With its UNESCO World Heritage–listed monuments, lively student quarter, and a history dating back to 80 BC, Reims is among the most interesting cities in northern France. Today it’s best known for its booming Champagne industry and serves as the unofficial capital of the famous Champagne region.
At around two hours from Paris, many visitors opt to explore Reims on a day tour from the capital. Reims’ top attractions—including its massive Gothic cathedral, art and military museums, and historical market—are not to be missed before heading out into Champagne country. In fact, many visitors typically combine a city tour of Reims with Champagne tasting at one or more of the region’s wineries.
Reims is also a strategic starting point for Champagne tours, home to prestigious Champagne houses like Taittinger, Mumm, Veuve-Clicquot, and Pommery. Other popular inclusions on a full-day tour include the Champagne town of Épernay, home to the Moët & Chandon vineyards and cellars, and the village of Hautvillers, the former home of Champagne maverick Dom Pérignon. For a more personalized Champagne-tasting experience, opt for a small-group or private tour.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Reims is a must for lovers of incredibly charming French towns, history, and Champagne.
- The historic center of Reims is easy to get around on foot, but there is also an extensive tram system.
- Reims is renowned for its nightlife; most bars, live music venues, and nightclubs are found around Place Drouet-d’Erlon.
How to Get There
Reims is located in northeastern France, not far from the borders of Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. From Paris, it’s about a 2-hour drive or a 45-minute journey by high-speed train—the Reims-bound TGV departs from the Gare de l’Est.
When to Get There
The most popular time to visit Reims is during the summer months of July and August, when it’s recommended to book accommodations and tours well in advance. Other atmospheric times to visit are during the springtime Joan of Arc Festival (Les Fêtes Johanniques) and over the holiday season, when a Christmas village and festive markets set up in the city center.
A Walking Tour of Reims
Begin your Reims walking tour at Place Royale, with its imposing statue of Louis XV. From here it’s a short stroll to the city’s trio of UNESCO-listed monuments: the Abbey of Saint-Rémi (Basilique St-Rémi), the Palace of Tau (Palais du Tau), and the magnificent Cathedral of Notre Dame, whose construction began in 1211 and which once served as a royal coronation site. Be sure to admire the equestrian statue of Joan of Arc on Place Cardinal-Luçon before continuing along Boulevard Lundy, lined with grand 19th- and 20th-century mansions, including the Hôtel de Brimont. Loop around to admire the beautiful Town Hall and pay a visit to the Musée des Beaux Arts, then finish your walking tour at Place Drouet-d’Erlon, where many cafés and restaurants make a perfect spot for lunch.