Last Updated on 08/01/2022 by secretmoona
Reims is located in Champagne-Ardenne, in the Grand-Est region. Located just about 150 kilometres from Paris, Reims makes a great weekend break from the capital. Home to Champagne and Reims Cathedral, with numerous major attractions including 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Reims is a city to include in your France’s itinerary.
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Let’s be honest as the unofficial capital of Champagne; most people visit Reims for the bubbly drink. Whether you want to focus your visit on the famous drink or not, Reims is a great destination to explore. A day is not enough to see the extent of the city, but it’s a good start.
To help you plan your trip to the city, I have made a list of some of the must-do things and must-see attractions. They will help you build your itinerary no matter if you’re visiting Reims in 1, 2 or more days. Let’s start with the 15 best places to visit in Reims!
SEE & DO
Visit Cathedral of Reims
Start your day with a visit to Reims Cathedral, a must-see attraction. Built between the 13th and 14th centuries, the “Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims” is a stunning Gothic building.
I had no idea until I visited, Reims Cathedral was an essential part of history as the church housed the coronation of the kings of France for nearly a thousand years. The UNESCO World Heritage Site is impressive both on the outside and inside. the cathedral dominates the city. From the facade, you can admire its exceptional size (150m long) as well as the 2303 carved stone sculptures, including the Smiling Angel, which is also the city’s emblem.
While exploring inside the cathedral, you can learn all about the splendid coronation ceremonies in addition to the baptism of Clovis I (king of Franks). Thirty-three kings were crowned, such as Charles VII, who was escorted to Reims by Joan of Arc in 1429. If you visit the city in June, you will experience the Fêtes Johanniques, which commemorate the event each year.
You can also visit the Towers of Reims Cathedral by climbing the 249 steps of the north tower to enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Please note that the climb is only available during guided tours (8€ per person).
The Palace of Tau
Located next to Reims Cathedral, the Palace of Tau is also a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site. The palace owes its name as the building forms a T (tau in Greek). It was once home to the Archbishops of Reims and the place of residence of the kings of France waiting to be crowned.
The stunning building is now a museum displaying the treasures of Reims. It’s worth visiting if you love history, especially about the monarchy. You will find some of the cathedral’s original statues, items relating to the coronations of the kings. The entry fee is 8 € per adult.
Les Halles du Boulingrin
Whenever possible, I always try to go to the market in town when I visit. In Reims, the ideal place to shop and breathe in the scent of local delicacies is the covered market: Halles du Boulingrin. The market is open three times a week, and unfortunately, I visited the day it wasn’t open. Head to the Boulingrin Covered Market to fill your basket with regional delicacies such as Chaource and Langres cheese, bread, cakes, seasonal vegetables. It’s a must-visit if you like exploring markets, sampling the local produce while chatting to the producers.
Have lunch in the city centre
When you stay such a short time, the best is to have lunch in the city centre. Place Drouet d’Erlon is an excellent place for that since it is packed with eateries and restaurants of all kinds.
The pedestrian-friendly place is charming, especially on a warm afternoon or evening. It’s nice to sit, enjoy a drink or meal and watch the world go by.
Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus of Reims
As mentioned previously, Reims has relics from the Gallo-Roman period. Located on Place du Forum, opposite Musée Le Vergeur and a few minutes walk from the cathedral, is the Gallo-Roman Cryptoporticus. The underground galleries located under the square served as storage of grain and covered market for the Romans.
You can visit the historical monument for free but private guided tours are also possible. During the summertime, small events and performances are held.
Walk along the streets
Reims is lovely to explore on foot. After suffering from bombing during WWI, the city went into a restoration phase in the 1920S. Therefore, the city has lots of Art Deco style buildings to admire.
A way of discovering the diversity and originality of Reims architecture is by doing the Art Circuit. You can request a map and a 6 € audio guide from the Reims Tourist Office. During your stroll through the streets of Reims, let yourself wander and, more importantly, look up as the architecture is really appealing.
Amongst the buildings to see are the Carnegie library, the Saint-Nicaise Church or the Grand Théâtre.
Do not miss out on rue de Tambour, where the cobblestones have been painted with different colours, creating a form of street art that enchants passers-by. The street is considered to be the oldest street in Reims.
Porte de Mars
The Roman Empire played an important part in France’s history. You can find structures erected during the Roman period until these days. Just like in Lyon, where you can find the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, Reims is home to Porte de Mars, Cryptoporticus and Roman forum. Reims was a Gallo-Roman town known as Durocortorum.
The Roman triumphal arch was the widest in the Roman world. Built in the third century AD, the massive arch made of three arches ( 32 metres long and 13 metres high) still stands. It is located in the Place de la République.
Relax in a coffee shop
During my travels, I love wandering the streets. While doing so, I always come across lovely coffee shops. I stumbled upon J’Aime Thé Café and stopped by to recharge my batteries and benefit from their wifi. J’Aime Thé Café is a must-visit while in Reims whether you are looking to enjoy an excellent espresso or a nice cup of tea.
Plus, the atmosphere is relaxed, including good wifi. Be sure to head there for a little “pause café”.
Visit a Champagne House
To finish your day in Reims, why not visit a Champagne producer? After all, Reims is the capital of the Champagne region. Visiting the cellars and Champagne houses is a must-do if you love wine.
The good thing is that many of the big names are located right in the heart of Reims. They all open their house to visit their cellars, including various tasting options for their champagnes.
You can either have a tasting with the champagne producers’ shops in Reims or vineyards if you have more time. Many of the winegrowers in the surrounding villages will have tours where visitors visit their cellars and taste their wines and champagnes.
This attraction is a little away from the city centre. Still, it is worth adding to your itinerary, especially if you stay more than a day. Saint-Remi Basilica, built in the 11th century, is where the relics of Archbishop Saint Remi, who converted Clovis I to Christianity, rest. The basilica was destroyed during the First World War. After visiting the basilica, head to the Saint Remi Museum (another UNESCO World Heritage Site).
Where to stay in Reims
I decided to visit Reims following my trip to Strasbourg and Colmar. I stayed at Holiday Inn Reims. I chose this hotel because it is part of the IHG Group, and I have always had excellent service from the brand. Additionally, the hotel is less than a 10-minute walk from the train station, ideal when you have limited time in the city.
The hotel was central to all the attractions I have mentioned above.
How to get to Reims
The best way to get to Reims is by train. The city is well-deserved with two stations: Reims-Centre and Champagne-Ardenne TGV. The first station is located in the city centre while the second is allocated a little away in Bezannes. However, you can take a tram to reach the city quickly.
You can get to Reims in about an hour from Paris and as cheap as 10 euros on OUIGO or 20 euros on TGV.
You can also choose the best option with Flixbus or rent a car to explore the Champagne region.
The city of Reims has a very extensive public transport network: tram, bus, city bus (100% electric bus). The ticket price varies from €1.60 for a single journey to €12.60 for ten tickets. If you are visiting for a short time, you can explore the city easily on foot.
However, if you are staying a little longer or planning to visit the surrounding areas, then hiring a car is the most sensible opinion.
To help you prepare for your trip, visit the Reims Tourist Office.
Enjoyed reading about the best things to do in Reims? Pin this article now, read it again later. Have you been to Reims or planning to? Do you have any recommendations you would like to share?