starts; you can check that here. The times vary because it has to be dark enough for the lights to impress. It’s supposedly excellent, but at the end of September, it intervened with dinner time. Food was my priority, so I skipped the show.
Palais du Tau
The Palais du Tau is on the Unesco World Heritage List, just like the cathedral, by the way. It was the residence of the Archbishop in the 17th and 18th centuries, and princes slept there before being crowned. Now, it is a museum where you can mainly see tapestries and objects used at the coronations. A visit is free with the Reims City Pass. Otherwise, it will cost you €11, including a visit to the Notre-Dame tower.
Champagne tasting and tour at Mumm
Bubbles!!! When in Reims, you actually owe it to yourself to visit a champagne house. I choose Maison G.H. Mumm. It turns out to be one of the largest champagne houses in Reims. A guided tour with a glass of champagne costs €23 per person. It’s my first ever visit to a champagne house, and it’s incredibly informative. I learn about the different grape varieties, grand crus and premier crus, and the entire production process. The lime cellars of Mumm store 25 million bottles of champagne. The cellars are no less than 25 kilometers long. To me, it’s very insightful to see what the entire process entails, and it explains the price too.
Would you also like to visit the champagne house Mumm? Book online.
Other champagne houses in Reims:
- Taittinger (also possible with a visit to the vineyards, which you can book here)
- Veuve Cliquot
- Charles de Cazanove
- G.H Martel
Place Drouet d’Erlon and the Fontaine Subé
Place Drouet d’Erlon is a long street full of restaurants and bars. On sunny days the street is full of outdoor seating. It’s a bit too en masse if you ask me. In the middle of the street, you will find a large fountain. This is the Fontaine Subé, and it is over a hundred years old.
Cafe Le Lion is on the corner of the fountain. Praised on several blogs because of the coffee, but I don’t think it’s very drinkable. Now, in my opinion, the French make terrible cappuccinos anyway, so maybe I’m not a good indicator. This is good advice though: Amorino (Google Maps location). Buy a stunning-looking en tasty-flavored ice cream in the shape of a flower. If you want, you get to pick a different flavor for each petal. Then, add a macaron on top, take a picture and enjoy!
Place du Forum: cryptoportique and terraces
On the large square Place du Forum, you will find a forum and a cryptoportique. In plain English: a central market square and an arcade, but centuries old. It’s a relic from Roman times, and it’s a bit weirdly situated in the middle of the square, half above and half underground. In the summer months, you can visit it in the afternoon. You can then access the gallery. Sometimes an open-air concert is held at the Forum in the evenings.
There are also a few cozy outside cafes on the square. It is more characteristic and friendly than the terraces on the Place Drouet d’Erlon. Le General, Edgar Bistrot or Bistrot du Forum? All fine, just choose a nice sunny spot and order a glass of champagne or an ice-cold beer.
Porte de Mars
Dive even further into Roman times and visit the Porte de Mars – you can only admire it from the sidewalk, so it’s free. It was the largest arch of the Roman Empire.
The small chapel is located on the grounds of the Mumm champagne house. The Notre-Dame-de-la-Paix is also called the Foujita Chapel because the Japanese painter Leonardo Foujita designed the chapel. That explains all the Japanese details. Leonardo Foujita and his wife are buried at the chapel. With an entrance ticket to the Foujita Chapel, you can also enter the Musée des Beaux-Arts.
Museums in Reims
Would you like to visit a museum in Reims? Then try:
- Musée Saint-Rémi: an old abbey with a military collection as well as tapestries and the history of Reims
- Musée des Beaux-Arts: also in an abbey and above all a lot of paintings
- Musée Automobile Reims Champagne: a car museum
- Planetarium: stargazing
- Musée Hôtel Le Vergeur: historical monument with art and fully furnished rooms in the style of the 15th century
The pink biscuits from Fossier
In Reims, they have pink biscuits from Fossier. In terms of taste, they can best be compared to a ladyfinger. They mainly look nice, and they have been around since the 18th century. You can buy the pink Fossier cookies at almost any souvenir shop and even in the supermarket. If you like, you can also take a tour of the biscuit factory. Make a reservation; you can do that here.
Hôtel de Ville, aka: the town hall
The Hôtel de Ville is located on the Place Royal. It is the town hall of Reims. It is not an attraction that you have to dwell on for hours, but it is a beautiful building. The Place Royal itself is spacious with beautiful arched galleries.
Because this library is located right next to Notre Dame, why not have a look, right? But there isn’t too much to it. The part where people are studying is beautiful, but it feels awkward to take the time to admire the space and take pictures. The room with all the card trays is wonderfully old-fashioned.
Reims City Pass
If you plan to visit many sights, participate in activities and see champagne houses, then it might be a good idea to purchase a Reims City Pass. It allows you to use public transport for free, you get a discount on entrance fees and tours and sometimes even free drinks at restaurants. So calculate for yourself if it’s a good deal. Learn exactly what you get with the Reims City Pass here. Buy it directly from the tourism office or from GetYourGuide.
Top restaurants and bars in Reims
Wine bar Le Clos
Around the market hall are several lovely places for a snack and a drink. For example, go to wine bar Le Clos for a good glass of wine or champagne in the evening. Take a seat at the streetside or discover the inner garden, including an outdoor bar and street art.
Restaurant Le Bocal
I have a fantastic lunch at Le Bocal. It is a simple, well-priced fish restaurant where the waiter explains the menu very friendly and clearly. Oysters, salmon tartare, langoustines, and of course, a glass Champagne. No one can ruin my day after this!
Wine Bar BibiViNo
I can’t believe my luck at wine bar BiBiVino either because the owner enjoys giving extensive advice about the wine. In English, thankfully. Unfortunately, you can’t get anything to eat here. But it’s a great place for some people-watching and champagne sipping.
Wine bar Aux 3 P’tits Bouchons
Wine bar Aux 3 P’tits Bouchons is located in a somewhat remote street. The staff doesn’t really speak English very well, but ordering a glass of wine with some snacks is fine. It’s a bit on the pricy side, but the snacks are delicious.
Staying in Reims
The prices for hotel rooms and apartments in Reims are not too bad. Count on €50 – €60 per night for a simple apartment (at Appart’City or Residhome) and a good hotel room at €80 (for example at Ibis). My choice is an apartment within walking distance of the center. It is on the second floor and is very spacious, except for the shower, where I can hardly turn my butt. The apartment is clean, nicely decorated, and there is even a washing machine. Convinced? Book this apartment on Airbnb.
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