The beautiful city of Reims is located in the Champagne region of France. It is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and, of course, its world-renowned champagne. Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or a lover of all things bubbly, there’s something for everyone in Reims.
From exploring the city’s stunning Gothic cathedral to exploring its many outstanding restaurants to sipping champagne at one of its many champagne houses, Reims offers visitors a unique and unforgettable experience.
Things to do in Reims Champagne
Table of Contents
- Things to do in Reims Champagne
- 1. Visit a Champagne House
- 2. Visit the extraordinary Reims Cathedral
- 3. Boulingrin Covered Market
- 4. Palais Du Tau
- 5. Reims Champagne Automobile Museum
- 6. Abbey of Saint-Remi
- 7. Go Shopping
- 8. Enjoy a Pink Biscuit of Reims
- 9. See where World War Two ended
- 10. Enjoy the Outstanding Gastronomy
- Things to do near Reims:
- 11. Lighthouse of Verzenay
- 12. Visit a Champagne Village or three
- 13. Take a day trip to Lovely Epernay
- Where to Stay in Reims
- How to Get to Reims and How to Get Around
1. Visit a Champagne House
Let’s start with the most obvious thing you must do when in Reims Champagne – visit a champagne house. A champagne house is the equivalent of a winery for champagne makers. There are many champagne houses across the region, and several of the best-known brands have houses within Reims’ city limits:
- Veuve Clicquot
- GH Martel
- Charles de Cazanove
- GH Mumm
Most champagne houses are about a brisk 20-minute walk from the old town city center. Six houses are located near the Saint-Remi Basilica if you want to combine a couple of visits.
The houses offer a mix of tasting and/or cellar tour options. Tastings may be from specific vintages, just rose, a range of styles, or combined with food. The cellar tours are just as they sound and usually explain the house’s history and their method of making champagne.
Do note the cellars can be extremely beautiful and atmospheric and often worth visiting in their own right. But of course, you couldn’t go to a cellar and not attend a tasting!
When I visited Reims, I went on a cellar tour and tasting at Lanson, one of the oldest champagne houses in the region. A time corridor takes visitors through some of Lanson’s highlights, from Napoleon spending the night at the estate to a royal warrant from Queen Victoria, which has been in place since 1900.
The tour covers some actual vines on the property, the stainless steel tanks containing current first fermentations, the barrel room and, best of all, the stunning cellars.
The cellars cover an area of 7 kilometers and contain 25 million bottles of champagne kept at 90% humidity. They are very atmospheric (and photogenic) with their golden glow. There is even a Paradis Lanson in the cellars, which contains their best champagnes.
Then, of course, it was upstairs to the light, bright tasting room where we enjoyed some generous pours of four different Lanson champagnes, all of which were excellent.
In summer, comfortable deck chairs and tables are set up on the lawn outside Lanson, a perfect place for enjoying some of their delicious champagne.
2. Visit the extraordinary Reims Cathedral
This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and one of the most stunning churches I have ever visited. It was the site of the coronation of many French kings, including Charles VII and Louis XVI.
Built in the 13th century, the cathedral hosted the coronation ceremonies for 25 French kings. The stained glass windows are extraordinary (some were designed by the famous French artist Marc Chagall) and a don’t miss while in Reims.
3. Boulingrin Covered Market
This Art Deco historical monument was built in 1927 by Emile Maigrot and Eugène Freyssinet following an architecture competition. After closing in 1988, it was renovated and restored in 2012.
You’ll find local specialties, produce, fish, meats, cheeses, and flowers at the market. It also regularly holds events.
Opening times are limited. The market is open on Wednesdays from 7:00 to 1300, Fridays from 7:00 to 13:00 and 16:00 to 20:00 and Saturdays from 6:00 to 14:00.
4. Palais Du Tau
The Palais du Tau was once the residence of the archbishops of Reims and is now a museum. It was also the Reims’ home of the King of France during his coronation. It contains many treasures from the cathedral, including the coronation robes of French kings.
5. Reims Champagne Automobile Museum
Home to nearly 250 vehicles, this museum is dedicated to the development of the automobile in the 20th century. There are racing cars, motorcycles and many limited edition models.
6. Abbey of Saint-Remi
Another UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Abbey of Saint-Remi was once one of the most important monasteries in France. It is now a museum with 17 rooms housing a range of collections. The Abbey is next door to Saint-Remi Basilica, which contains the remains of Saint Remi, the patron saint of Reims.
7. Go Shopping
Reims is a bustling city with lots of interesting independent shops. Boulevard Lundy is the main shopping street in town and visit the pedestrian square Place d’Erlon. Deleans have been making chocolate in Reims since 1874. Don’t miss their champagne cork-shaped chocolates with their bubbly interiors (a great gift).
8. Enjoy a Pink Biscuit of Reims
Founded in 1756, Maison Fossier is the oldest biscuit factory in France. Its biscuits were eaten in the royal courts of France. They are best known for their light and crunchy finger-shaped pink biscuits. Unsurprisingly they pair well with a glass of champagne.
9. See where World War Two ended
The Museum of the Surrender is located in the schoolhouse where the Germans surrendered to the Allies in 1945. The building was General Eisenhower’s headquarters at the time. The room where the surrender was signed is still intact and can be visited. The museum also contains many artifacts from the end of World War II.
10. Enjoy the Outstanding Gastronomy
Reims is home to six restaurants with Michelin stars (at the time of writing):
- Assiette Champenoise (3 Michelin Stars!)
- Le Parc at Les Crayeres
- Le Foch
- Le Grand Cerf
- Le Royal
The standard of cooking in Reims is very high, with many restaurants that have had Michelin stars, may be about to receive Michelin stars, or have a chef who has received a Michelin star.
I had a wonderful tasting dinner (with bubbles of course) at the wonderfully named Elbows on the Table. They also have a great bar. I enjoyed a fantastic steak and out-of-this-world caramel profiteroles at Brasserie du Boulingrin.
L’Apostrophe is on Reims’ main street and has a lovely outdoor seating area. this is a great place to eat lunch and drink champagne. I had some fantastic salmon tartare to offset all the other rich French food I had been eating!
I received some great recommendations for restaurants in Reims. Here are some of the restaurants I didn’t have time to visit. If you go, please drop me a note and let me know your thoughts.
- Version Originale (French with Asian influences)
- Au Petit Comptoir (Fine Dining)
- Brasserie Excelsior (Classic Frenc Brasserie)
- Le Jamin (Classic French)
- Restaurant Continental
- La Tabla Anna
Even with so many fabulous restaurants, booking meals in Reims and Epernay is important. The best restaurants are often booked out. Expect to book considerably in advance for any of the Michelin star options.
Things to do near Reims:
11. Lighthouse of Verzenay
This vine museum uses a high-tech system to teach visitors about every step of the champagne-making process. The lighthouse offers fantastic views over the vineyards and a panoramic garden. Plus of course, a tasting area! The Lighthouse of Verzenay is about 18 kilometers from Reims.
12. Visit a Champagne Village or three
The Echelles des Crus system (Ladder of Growth) was devised in 1920 to create a more fair and economic system for the producers of Champagne. Crus were appointed for villages rather than vineyards or estates.
The top level is Grand Cru, and there are just 17 villages in Champagne with this title. Level two is Premier Cru, and there are 43 villages with this designation. Finally, there are 264 “Autre” or other villages.
In addition to visiting at least one traditional/famous champagne house, I highly recommend going a bit off the beaten track and visiting some of the actual champagne villages. Once there, of course, you will visit one of the local producers for a tasting.
I visited the lovely Grand Cru village of Bouzy. This very cute little town is fully integrated, which means they grow and use their own grapes. Their Grand Cru status is based on the terroir of their vineyards. They have Grand Cru status for Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.
I visited the artisanal producer Champagne Delavenne in Bouzy. This champagne house started in 1920 and is still quite small. They are their own hand-dug cellar 8 meters underground. Delavenne tends to produce what they call dual vintage champagne.
This means they only put two consecutive harvest years in the bottle (Vintage Champagne has grapes from only one harvest year, non-vintage can contain grapes from any number of years).
Delavenne makes its dosage in-house and uses indigenous yeast in its first fermentation. The house follows biodynamic principles and uses as many natural products as possible. They don’t do a malolactic conversion, so if you like your bubbles more fresh and acidic, this is the champagne house for you to visit!
Contact Champagne Delavenne directly to organise a tasting.
Champagne Roger-Constant Lemaire has been making champagne since 1860. Located in the village of Villers Sous Chatillon, it is classified as one of the “autre” or other villages of Champagne.
What makes Lemaire quite unique is what it doesn’t do. It does not do malolactic fermentation (90% of Champagne Houses do), it does not use fining agents and it does not use filtration. This makes for a very natural and fresh champagne.
They also believe that this also makes their wine a better candidate for improving with age. They age their champagnes for between 4 and 10 years.
This Champagne House is also in the process of converting to organic status. They stopped using pesticides, acaricides, herbicides, and chemical fertilizers in 2001.
This was the most fun Champagne House tour I did whilst in the region, mostly because of the humor and passion of our tour guide who was also one of the owners.
Contact Champagne Roger-Constant Lemaire directly to organise a tasting.
Champagne P Brugnon is located in a Premier Cru village, Rilly La Montagne, about 10 kilometres from Reims. Rilly is one of the oldest champagne wine-growing villages in the region. They are able to trace champagne making in town back to the 15th century.
Whilst this was perhaps aesthetically the least pleasing of all the Champagne Houses I visited, it is where I bought the most champagne (and I very much enjoyed it when I drank it at home).
Champagne P Brugnon is also the place to go if you would like to try sabrage. Sabrage involves opening a bottle of champagne using a saber eg a knife. I highly recommend giving this a try.
Contact Champagne P Brugnon directly to organise your tasting and/or sabrage.
13. Take a day trip to Lovely Epernay
Epernay is known as the “Capital of Champagne” and is only a 30-minute train ride from Reims. I highly recommend it as a day trip from Reims. It is a very cute little town with some great restaurants but best of all it is home to Champagne Avenue. Yes, there really is a street called Champagne Avenue and even better, it is filled with Champagne Houses that you can visit!
The one-kilometer-long Champagne Avenue is home to the following Champagne Houses:
It is a beautiful street. I highly recommend taking a walk down Champagne Avenue. It isn’t necessary to visit all the houses, but many will allow you to come in and buy a glass without a tour.
The courtyard at Moet et Chandon is worth a visit as it is home to a statue of Dom Perignon. Perrier-Jouet has a beautiful cafe/bar in its courtyard, which is well worth a visit.
Like Reims, Epernay has a very high standard when it comes to gastronomy. When I visited, I enjoyed a fantastic lunch at L’Oben. This is a classic French brasserie and I enjoyed an outstanding farmhouse chicken of Champagne!
I also received several other restaurant recommendations for Epernay that I didn’t manage to visit. Do let me know if you visit and what you think:
- La Table Kohrs
- Les Bercaux
- Le Theatre
- Le Sardaigne (a French Italian Pizzeria)
- Le Grillade Gourmande
- Chez Max
Epernay is also home to a stunning church and Ballon D’Epernay. The balloon is tethered not far from Epernay city center. It does fly, subject to weather conditions, offering fantastic views of the fields of Champagne. And, of course, it is possible to enjoy a flute of champagne during your flight.
Where to Stay in Reims
I must be honest. I generally turn my nose up if I hear a hotel is Best Western, even if the word Premier is at the end. I want to stay at cute little boutique hotels. So I was surprised to be so pleased with the lovely Hotel de la Paix. This four-star hotel is both chic and comfortable, as far as you can get from the cliched view of a Best Western hotel.
The location is perfect. Hotel de la Paix is a ten-minute walk from the station, a two-minute walk from Reims Cathedral and right in the heart of Reim’s old town.
For a hotel with over 160 rooms, it certainly has more of a boutique feel. The rooms are a generous size and the fixtures and fittings feel high-end. The design is simple and contemporary, with a few splashes of color.
The rooms make excellent use of space. I was particularly delighted with the little couch and table. The bathroom is contemporary with slate grey tiles and a large walk-in shower.
Breakfast was a large tasty buffet with loads of fresh pastries and baguettes. I was also pleased to see smoked salmon on offer.
One of the highlights of Hotel de la Paix is its beautiful courtyard. The hotel has its own interior courtyard and it is possible to eat breakfast out here or, even better, sip some champagne from the hotel’s excellent Bar La Paix.
The hotel also has an indoor heated swimming pool, spa, sauna, fitness center, and a traditional French brasserie. It is great value for money and the location cannot be beaten.
Another nice 4-star hotel option in Reims is Grand Hotel Des Templiers. If you prefer traditional architecture and interior design to the more modern Hotel de la Paix, then this may be the hotel for you. They also have an indoor swimming pool.
If you’re looking for a more decadent option for your time in Reims, check out Domaine les Crayères (their restaurant has a Michelin star).
How to Get to Reims and How to Get Around
It couldn’t be easier to get from Paris to Reims. The train journey on the TGV takes just 45 minutes, and runs quite regularly from Gare D’Est. Regular trains from other major French cities like Lille and Strasbourg also exist.
The nearest major airport to Reims is Charles De Gaulle in Paris (150 kilometers away).
Reims train station is located in the city center. It was less than a 10-minute walk from the station to the Hotel de la Paix. There is no need for a car in Reims as it is very walkable. The champagne houses are a longer walk or hop in a ride share.
I visited Champagne with the fantastic Criterion Tours. This specialty wine tour company runs an annual trip to Champagne, usually in the summer. The trip runs in and out of London, or you can meet them in Reims. The owner, Christos, has been to Champagne more times than he can count.
He mixes up the trip each year with different small producers. And all the restaurant recommendations here are from him. He also runs some other fantastic wine tours if you’re interested.
From the stunning architecture of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims to the delicious tastings at the many Champagne Houses, Reims is a wonderful city and perfect for a delicious long weekend!