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Things to Do in Reims

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. 

The Basics
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. 
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Reims Cathedral of Notre Dame (Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims)
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Notre-Dame de Reims is known as the seat of the region’s archdiocese and also the location of coronations for kings of France. Built on the former site of a church that was destroyed by fire in 1211, the impressive portals, statues and spires of Notre Dame have become one of the most popular attractions in Reims.

After taking in the chevet’s ornate exterior and Notre Dame’s famous rose window, travelers can venture indoors where colorful stained glass dating back to the 13th and 20th centuries decorates the nave and altar. A vast collection of tapestries, including a series representing the life of the Virgin Mary, is also on display, and the church’s treasury, dating back some 800 years, showcases rare artifacts like a holy flask broken during the French Revolution.

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Pommery Champagne (Domaine Pommery)
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Founded in 1858 by Alexandre Louis Pommery and Narcisse Greno, Champagne Pommery was at one time better known for its wool trading than for its bubbly. Today, however, this massive house is one of the Champagne region’s largest producers of the popular celebratory beverage and a destination for travelers seeking to sample sparkling glasses in the same setting where it’s produced.

Visitors can tour the network of chalk pits that sits beneath the city of Reims, where more than 20 million bottles of champagne are stored in a natural temperature-controlled environment. Guided tours include a trip around the grounds, a visit to the cellars and a detailed explanation of how this favorite beverage is produced, bottled and distributed.

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House of Mumm (Maison Mumm)
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In 1827, three German brothers brought their experience of producing and merchandising wine to the Champagne region. Jacobus, Gottlieb and Phillip Mumm founded the House of Mumm, and set about producing some of the most well-regarded and celebrated champagnes in the world.

In 1852, the business was taken over by Georges Hermann Mumm, and under his direction, the winery was producing over 3 million bottles of champagne a year. In the 1920s, a Parisian lawyer named Rene LaLou became president, and for the next 50 years, Mumm champagnes greatly increased the house's output while maintaining the quality of the product set a century before. A period of malaise and lackluster vintages followed his death, but in the 1990s, technological innovations and tinkering with the grape compositions ensured that the legendary excellence of Mumm champagnes was here to stay.

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