The world-famous Champagne region in France is a top-tier destination, with Reims being the ultimate city to explore. While this area is known for its beautiful countryside and vineyards, Reims is full of historical sites and incredible architecture too. Within minutes of arriving, I fell in love with Reims. It’s a smaller version of Paris- a little quieter but still has all the arts, culture, important landmarks, and history to keep you busy for days.
To make your itinerary planning easier, this is your very best guide to Reims Champagne.
In this ultimate guide, I will answer all the questions you might have, plus share the top things to do in Reims, including some hidden gems. Oh, yes, that includes champagne tours. So grab a glass of your favourite bubbly, and let’s escape to Reims together!
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Reims
Reims doesn’t just have one designated UNESCO World Heritage site, but two! It’s one of the major draws to this city to learn more about its rich and long history.
Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral
Notre Dame de Reims Cathedral often called the Reims Cathedral, is one of the most important landmarks in Reims. The towering Reims Cathedral is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site, which also includes the former Abbey of Saint-Remi (dating back to 1170) and the royal and archiepiscopal Palais du Tau (reconstructed in the 17th century). All of these structures played an important role in French history. The 13th-century Gothic Notre Dame Cathedral along with the Tau Palace hosted all of the French coronations for over 800 years. Get your skip-the-line entrance ticket to Tau Palace here, and take a 1.5-hour guided tour of the Cathedral.
Between the Cathedral, Abbey and Palace most of the original structures, 2,300 statues, and stained windows have been rebuilt and replaced after the bombing in WWI.
The Saint Remi Museum is a must-visit. This museum is located in the 17th and 18th-century buildings of the former St. Remi Royal Abbey. And, it’s gorgeous. Featuring 4 separate exhibits, this is an archeology and art museum in Reims. Entrance fee 5€, closed Mondays.
Hillsides, Houses and Cellars of Champagne
The places (Hillsides, Houses, and Cellars of Champagne) responsible for making sparkling wines since the 17th century is designated as UNESCO World Heritage site. Specifically, it’s three distinct groups: the historic vineyards of Hautvillers, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, the Saint-Nicaise hill in Reims, and the Avenue de Champagne and Fort Chabrol in Epernay. The historic hillsides of grapes, the Champagne houses for production, and the underground cellars for storing are considered the 3 integral parts of the process.
Best Things to Do in Reims Champagne
There’s no shortage of great attractions in Reims. For lovers of architecture – Reims is the place to go! This capital city of the Champagne region has everything from Renaissance to Gothic to Art Deco. In front of every historical monument is a plaque detailing its past and significance. It’s your own little Reims sightseeing walking tour. So, let’s go for a stroll together and explore the top sites to see in Reims.
Porte Mars is an ancient Roman triumphal arch that dates back to the 3rd century. It symbolizes the gratitude that the people felt when the Romans brought major roads through their city. What makes this a top thing to see in Reims? Not only is considered the widest arch in the Roman world, but it also’s impressive and a great photo op!
The Sube Fountain, from 1906, sits in the middle of Erlon Square or Place d’Erlon. This busy pedestrian square is a hub of activity. Reims restaurants offering al fresco dining line the streets. Bakeries, cafes, and bistros, the list is endless. At its centre, is a crowned woman draped in cloth, which is a symbol of the city. Around the base represents the Champagne region’s four rivers: Marne, Vesle, Suippe, and Aisne rivers. Come nightfall, bright pink lights light up the fountain. This fountain and square are not to be missed!
Passage Sube, inspired by the 19th century covered passages in Paris, may not be as elegant as the arcades in Paris but still worth going for a stroll for some Reims shopping. Built in 1925, Passage Sube does have a vaulted glass ceiling and is a top thing to do on a rainy day in Reims.
Reims Opera House
The Reims Opera House, known historically as the Grand Théâtre, was built in 1873. Inspired by the Paris opera house, I was eager to see a performance, unfortunately, tickets are only available for Friday to Sunday evenings, with no tours available of the interior. It’s a grand building on a busy corner that’s worth seeking out.
The Carnegie library in Reims was built in 1928 in Art Deco style based on donations from the American steel businessman Andrew Carnegie. Those who love Art Deco architecture will appreciate the fine details found here. The stained glass windows, interior fountain, and wood detailing are all well preserved. You can enter the library without being a citizen or cardholder with access to the main lobby only. Being a solo traveller in the non-peak tourist season and asking politely en francais, I was able to take a quick peek inside the Salle de Lecture. And, was it ever worth it! Take note book and architecture enthusiasts, this is a top site to visit in Reims.
Royal Square or Place Royale in Reims was built in honour of Louis XV in 1757. At the centre is a monument of King Louis with the perimeter of the former Hotel des Fermes. This is a busy roundabout for cars and pedestrians getting you from one area of the city to another. Stop and admire the grandeur of the historic building that frames this Square.
The Cryptoportique is an important historical landmark in Reims. It’s evidence that the Romans were here. The building is partially buried and where beans were stored all those centuries ago. There are only five Gallo Roman cryptoporticus registered in the world, and one of those five is found in Reims. You can tour this historical site for free to learn more about the history of the excavations and objects found here. In fair weather, small outdoor concerts are held here.
Cryptoportique sits on Place du Forum, a noteworthy square that once served as a large market. Today, it serves as a parking lot, home to popular festivals in Reims, festivals like a large Christmas market. It’s the architecture surrounding the perimeter that catches your attention. Several houses in Art Deco style and Le Vergeur Hotel.
Le Vergeur Hotel & Museum
The Vergeur Museum Hotel is a historical monument in Reims from the 13th century. It’s considered one of the best examples of late medieval and early Renaissance architecture in Reims. Today the building houses a growing collection of decorative arts, furnishings, fine prints, and paintings telling the history of the city and the surrounding region. The tiny Vergeur Garden is a highlight. This quiet sanctuary is a nice way to end your tour. Entrance to Le Vergeur Hotel Museum is 5€ and a small guided tour is available Tuesday to Sunday for an extra 4€.
Boulingrin Covered Market
The Boulingrin Covered Market or Halles Boulingrin is the place to go in Reims for specialty foods, produce, and flowers. This large market, built in the 1920s, is a stunning Art Deco design, making it a top site to visit for that reason alone! The market is open Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays only. Sadly, those days of the week didn’t line up for my visit.
Hidden Gems in Reims
With any Google search, it’s easy to find the most popular landmarks to visit in Reims, and hopefully, that’s how you found this article. But what about those secret places that only locals know about, places a little off the beaten path? I spent hours pounding the pavement in hopes of finding some to share with you.
Les Hautes Promenades to Square de la Patte d’Oie
As soon as you exit the Reims train station you can’t help but notice a city square and a long green space stretching to opposite sides. It’s beautifully designed- separating the train station from the entry to the city. Now, you might be asking how can this be considered a hidden gem. Well, that’s true, but I think it’s so obvious that most people just cut through it and don’t walk it in its entirety. On one end is Les Hautes Promenades, a leafy green space with wide boulevards for walking and benches for sitting. At the centre is Square Cobert with a large lawn and a statue in the middle.
Continue in the opposite direction to a park called Basses promenades. This is a whimsical space full of outdoor activities like a giant swing, hammocks, and rope climbing amongst the tall trees. The walking path cuts through the middle making it a lovely view on either side. Small A-frame cedar huts resembling ski chalets you might find in the Alpes offer snacks to create an impromptu picnic.
Next, you’ll come upon Porte de Paris which leads you into Square de la Patte d’Oie. Porte de Paris is a large black iron gate that is a smaller version of the gates you find at Chateau Versailles built for King Louis XVI entry into Reims. This park, built in 1733, features ponds, a bandstand, and landscaped gardens. And on its edge is Cirque de Reims, a round building that was a former circus in 1865 and now houses a performing arts theatre. Don’t overlook this area as just another city park or green space. Now definitely wouldn’t you agree, just not simply a city park to cut through, but rather slowly stroll and take in all its glory.
Square Charles Sarazin
If you love quiet and beautiful places as much as I do, discover Square Charles Sarazin. It’s around the corner from the Vergeur Museum on a tiny street called rue Pluche. The little square is located in the remains of an old house, where only the ancient walls remain. In the centre of the grassy square is a fountain.
Pavillon de Muire
The Pavillon de Muire is a historic building in Reims from 1565. Although you can’t see the interior, it is worth walking by on rue Linguet to admire this Renaissance historic monument in Reims.
Rue de Tambour
If you love to stroll pretty streets, Reims is the city to do just that! One of my favourites was rue de Tambour. Each spring, the cobblestones of La rue de Tambour are painted in an array of colours making it a secret instagrammable spot for photos. On the corner is a cute flower shop, Centaurea, followed by a couple of amazing antique shops, so I had to stop in (and yes, buy something too!). If you are hungry, dine at the recommended restaurant, Le Riad.
Champagne Tours in Reims
Now for the reason why most people come to Reims…. the Champagne! The city features underground Gallo-Roman champagne cellars several kilometres long. Five of the champagne houses in Reims have been built within crayères (limestone mines) dug by the Gallo-Romans, who extracted the stone for building the walls that originally wrapped around the city centre. Here are just some of the recommended champagne houses to visit in Reims.
Of all the Champagne Houses in Reims, I opted for Taittinger. Champagne Taittinger is the only UNESCO World Heritage site cave in Reims so I just knew I needed to see it! The Benedictine monks were among the first to produce sparkling wines in the caves where Taittinger now stands since 1734.
If you love art and history, this is for you. Ruinart has the oldest cellars, which date all the way back to 1729. Not to mention, really cool bottles that were inspired by the original Champagne bottles.
Visit this champagne house that’s close to the city centre. This champagne house opened in 1827 and is one of the larger ones in Reims where there are close to 25 million bottles stored in their underground caves.
The Pommery Elizabethan-style estate was built in the 19th century by the lady of the house, Jeanne Pommery. She was the first to commercialize Brut Champagne. It’s one of the most architecturally stunning estates you can visit including its art collection.
The Champagne Vranken tour at the Villa Demoiselle is set in a beautiful Art Deco style from 1908. Visit the cellars, sip on some sparkling wine and enjoy a rotating art exhibition.
One of the largest and most famous Champagne houses in the world, and an international symbol of status. It does have higher prices for Champagne tours than other Champagne houses in Reims. And is also much more popular with tourists due to its recognizable name.
Best Guided Tours for Champagne Day Trips
Here are the recommended, most popular, and receive the best reviews from Get Your Guide tours. All tours need to be booked in advance and most Champagne Houses don’t accept walk-ins, especially during peak travel time.
- Exclusive Tour to Moet et Chandon & Taittinger. Taste the prestige wines of the Champagne region of France, including sparkling Taittinger and Moët & Chandon. Enjoy an 8-hour sightseeing tour of the historic town of Reims, Dom Perignon’s abbey in Hautvillers, and Avenue de Champagne in Épernay. Click here for more information.
- Full-Day Moët’s Vineyard & Family Winery Group Tour. Visit the cellars of one esteemed Champagne producer, Moët & Chandon on this day trip from Reims. See the UNESCO village of Hautvillers, savour an authentic lunch, and join a wine-tasting class. Click here for more information on this 9-hour tour.
- Taittinger Champagne Morning Tour & Tastings. Discover the magnificent coronation city of Reims on a pleasant morning tour for 4-hours. Drive through local vineyards and visit the world-recognized Taittinger Champagne House. Explore the cellars of a boutique family-run Champagne grower with tastings included. Click here for more information.
- E-Bike Champagne Tasting Tour and Lunch. Enjoy a full-day experience in the picturesque world of Champagne. Cycle through the best parts of the region and become a Champagne expert in one day. Taste some of the best Champagnes from family wineries and enjoy a delicious locally sourced lunch. Click here for more information on this 6-7 hour tour.
Guide to Reims Champagne
Where is Reims
Reims is located in the French department of Marne, on the northern edge of the Champagne wine region. Winemaking laws in Europe reserve the term “champagne” exclusively for the wines that come from this region. If they don’t, they are referred to as sparkling wine. Reims is only 130 kilometres northeast of Paris making this a popular day trip from Paris.
How to Get to Reims
Reims is central to many other European cities and countries. Most travellers arrive in Reims from Paris via the SNCF train direct to Reims. How far is Reims from Paris? Visit Reims in a short 45 minutes. But other cities like Lille, Strasbourg, Luxembourg, Frankfurt, and Brussels are also popular.
What are the best Day Trips from Paris to Reims
Take a day tour in a small or private group to discover the Champagne region. Visit a world-famous champagne house, such as Moët & Chandon or Taittinger and enjoy an authentic French lunch. Click here for more information.
Is Reims Worth Visiting
Reims is such a livable city. Within moments, of arriving I declared to myself, “I could live here”! It offers a wonderfully rich sense of history, arts, culture, and dining. Not to mention its pretty architecture and champagne houses. You immediately feel a sense of community and if you don’t have Reims on your radar, hopefully, you do now.
How Long to Stay in Reims
The ideal number of days to stay in Reims is 3. Many say that Paris to Reims is the ideal day trip. Yes, of course, it is. But, just for the day, you won’t be able to see it all, nor experience everything this city has to offer. Two nights in Reims allows you to have 2 full days. Better yet, you could make this your home base to explore more of the Champagne region, especially with many things to do in Epernay.
How to Pronounce Reims
My French is Ok. Meaning I get by. I easily exchange greetings, order food and drink, ask for directions and understand when they reply, but not good enough to carry on a conversation. To my embarrassment, I also thought I knew how to pronounce Reims (just hold the “s” is the rule)- but was I ever wrong!
Reims is actually pronounced raans or ranse. Yes, the “s” is not silent in this case. If you can roll your “r” from the back of your throat even better! Bon chance mon ami!
Where to Eat in Reims
There is no shortage of places to eat in Reims, and it’s no wonder it’s considered one of France’s gastronomic destinations. And of course, the champagne houses have influenced that. Famous in Reims are pink biscuits made by Maison Fossier for over 260 years. Other specialties known in Reims are gingerbread, Reims ham, vinegar and mustards, and pink lentils (which I tried and loved).
Where to Stay in Reims
- Les Berceaux de la Cathedrale – stay in the heart of Reims in this apartment/hotel with separate living and sleeping spaces and a kitchen – perfect for families
- Best Western Premier Hotel de la Paix – set in an elegant historic building that looks like a villa this is the best hotel experience with all the amenities
- La Caserne Chanzy Hotel & Spa – offers the best views of the Reims Cathedral and full spa services
- Center-Ville Cathedral – is a 3-bedroom townhouse with free parking
As a holidaymaker…
Hopefully, this guide to Reims with its top things to do help you plan your trip to Reims. I adored this city, a city steeped in history, beautiful architecture, parks, and yes, the champagne. It’s a city that checks so many boxes, and a great escape from Paris for a couple of days.