Dabbling in Jet Lag
One day in Reims can be summed up in three words – champagne, coronations, and cathedrals. This charming town is part of the Champagne-Ardenne region of northeastern France, less than an hour from Paris. It’s the perfect day trip for anyone looking to indulge in history while sipping a glass of France’s finest wine. And if you’re visiting Paris in summer, one day in Reims is a must!
So, to help you plan your trip, I’ve put together the ultimate itinerary. This guide to spending one day in Reims includes famous sites like the Reims Cathedral, the Carnegie Library, and the Musée de la Reddition. But that’s not all! You’ll tour champagne houses and sample the best wines in the region. It’s a trip that will leave you amazed, impressed, and probably a little tipsy.
Table of Contents
- Map of Reims
- One Day in Reims Itinerary
- Where to Eat
- Where to Stay
- When to Visit
- How to Get to Reims from Paris
- Reims City Pass
- Frequently Asked Questions
Map of Reims
This map contains all the sites, attractions, and restaurants listed in this guide. Click on the map to open Google Maps.
One Day in Reims Itinerary
Below I’ve compiled the best things to do in Reims in one day. It’s a very packed itinerary. So, get ready to explore!
The city is small enough that you can visit everything on foot, but, if you prefer, there’s plenty of public transportation. It’s like the towns in Alsace, minus the half-timbered houses.
1. Marvel at the Reims Cathedral
Built in the 12th century, the Reims Cathedral (or the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims) is a masterpiece of stunning French Gothic architecture. It’s even considered one of the most beautiful churches in France!
At first glance, it’s easy to see why the kings of France were crowned here. The outside is adorned with intricate carvings that hold your gaze. Then, there’s the inside. The ceiling stretches to the heavens while the stained-glass windows bathe the altar in an ethereal light. And of all the magnificence, the rose windows are undoubtedly the most awe-inspiring.
In 1991, the Reims Cathedral was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. So, if there’s one thing you must see while in town, this is it.
Address: Place du Cardinal Luçon
2. Tour the Musée de la Reddition
Located in the former Allied headquarters, the Musée de la Reddition tells the story of the German surrender at the end of World War II.
You’ll wander through a museum filled with photographs, documents, uniforms, and war replicas. There’s even a short documentary film (offered in French and English).
But the most moving of all the exhibits is the infamous ‘map room.’
You enter through a small corridor. The walls, of which, are covered in the original Allied strategic maps. As you turn left, your eyes follow the maps eventually arriving to a narrow wooden table. It was at this very place that Nazi Germany surrendered on 07 May 1945.
To date, it’s my favorite museum in the country, and this is coming from someone who has been living in France for a long time!
- Wednesday – Monday: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm
- Closed Tuesday
Address: 12 Rue du Président Franklin Roosevelt
3. Gaze at La Porte de Mars
La Porte de Mars is one of four gates that served as an entrance to Reims during the Roman era. It dates to the third century and is said to be the widest arch ever built by the Romans.
This marvelous gate is at the northern entrance of the Les Hautes Promenades. So, if you’re spending one day in Reims, why not bring lunch, enjoy the scenery, and learn some history?
Address: Place de la République
4. Admire the Carnegie Library of Reims
The Carnegie Library of Reims is most noted for its Art Deco architecture. And, while the exterior has a modern feeling, the interior is rather cozy. The floors, walls, and bookcases are all made of wood. It actually looks like an old public library from the United States. Not only that but it has a whopping number of books. 400,000 to be exact!
Spend an hour wandering through the never-ending rows of books and admiring the beautiful architecture. You won’t be disappointed!
Address: 2 Place Carnegie
5. Visit Palais du Tau
The Palais du Tau is located in the former palace of the Bishop of Reims next to the Reims Cathedral. In the time of the French monarchy, it served as the banquet hall after the coronation ceremony. Today, it houses some of the most magnificent artifacts in French history. From tapestries to crowns, it’s an impressive collection, to say the least.
- Tuesday – Sunday, Closed Monday
- 6 May to 8 September: 9:30 am – 6:30 pm
- 9 September to 5 May: 9:45 am – 12:30 pm and 2:00 pm – 5:15 pm
Address: 2 Place du Cardinal Luçon
6. Shop at Place Drouet d’Erlon
If you love shopping, be sure to check out Place Drouet d’Erlon. This beautiful square is full of restaurants, bars, cafés, and shops. Then, in the center lies a statue topped with a golden Wing of Victory. Shop until you drop or enjoy the city unfold while enjoying an espresso on one of the many terraces.
Address: Place Drouet d’Erlon
7. Meander around Basilique Saint-Remi
It’s no secret that the Reims Cathedral is the main attraction, but Basilique Saint-Remi holds its own. Stone-carved statues on the outside of the church are nothing short of impressive. And the interior is just as beautiful. Here stained glass windows, dating back to the 12th century, light up the church. But that’s not all! Basilique Saint-Remi is where Saint Remi, himself, is buried.
As you walk around the church, detailed descriptions of the church’s history are offered in both French and English.
Address: Rue Saint-Julien
8. Explore the Musée Automobile Reims Champagne
For something a little different head to the Musée Automobile Reims Champagne.
This museum was opened in 1985 to display the car collection of Philippe Charbonneaux, a French automobile designer. But it has since grown to accommodate an even wider selection. Today, it holds not only some of the rarest cars in the world, but also racecars, motorcycles, and even some toy cars. It’s a unique experience, to say the least!
- Wednesday – Monday, Closed Tuesday
- 01 May to 31 October: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 6:00 pm
- 01 November to 30 April: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm and 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Address: 84 Avenue Georges Clemenceau
9. Wander the Musée-Hôtel Le Vergeur
Built in the 13th century, this once hotel, now, houses the work of Hugues Kraft. He was a French photographer from the 18th century who traveled the world taking photos and collecting souvenirs. But, over the years, the number of has increased, thanks to the support of various donors. One such donation included the etchings of Albrecht Dürer, a German artist from the late 14th century. You can visit the museum and the gardens, both of which come with a guide.
Useful Tip: If you don’t have time to take a tour of the museum, you can visit the gardens for free on your own.
Hours: Sunday – Saturday: 10:00 am – 12:00 and 2:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Address: 36 Place du Forum
10. Visit the Cryptoportique
Under the Forum square lies buried galleries called the cryptoportique or cryptoporticus. They date back to the first century and still remain intact. Archeologists suspect that they were most likely used as a covered market. But the exact use of these passageways remains a mystery. Tours are free and the galleries are open year-round.
Useful Tip: The Forum is in the center of Reims, but it’s easy to miss. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled!
Address: 6 Place du Forum
11. Admire Place Royale
This royale square features a statue of Louis XV surrounded by beautiful stone buildings. It was inaugurated in 1765 and has since become a historical monument. It won’t take you more than a few minutes to visit Place Royale. But you can meander around the square, take in the views then stop in one of the many nearby shops.
Address: 5 Place Royale
12. Tour a Champagne House
No trip to Reims is complete without sampling some champagne. After all, this is the region where it’s produced! There are tons of champagne houses spread across the city. They all offer visits that include a guided tour of their facilities and an overview of their production process. Then, at the end of the visit, you can sample three of their champagnes.
On average, tours cost €30 and last about an hour.
So, which ones should you visit?
Below are some of the best champagne houses to visit in Reims:
- Mercier – Book your tour here.
- Champagne Veuve Clicquot – Book your tour here.
- Moët and Chandon – Book your tour here.
Useful Tip: Champagne tours are very popular in Reims, so it’s best to book in advance.
13. Check Out the Foujita Chapel
The stunning Foujita Chapel is one of the most unsuspecting monuments in Reims. Built in 1966, this tiny chapel has a simple, less-than-impressive exterior. The inside, however, is anything but. Here magnificent murals painted by Tsuguharu Foujita, a Japanese artist, cover the walls of the church. Since he was a Catholic convert, most of the frescos depict religious scenes and figures from Catholicism.
If you’re looking for a truly unique experience, the Foujita Chapel should be at the top of your list.
Hours: The church is only open for visits from May to October.
Address: 33 Rue du Champ de Mars
Where to Eat
Reims is full of fantastic restaurants and there is no shortage of options. Below are a few favorites:
- Le Condorcet – An elegant brasserie with reasonable prices. They have a variety of dishes, including vegetarian options.
- L’Alambic – Traditional French food served with style. Make sure to save room for dessert, their Crème brûlée is the best in town.
- Harold Le Restaurant – A modern restaurant offering gourmet menus. But the true star of this show is their Sunday brunch. If you’re looking for something to do in Paris on Sunday, visit Reims and indulge in a delicious breakfast!
If you want to sample both Champagne and food from Reims, I highly recommend this tour.
Where to Stay
Reims has an abundance of hotels for a range of budgets. Below are a few options:
- Continental Hotel – Reims – Located in the center of Reims, this elegant hotel is a great place to stay. The staff is friendly and very helpful.
- Hôtel Centre Reims – Best Western – A chain hotel, but the best budget option if you want to stay in the center of Reims.
- Grand Hôtel des Templiers – Immaculate hotel with a delicious breakfast. It’s centrally located with spacious and comfortable rooms.
When to Visit
- January to March – These are the coldest months of the year. It’s often raining and cloudy. Most outdoor attractions are also closed.
- April to June – Late spring to early summer is a great time to visit Reims. The weather is perfect and the crowds have yet to arrive. Prices are also reasonable.
- July to August – This is one of the worst times to visit Reims. Crowds and prices are at their highest.
- September to November – Another great time to spend a day in Reims. The weather has cooled down and the summer crowds have dissipated. And, if you’re visiting in late October, you’ll be able to catch some wonderful fall colors.
- December – This is the best time to visit if you’re in France for the Christmas markets and Reims won’t disappoint.
How to Get to Reims from Paris
Trains run regularly from Paris to Reims and take about 50 minutes. The fastest trains leave from Gare de l’Est.
You can book and buy your train tickets online by clicking here.
Make sure to take the train to Reims and not to Champagne-Ardenne TGV. If you take the train to Champagne-Ardenne TGV, you will have to take another train to Reims. It will add 10-20 minutes to the trip.
Average Ticket Price from Gare de l’Est to Reims: €30
Information on Gare de l’Est in Paris:
- Address: Rue du 8 Mai 1945
- Metro Lines that Stop at Gare de l’Est: 4, 5, and 7
Reims City Pass
The Reims City Pass is another option that offers a bunch of discounts. It includes a select choice of guided tours, a transport pass, and a host of other cool things. Prices start at €20. You can purchase your 24-hour Reims City Pass by clicking here.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Reims Worth Visiting?
Reims is definitely worth visiting! The city is full of history, magnificent architecture, and fascinating museums. There is no shortage of things to do in Reims. It’s also a great addition to any eastern France itinerary. Plus, who can resist champagne?
Is Reims a walkable city?
Yes, Reims is a walkable city. The downtown area is very compact and most of the major attractions are not far from each other.
I explored the entire city on foot and found it very walkable. But if you need to use public transportation, buses and trams are available.
How much time do you need for Reims?
One day in Reims is the perfect amount of time. The city is small so it’s easy to see the main highlights as well as some unique attractions in one day. In fact, Reims is a great day trip from either Paris or Strasbourg.
Useful Tip: If you’re spending three days in Strasbourg, make sure to add Reims to your itinerary!
Which is better Reims or Rouen?
Reims and Rouen are both historic cities that are worth visiting. But if I had to choose one, I would pick Reims. It’s accessible from some of the most popular cities like Paris. Not only that but museums and attractions are phenomenal.
Is Champagne cheaper in Reims?
Champagne is not cheaper in Reims. But there is a way to save money. Many champagne houses have promotions. And, if you do a tour, they usually have a ‘buy six bottles get one free’ type of deal.
How is Reims pronounced in French?
Reims is pronounced “rance” in French. The “a” has a long nasally sound and the “ce” is said like an “s.” Another way to spell the pronunciation is “ra-s.”
Steeped in rich history and filled with jaw-dropping architecture, Reims is the perfect destination. The city is home to world-renowned museums and champagne, so what more can you ask for?
Spend the day touring cathedrals, indulging in history, and sipping some bubbly.
Make it a day trip or longer if you have more time. I recommend making a part of two week tour of the eastern part of France.
Either way, it’s guaranteed to be amazing. Make sure to use this guide to help plan your day in Reims!
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