The city of Reims is also the home of luxury champagne houses and is one of the most well-known cities in the champagne region. Along with the infamous vineyards of Champagne, there are numerous points of interest and a total of 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites. Reims is not just known for its champagne tasting!
Getting to Reims in the Champagne Region
Getting to Reims is easy. You can book a day trip from Paris which will bring you out to Reims by coach. These tours usually include a champagne tasting as a champagne house such as Taittinger or Moet. Plus a walk around some of the other sights of Reims and a delicious French Bistro Lunch.
Alternatively, you can drive yourself and stay in the city for a few days to explore properly. Parking can be difficult if you are staying in the city as it is an old town, but if you book a hotel with car parking, you should be fine. The drive from Paris will only take one and a half hours, depending on traffic.
The train also operates from the centre of Paris to Reims and is a great way to explore the champagne region for travellers without cars. The train only takes 45minutes each way, and offer pretty views as you travel.
Where to stay
If you do decide to visit Reims and stay a few days, there are plenty of options in the centre of Reims.
The Best Western Premier Hotel De La Paix cannot be beaten for location and value for money. It’s right in the centre of the town allowing you to walk around easily and explore the cafes, restaurants and the Unesco sites. The swimming pool and sauna add an extra touch when you come back to the hotel after a long day of sightseeing.
For a special occasion, you might prefer to book a chateau in the surrounding countryside. Domaine Les Crayères is a luxury 5-star chateau (actually the only one in Reims!) that is only 300m from the Pommery champagne house.
Other things to see in Reims
There is more to Reims than Champagne tasting of course.
- Reims Cathedral. It’s highly debatable, but many people believe the Notre Dame in Reims is superior to the Notre Dame in Paris! The only way to be sure for yourself is to see it.
- The Palais du Tau. The world heritage listed museum contains the treasure of Notre-Dame de Reims cathedral.
- The former Saint-Remi abbey. Another UNESCO site that history buffs will enjoy wandering around and looking at. The Museum and Basilica retraces the history of Reims from prehistory to the two world wars.
- The Saint-Nicaise hill. The final UNESCO site, and perhaps the most important to anyone who likes to drink champagne! While it is the hill that is listed, it’s what’s underneath it that really matters. You see, this is where champagne is stored and kept until it is ready to be sold. The basements keep the production of six major champagne houses protected from light and at a constant temperature (10°): Charles-Heidsieck, Ruinart, Pommery, Veuve Clicquot, Martel and Taittinger.
Champagne Tasting in Reims
On to the champagne tasting tours! After all, it’s likely the main reason you are visiting Reims.
Each Champagne house runs its own tours and champagne tastings on site. If you have your favourite champagne brand already, then I would suggest booking your tour with them.
Of course, if you aren’t sure about champagne and just want to sample some, like I was, then you will be happy to hear that all of the champagne tours include an optional tasting.
And, if you REALLY want to get your tastebuds in a flurry there is even a champagne tour that covers all FOUR of the main champagne houses!
Taittinger Champagne Tour
The Taittinger champagne tour is a must-do! If you book a tour your will be able to not only visit the cellars of the world recognized Taittinger Champagne House but also the vineyards outside Reims. It adds something special when you learn about grape production and viniculture while you are there before coming into the cellars and learning about the fermentation process of champagne.
If you are doing this as a self-tour and you are already in Reims, you can just book your entry time with Taittinger and visit the cellar in the city.
Allow two and half hours for the cellar tour. First, you will meet in the lobby of the Taittinger building and learn some of the basics and history of the Taittinger brand before walking down the narrow stone steps to the Taittinger cellars.
It can be cold down there, so please bring a sweater, even if it is hot outside!
As you walk through the cellar, the guide will explain the processes for making champagne, how it came to be and the history of UNESCO champagne cellars.
Champagne tasting in Reims is why most people visit, and while the information they give about the production of champagne is interesting, some of us just want to taste the champagne for ourselves!
Finally, in the end, you are given your 3 glasses of Taittinger champagne to taste.
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