Reims is a beautiful, ancient town with centuries of history to explore. It was the city of coronations for the French Kings and of course the Home of Champagne (thanks to the monks.) Reims makes the perfect weekend getaway, especially if you love champagne. And only been an hour by TGV from Paris, via Champagne-Ardenne, Reims also makes it an easily accessible romantic getaway.
Who could resist visiting the region of Champagne? With so many Champagne Houses to visit, plus the history the city exudes, Reims is just one of those places you need to visit and enjoy stunning architecture.
Where to Stay in Reims
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Well, as we are budget travellers in between our housesitting assignments, one of our favourites is B&B Hotels. The room and bathroom are basic, but they are clean and affordable with a reasonably priced breakfast.
When choosing accommodation for your stay, we have a few favourite sites.
Always a favourite is Booking.com to receive a 15 % discount.
But for us, we love the lower prices of Hotels.com where after your 10th-night booked, your next night is free based on your average stay rate.
When we are staying longer and need the use of a kitchen, we use Airbnb. If you are new to Airbnb, then this link will give you a discount on your new booking.
Housesitting is the Cheapest Accommodation
You can read more about our Housesitting Assignments here and how we are living as a local. Let us know if you need help in setting up your Profile.
Taking a Self-Guided Walk of Reims
You can click here on Walkli for a detailed self-walking guide of Reims. We have done the hard work for you, so you can download the map and get started on your self-guided walk of ‘Reims the Champagne City’.
How to Book Champagne Tours
We found a tourist office located outside of the train station. When it is open, you can book a variety of tours to experience the wonderful champagne of the region.
What you will find is, there are many options to visit the Champagne Houses on foot in and around the city of Reims. So, it’s up to you to choose how many and which Champagne House to enjoy.
To help you choose which tour to book, click on this website The Champagne Houses to find out times and a map of Champagne Houses in Reims.
We chose Champagne Taittinger.
Champagne Taittinger and Caves
So why did we choose Taittinger to visit?
We had heard of the Taittinger Caves and of course, this piqued our interest. And Taittinger is a most famous, family champagne business dating back to the Crusades here in the city of Reims.
Booking a Tour to Visit the Cellar Caves
To book a tour, you can go directly to the website Pick a Visit – Taittinger or just arrive at Champagne Taittinger. It’s a good idea to check the website first, especially if you want to take a tour in English.
We booked a tour when we arrived at Taittinger, and only had a half hour wait until it commenced. So while we wandered outside to wait, we came across a collection of vintage vehicles. Always impressive to see these classics.
A Little History of Taittinger
Around the Middle Ages, there was a Monastery on this site. The Monks of the Saint Nicaise Abbey carved out chalk cave cellars to house the wine. The church was destroyed in the French Revolution, and later new buildings were put in its place. It is amazing to us, how long these caves have been here.
But there is also a modern history to the caves. During WWI, locals used the caves to shelter from bombings, and some even left reminders of their time while they waited, in the form of carvings in the cave walls.
The tour guide now ready for us, we headed down, down, down the 100 steps of the spiralling stairwell. Finding ourselves 18 metres below ground into the cellar caves which are listed as a UNESCO site.
Patience is a virtue they say – especially for Taittinger Champagne
Taittinger now holds around one million bottles on this site (the smaller one of two) as the fermenting phase takes 10 years. Typically, we were told, Taittinger produces 7-8 million bottles a year and sell 5-6 million bottles each year. With Taittinger keeping 5 years stock on hand in both caves systems.
Wow, this is a lot of champagne!
Luckily for us, we didn’t have to wait that long to enjoy a matured sample of champagne. At the end of the tour, depending on the ticket purchased, you can sample one or many varieties from the Taittinger range.
Taittinger champagne bottles are unique in their shape (large bottle and long neck) and for quantity. The largest bottle holds 3 litres, so larger than a magnum.
And the taste, divine.
Other Must Sees Places when Visiting Reims
After you are settled in your hotel, head out for a walk. You will find Reims is an amazing old town with beautiful buildings, cobblestone streets and a lovely pedestrian area with people enjoying a drink in the local restaurants.
In the morning we walked to the town plaza to find some breakfast. A local bakery was perfect for a coffee and croissant. It was enjoyable and warm as the temperature only 17degC. We just need a little time to acclimatise from the 42degC desert heat of Abu Dhabi, as well as the four months of 30-35 degC Asian humidity.
Notre Dame de Reims – Cathedral of Reims
Notre Dame de Reims is an impressive “new” church built in 1211, on the previous site of the Basilica from 496AD.
When entering the church, the first thing you notice is its size and the many side chapels, including the chapel for St Therese and Joan of Arc. It was in 1429 when Joan of Arc liberated Reims from the English.
The cathedral was also where the Kings of France were crowned.
Palais du Tau – Bishops Palace
Next door to the Cathedral is the Palais du Tau which was the palace for the Archbishop of Reims. The palace is now a UNESCO site and well worth a visit to see the Treasury and Tapestries dating back to the 15th century. It was from here the Kings processed to their coronation to Notre Dame de Reims and returned to a banquet in celebration.
Saint Remi Basilica – former Abbey Church
The Basilica is a UNESCO site and contains the relics of Reims’ patron saint, Saint Remi who as Bishop baptised Clovis the King of the Franks in 496. Unfortunately for us, the Basilica was closed. But, we did wander the grounds to view the Gothic architecture dating back to 1049.
Abbey Museum (Saint Remi Museum)
The Abbey Museum (closed between 12noon to 2pm) is a UNESCO site found next door to the Basilica. And, the museum has so much information on the history of Reims.
Porte de Mars – Old Roman Gate
The Porte de Mars was once the gate of the city and dates to the 3rd century. It was built as a triumphal arch named after the nearby temple Mars.
It was here in the Franklin Roosevelt High School building where the signing of Germany’s surrender in WWII took place on 7 May 1945. You can visit the Museum of Surrender to view the surrender document and other military memorabilia. But, another interesting fact, this building was also General Eisenhower headquarters.
Hotel de Ville, Reims
The Hotel de Ville is the local government office for the city. The building in Reims is an impressive building. Imagine working here?
Palais de Justice
This beautiful building was once the Hotel Dieu. But what is intriguing about this building, open to the public on rare occasions, is the 13th-century vaulted cellars. Now that would be impressive to see.
The Place Royale dates to Roman times when the area was part of the Roman forum of Durocorturum. Today you will find many beautiful buildings of French architecture. But take a look at the statue. The original of King Louis XV was destroyed in the revolution, so the statue you see here is a depiction of a king as a Roman Emperor.
Door of Champagne Mumm Shipping
Walking the streets of Reims we came across this beautiful door of the Champagne Mumm.
Where to Eat in Reims
Whether you have chosen to walk around the city or rent a car to travel further, Reims provides a choice of restaurants. If on a budget, you have the student area. But if you are wanting a memorable meal, then the inner city area is the place to head.
The street that impressed us the most for restaurants and bars, was Place Drouet d’Erlon. This street provides a great atmosphere for outside dining, it seems whatever the weather. It’s great for people watching and to get the feel of a French city.
For us, each morning we found a local Boulangerie for coffee and a croissant or two. Perhaps a Caffee au Lait (Coffee with Milk) or a Cafe Noisette (Expresso with Milk).