Considered by many to be the capital of the Champagne region of France, Reims boasts the impressive Notre-Dame de Reims – the cathedral where the kings of France were crowned – as well as a plethora of historical monuments, castles, palaces and, of course, the finest Champagne houses in the world.
You have the option of either flying, driving or Eurostar. By air, you can fly straight into Reims-Champagne or the Reims-Prunay airports. The town is also located at a crossroads on the European motorway network between Paris and Strasbourg on the A4-E50 and between Calais, Troyes, Dijon and Lyon on the A26-E17. Alternatively, hop on the Eurostar from Waterloo to Paris and catch one of 12 daily connections from here to Reims.
Reims has everything from one- to five-star accommodation. If you’re planning a trip on a tighter budget, a double room in a one- or two-star hotel will cost about €40- €50 per night. But if you’re really trying to impress someone – perhaps on a Valentine’s jaunt to the area – then a four-star double will set you back about €150 for the night. The tourist board website (www.reims-tourisme.com) has information on accommodation.
Eating and drinking
Although the food is more than satisfactory in Reims, the real reason for coming to the area is for the world’s finest Champagne houses, or les grandes marques. The headquarters of Lanson, Mum, Ruinart, Louis Roederer, Piper-Heidsieck, Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin and many others are all local and most are open for tasting and tours by appointment. If you want to treat yourself to something special on the culinary side of things, then try out the Boyer-les-Crayeres on Henri-Vasnier street – regarded as one of the best restaurants in Reims, it is run by world famous chef Gerard Boyer.
Worth a look
Cathedral de Notre Dame Reims
The imperious cathedral in the centre of Reims is a masterpiece of 13th century Gothic architecture. As a reminder of the christening of Clovis, the cathedral was the showplace for 30 coronations. Adorned with more than 2300 statues, including the famous Smiling Angel, it is commonly regarded as an architectural gem.
Palais du Tau
The palace located next to the cathedral was built in 1690 as the official residence for the bishop of Reims. This remarkable building is home to hundreds of statues that once decorated the cathedral, as well as numerous holy relics including a 12th century chalice used at the communion of several French monarchs.
Salle de Reddition
For something a little different, why not visit this building on Rue de Franklin D Roosevelt? This building marks the site where the Germans surrendered to General Eisenhower on May 7, 1945. The walls of the rooms are still decorated with maps of the rail routes, just as they were on the day of surrender – spooky.