reims attractions

Things to do in Reims

Along with Epernay and Troyes, Reims is one of the top destinations in France’s cultural region of Champagne. But there is more to Reims (pronounced like the “rance” in France) than its famed sparkling wine. These are some of the best things to see and do in Reims.

Visit the Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Reims

The Cathedrale Notre-Dame in Reims is a UNESCO World Heritage site that dates back to the 13th century. This truly spectacular feat of Gothic architecture sits in the center of the town, attracting visitors from all over the world. Thankfully, it’s completely free to visit, which aside from saving you money also means there is never a line to enter. Inside, you can marvel at its massive nave and massive rose window along with its other stained glass splendors. The cathedral is also the former site of the coronation of kings of France, so you will be following the footsteps of important French historical figures including Louis XIV and Joan of Arc on your visit.

reims attractions

You can also opt to take a paid guided tour of the cathedral. This is included in the Reims Visitor Pass.

Tour the Palais du Tau (Musee des Sacres in 2025)

Reims became the site of the coronation of French kings since 496 when Clovis was baptized by Saint Remi at the Cathedral. The Palais du Tau is the residence of the Archbishop of Reims and the place where French kings stayed during the coronation. The Cathedral saw 33 French kings crowned and subsequently celebrated in a feast at the palace until 1825 after the French decided they no longer needed a monarchy. The palace, which is unfortunately still under renovation, is set to reopen in 2025 as the Musee des Sacres, which will explore the history of coronation in Reims.

See the place where World War II ended

things to do in reims
Fab5669, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love history, you might want to check out the Museum of the Surrender. This small museum is located on the actual site where the Nazis surrendered, ending World War II. The museum contains many historical artifacts from the time, including newspaper clippings, army uniforms, and war propaganda. You also get to see the room where the surrender took place, which has been frozen in time exactly as it was on the day. The museum also includes a 20-minute movie.

Tour the Fossier biscuit factory

The Fossier biscuit is a pink cookie that is meant to be dipped in champagne. The biscuits have been in production since the 1690s and were a big hit with French royalty like Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. If you want to enjoy a sweet bit of Reims’ history, you can tour the Fossier factory and taste these pink champagne biscuits yourself. If you happen to have the Reims pass, this attraction is also included.

Visit the champagne houses

reims tours

Of course, you really can’t visit Reims without partaking in some champagne tourism. In fact, that’s probably why you’re in Reims to begin with. Reims is home to some of the most well-known champagne houses in the region including Veuve Clicquot, Taittinger, Pommery, and Ruinart. As you’ll discover in more detail on a champagne tour, the massive chalk quarries that are used for champagne production and storage total more than 200 miles under the city of Reims. So as you can imagine, they currently house millions of bottles of champagne.

Since most of the champagne houses in Reims are not located on the vineyards that the champagne comes from, the tour will include a visit to these caves where the champagne is stored. It will also include a tasting of a selection of that particular house’s champagnes. Most of the tours are guided and only scheduled at particular times of the day. The exception is the self-guided tour at Vranken-Pommery, which includes the museum and the cellars, finishing off with a tasting.

things to do in reims

If you don’t have the time (or interest) to visit two or three of these in one day but still want to enjoy a variety of champagnes, you can usually still do a tasting without a tour at the café/gift shop/bar of many of the Reims champagne houses.

Reims Champagne travel tips

reims champagne
It’s like Wonka’s Chocolate Factory for adults.
  • You MUST pre-book champagne tours.

Since tours are limited and they’re not always in English, there are only so many available tour slots per day, especially at really popular champagne houses. For instance, if you want to visit Taittinger, tours are usually booked out at least a month in advance. Don’t wait to book your favorite or you risk missing out.

  • You may not always be getting the best deal on champagne

If you’re visiting from abroad, where French champagne is quite costly, you’d probably make the reasonable assumption that it would be cheaper to get the stuff right from the source. But you’d be wrong. Some of the champagne houses upcharge on their regular selection in the hopes that eager tourists will pay a premium. But it’s the same champagne whether it comes from the Veuve Clicquot visitor center or from your grocery store, so check prices online before you go through the hassle of transporting champagne you can buy cheaper at home.

  • Don’t discount the small champagne houses

Though some of the big names in Reims have grander maisons and cellars, you might get more personalized experience at some of the less internationally popular champagne houses. You’re probably also likely to get a good deal on champagne that is harder to come by where you’re from.

  • Dogs are not allowed on most champagne tours

For sanitary reasons, dogs are forbidden from visiting most of the champagne houses in Reims. But worry not, it’s still possible to visit Reims with a dog and enjoy all the champage. Read more about visiting Champagne with a dog here.

Reims is an easy day trip, but there is certainly enough to do around town to spread everything out over a couple of days. Or else, you’re looking at one very drunk day. Either way, bottoms up!


Leave a Reply

Discover more from GnomeTrotting

Subscribe now to keep reading and get access to the full archive.

Continue reading