Situated in north-eastern France in the heart of the Champagne region, Reims sparkles as a tourist destination as much as its famous wine! Archaeological remains attest to a Roman heritage, while the name Reims probably derives from the Remi - even more ancient settlers who occupied this fertile corner of France in the 1st century BC. In AD 486, the first king of the franks, Clovis I, was baptised in Reims. The city henceforth took on symbolic significance and a millennium of coronations followed, by the 13th century these were taking place in the city's Gothic Cathedrale de Notre Dame. Badly damaged in the First World War, Reims was lovingly restored and rebuilt over the decades. Bombed again in the Second World War, the city's beautiful buildings once again bore the brunt of the damage, but there was one consolation – it was in a Reims schoolhouse that the surrender of the Axis Powers was signed and sealed in 1945, finally bringing an end to the destruction.

The modern city is home to 200,000 people, of whom a staggering 30,000 are employed in the production of champagne. Reims' bakers are almost as renowned as the vintners - over 300 years ago they came up with a way of utilising left over heat after baking bread. The result was a twice-baked sweet delicacy - the 'bis-cuit'. Make sure you nibble on one to enhance the bubbly pleasure of champagne tasting!


The Cathedrale Notre Dame was built in the 13th century and despite being badly damaged during WWI, is well worth a visit. As well as the world famous “twin towers” and some fine Gothic architecture, the cathedral has a beautiful great rose window.

Next door lies the Tau Palace, a typically imposing example of French Renaissance architecture which was formerly the Archbishop's Palace. Nowadays it houses an excellent museum packed with sculpture, tapestries and religious artefacts. Unless you've really had your fill of churches, head next to the Basilique Saint-Remi. Constructed in the 11th century, it is packed with interesting details including a 96-candle chandelier – one for every year of St. Remi's mortal life. Adjacent lies the Musee Saint Remi, a museum of history and archaeology with displays charting Reims' prehistory and more recent past.

Not far from the railway station lies the former Modern Technical School of Reims. It was in this unassuming building that the Allied Forces negotiated the end of the Second World War on Monday 7 May 1945. The “Surrender Room” has been designated as a historic monument and is a poignant place to visit for those involved or interested in this dark period of European history.

You can't leave Reims without visiting at least one of the Champagne producing houses. There are around ten which are open to the public, and the most famous are household names like Mumm and Piper-Heidseck. A dusty tour of the cellars, known as caves in French, is usually followed by a tasting session...and the opportunity to buy some bottles to take home!


Reims has plenty of shops, from large department stores to small craft boutiques. There is a huge range of champagne-related souvenirs on offer! From pink biscuits de Reims to cork-shaped chocolates, there's no getting away from the fizz. And after choosing a few cases of champagne to take home, you can head for Gravure Champenoise on Rue de Solférino, where you can have your name engraved on a champagne flute or a bottle.

Nightlife and Eating Out

Central Reims has no shortage of eateries. Try the refined Restaurant Au Congrès for superlative French cuisine. For a taste of the sea, eat at P'tit Rafiot – it may be more Breton than Champenois but the fish dishes are fantastic. Many restaurants serve up local specialities – pate, wild mushrooms, game stews and other hearty fare are trademarks of this region of wooded hills and farms. If you are on a budget, fill up at lunchtime in a bistro or head for a pizzeria. A good value choice is Pizza Pasta Del Arte.

After an afternoon in the beautiful, Art Deco Cafe du Palais, you may not want to look elsewhere for entertainment – the champagne list is as impressive as the wonderful service! There are bars dotted around the centre, and popular late-night hangouts include the swanky Soa Club on Rue Lesage and The Factory on avenue de Paris. Neither club will burst your eardrums – a low-key, low-decibel lounge atmosphere is the order of the day.

Tourist Information

Guillaume de Machault streetReimsPhone : 33 (0)3 26 77 45 00. Telephone : 33 (0)3 26 77 45 19.E-mail : TourismReims@netvia.comWeb: Reims


Reims Champagne airport was closed to public air traffic at the time of writing (Autumn 2006). The nearest airports to Reims are Paris Charles de Gaulle and Paris Orly. Regular flights connect Paris with London and UK regional airports. BA, Air France and BMI operate over a dozen daily flights and you can find cheap fares with EasyJet and some of the smaller budget airlines. You can reach Reims from Paris by train or drive the 150km on good motorways. Either way, the journey should take around 90 minutes.

All car hire locations in France