Just 90 miles northeast and a short train ride from Paris, you’ll find Reims, France. Nicknamed the Coronation City, Reims has played a vital role throughout French history for over 2000 years.
With its location at the northern edge of the Champagne wine region, Reims is the place to go for the finest French Champagnes. The most famous and world-renowned Champagne houses call Reims home. Many still use the same chalk caverns initially discovered by the Romans 2000 years ago.
Yet, this historic city is surprisingly easy to get around. Practically all the best places to visit in Reims are a short walk from the city center.
Enjoy the diverse mix of Art Deco and Neo-classical French architecture as you stroll along the cobblestone streets. Not up for the walk? The city also boasts an excellent public transportation system of buses and trams.
And did you know that Reims played an important role in the French monarchy? Practically every French king was crowned in Reims, from Clovis I in 496 to Charles X in 1825.
This is Reims, the Coronation City, and it’s a must-see stop on any visit to Northern France. If a visit to Reims is in your future, you’ll definitely want to know the absolute best places to go, things to do, and sights to see. And today, that’s what we’re going to show you.
We’ve got the best things to do in Reims and the Champagne region that will enhance any vacation and make your next visit to France a trip you’ll never forget. Now without further ado, these are the best things to do in Reims, France.
- Most significant landmark – Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
- Best park – Parc de Champagne
- Best free activity – Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
- Best activity for kids – Planetarium De Reims
- Best activity for adults – Champagne Tasting Tour
- Best food – Le Petit Basque
- Best nightlife – Au Fût et à mesure Reims
- Best all-around accommodation – Best Western Premier Hotel de la Paix
Fun & Best Things to Do in Reims, France
1. Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims (Reims Cathedral)
Address: Pl. du Cardinal Luçon, 51100 Reims, France
At the top of our list of tourist attractions, Reims Cathedral boasts incredibly sculpted facades, historic statues, and an impressive frieze depicting the battle between David and Goliath above the rose window. Unfortunately, most of the original stained glass windows were heavily damaged during WWI. However, you’ll discover contemporary stained glass by Marc Chagall and Imi Knoebel among the replacement windows.
The original cathedral site was founded in the 5th century by Bishop Nicasius. Construction on the present-day cathedral was started in the late 13th century and completed by the middle of the 14th century.
In 496 AD, Saint Remi baptized Clovis I here, beginning a long tradition of royal coronations in Reims. Since 1027, only two French kings haven’t been crowned here – Charles VI in 1108 and Henri IV in 1594.
Can you spot the Smiling Angel on the west facade? This 13th-century figure lost its head during a German bombing in 1914. Nevertheless, it served as an anti-German propaganda piece throughout France until the war’s end. Apart from Chartres, Reims Cathedral boasts more sculpted figures on its facade than any other European cathedral.
The best way to learn about this historic site, its statues, and stained-glass windows is through a 1.5-hour guided tour with a licensed tour guide. Reims Cathedral was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991 and is an excellent example of High Gothic architecture.
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2. Palais du Tau (Palace of Tau)
Address: 2 Pl. du Cardinal Luçon, 51100 Reims, France
Next to Reims Cathedral, you’ll find the Palace of Tau. This palace served as the residence of French kings before their coronations and hosted the celebratory banquet afterward. The first recorded coronation banquet was held in 990, and the last in 1825.
Since 1972, the palace has hosted the Musée de l’Œuvre. The museum displays statuary and tapestries from the cathedral, relics from the cathedral treasury, and other artifacts associated with royal coronations.
Some of the most notable pieces in the collection are: Charlemagne’s 9th-century talisman, which supposedly contains a portion of the one True Cross; the Coronation Chalice, which dates from the 12th century; and the Statue of Abraham, dated 1215.
And the collection even includes the Holy Ampulla, which contains the anointing oil used at every French coronation from Louis VII in 1131 to Louis XVI in 1774.
The Palace of Tau is part of the Reims Cathedral World Heritage Site and attracts around 1.5 million visitors yearly. It is a must-see destination for any true Francophile.
For a comfortable stay nearby, the Best Western Premier Hotel de la Paix is a 10-minute walk away. And for some evening drinks and late-night eats, we recommend the nearby beer hall Au Fût et à mesure Reims.
3. Basilique Saint-Remi (Saint-Remi Basilica)
Address: Rue Saint-Julien, 51100 Reims, France
The Basilica of Saint-Remi is just a 30-minute walk from the town center along Rue Gambetta. This medieval abbey church was founded in the 11th century on the burial site of St. Remi. Inside the Saint-Remi Basilica, you will find many historical relics from the life of this patron saint of Reims.
Pope Leo IX consecrated the basilica in 1049, and it was then built in stages over the next 400 years. Strolling through this impressive abbey, you’ll discover Romanesque and Gothic architectural styles.
The church abbey has been a French historical monument since 1840 and was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1991. The Saint-Remi Basilica is considered an outstanding example of Gothic style and architecture.
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4. Visit the Champagne Houses
Address: Cr de la Gare, 51100 Reims, France
Did you know that there are over 200 kilometers of caves and caverns under Reims? These caves, or crayères in French, maintain the perfect temperature and humidity for the 2nd stage of champagne fermentation. This 2nd fermentation takes place in the bottle and gives Champagne its distinctive bubbles.
Maison Ruinart was the first producer to take advantage of these ideal caverns to begin Champagne production in Reims. The other houses soon followed; today, Reims is known as the central hub of the Champagne region.
Veuve Clicquot, Champagne Pommery, and Taittinger are some of Reims’ most famous Champagne houses. Veuve Clicquot has been making wine in Reims since 1772, and its cellars are designated as a World Heritage site.
Champagne Pommery is the biggest Champagne house today, producing over 500,000 cases of bubbly a year. Check out the ancient Roman caverns and the art nouveau tasting rooms. The winery also boasts impressive light and sound shows in its underground cellars.
Taittinger is Champagne elegance. This beautifully furnished wine estate will transport you back to a more sophisticated era.
From your first steps into the beautifully furnished reception area, you’ll feel like you’ve become part of sophisticated French upper society. The informative cellar tour is one of the best in the city.
Be sure to include at least one Champagne house on your next visit to Reims. During your visit, you can sample the finest Champagne from world-famous estates to hidden gems unknown outside the region.
The best way to experience this is on one of the area’s many Champagne tours. There are several to choose from, but we recommend this highly-rated, 8-hour small-group tour of the major Champagne houses in Reims.
5. Porte de Mars
Address: Pl. de la République, 51100 Reims, France
The largest Roman arch in the world, the Porte de Mars marks the northern entrance to historic Reims and is just a short 13-minute walk from the cathedral. Built during the 200s, the arch measures around 32 meters long and 12 meters high.
The arch was named after a nearby temple to Mars. You can still make out the carved reliefs of Leda and Jupiter and Romulus and Remus. Legend has it that local inhabitants built the arch to thank the Romans for bringing major roads to the city and connecting it with the rest of the empire.
The arch once served as the city gate and then part of a medieval castle. It was incorporated into the city walls when the castle was destroyed in 1595. Rediscovered in 1667, the arch wasn’t fully revealed until engineers dismantled the city walls in 1854.
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6. Musée-Hôtel Le Vergeur
Address: 36 Pl. du Forum, 51100 Reims, France
The museum was originally built during the 13th century in what was once the wealthy merchant district of Reims. Nicolas Le Vergeur, a bourgeois merchant, bought the house in the 16th century. He then renovated and converted it into a private mansion, complete with a Renaissance-inspired courtyard.
Today, the museum boasts an extensive collection of Gothic and Renaissance furniture, German Meissen porcelain, and 19th-century oriental art. A must-see is the 50 engravings by Albrecht Dürer. This 15th-century German artist was one of the most important figures of the Northern Renaissance movement.
The Renaissance courtyard contains various historical architectural pieces rescued from throughout the city, including the arches from a 12th-century Knights Templar church.
7. Fort de la Pompelle
Address: RD 944, Route de Châlons-en-Champagne, 51500 Puisieulx, France
The Fort de la Pompelle is located about a 20-minute drive outside Reims. The fort served as part of the nationwide Séré de Rivières defensive system, which France developed after its defeat in the Franco-Prussian War. When completed in 1884, the fort had six 155 mm artillery pieces and a company of 270 men.
The fort saw extensive combat during the First World War and was heavily bombed. However, it was never captured by German forces. After the war, it was abandoned for nearly 40 years until sold to the city of Reims for one franc.
Explore the tunnels under the fort and imagine what life was like for the French soldiers as they defended their city from German attacks. The museum at Fort de la Pompelle features artifacts and memorabilia from the Great War, including an extensive collection of German WWI-styled pointed helmets.
There’s also a memorial for René Dorme, the French fighter ace who shot down 23 planes before being killed in action near Reims in 1917.
8. Musée Automobile Reims-Champagne
Address: 84 Av. Georges Clemenceau, 51100 Reims, France
You don’t have to be a car enthusiast to enjoy the Automobile Museum of Reims. The museum boasts over 250 cars and motorcycles from long-gone makers like Berliet, Delage, Salmson, and Chenard-Walcker. In addition, the collection has some of the last remaining French models in the world, with the oldest dating back to 1908.
Kids will love the incredible collection of 5,000 miniature and toy cars. The museum is a must-see stop for anyone interested in the history of the French automobile.
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9. Place Royale
Address: Rue Cérès, 5 Pl. Royale, 51100 Reims, France
Place Royale, or Royal Square in English, was built in 1757 to honor King Louis XV. A bronze statue of King Louis XV, depicted as a Roman emperor, stands at the center of the square.
Pierre Cartellier designed and created the present statue in 1818 after insurgents destroyed the original during the French Revolution. On a sunny day, you can really enjoy the surrounding Neo-classical French architecture as you stroll through this beautiful square.
As expected, there are a number of delicious restaurants nearby and all throughout the city. For some excellent brunch on your early-afternoon stroll around town, Emilie and the Cool Kids is a great choice.
10. Musée Saint-Remi
Address: 53 Rue Simon, 51100 Reims, France
You’ll find this museum in the former Abbey of Saint-Remi, next to the Basilique Saint-Remi. Its 17 exhibit rooms house an extensive collection of artifacts that traces the history of Reims from prehistoric times until the Renaissance era.
The building boasts a beautiful cloister and a majestic main staircase. The museum was named a World Heritage Site in 1991 and is a must-see for anyone interested in learning about Reims’ rich history.
11. Carnegie Library of Reims
Address: 2 Pl. Carnegie, 51100 Reims, France
Located next to Reims Cathedral and often going undiscovered by tourists, this hidden gem deserves a spot on your best places to visit in Reims list for its incredible Art Deco decor. You’ll feel like you’ve stepped back to the roaring 1920s.
Andrew Carnegie donated the library to the city of Reims after World War I. It served as the main city library until 2003.
Admission is free, and the visit is fast, so you have no reason not to check it out. For some excellent Reims pizza nearby, check out Pizzeria L’Antica.
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12. Musée de la Reddition
Address: 12 Rue du Président Franklin Roosevelt, 51100 Reims, France
If you’re traveling to Reims and are looking for a unique and historically significant museum to visit, look no further than the Musée de la Reddition.
Located in the city’s former Hôtel de Ville, which served as the headquarters of the German military during the occupation, this fascinating museum is dedicated to the liberation of Reims from occupation during World War II. The collection includes a wide range of artifacts from that period, including photographs, documents, and military paraphernalia.
Additionally, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions on related topics throughout the year, making it well worth your time no matter when you happen to visit. So whether you’re an avid history buff or just looking for something different during your travels, be sure to check out the Musée de la Reddition in Reims. For a comfortable stay next door, we recommend the Novotel Suites Reims Centre.
13. Planetarium De Reims
Address: 49 Av. du Général de Gaulle, 51100 Reims, France
Reims is a beautiful city known for its breathtaking architecture and rich cultural heritage. If you’re looking for an exciting, educational activity to do with your children while visiting Reims, then the Reims Planetarium is the perfect option.
At this museum and planetarium, you’ll have the chance to learn about star formation and explore the wonders of our galaxy up close. The presenter, who is extremely knowledgeable about all things astronomy, will entertain and engage your kids with fun demonstrations and interactive activities throughout the visit.
The Reims Planetarium also houses a hemispherical room with a dome-shaped screen that projects a recreation of the starry sky above. Whether you’re an experienced space enthusiast or just curious about astronomy, Reims Planetarium is truly an amazing experience that should not be missed.
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14. The Parcs of Reims
Address: 10 Av. du Général Giraud, 51100 Reims, France
Reims is home to several immensely popular parks, including Parc de Champagne and Parc Léo Lagrange. Parc de Champagne was created in 1909 and covers about 54 acres.
Located on the outside of town, this large park is very well-maintained, and is a great spot for a walk or to play sports. Trees provide excellent shade coverage and there’s games for children, a beach volleyball court, rugby pitch, closed park for dogs and beautiful flower centers.
Parc Léo Lagrange is an urban park with quick access to the city centre compared to Parc de Champagne. This is an excellent park for kids and a perfect place for a family outing. This park is also very well-maintained and has a duck pond, walking paths with benches, two playgrounds, exercise machines as well as a skate park.
This is a perfect park to relax and read a book while watching the kids play. For lunch, nearby is the highly-rated French restaurant Le Petit Basque.
Is Reims worth visiting?
There is no doubt that Reims is a beautiful city, and there are plenty of reasons to visit. The historic center is lovely, and the Reims Cathedral is simply stunning. The city also has a lively cultural scene, with plenty of museums and theaters to enjoy. However, some visitors find Reims to be a bit too quiet and subdued.
If you’re looking for a bustling, cosmopolitan city, Reims may not be the right destination for you. But if you’re looking for a lovely, slower-paced city to enjoy some good wine and food, Reims is definitely worth a visit.
What is Reims known for?
Reims is home to many impressive buildings, one of which is the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims (Notre Dame Cathedral). Unfortunately, Reims was badly destroyed in both world wars but the city has been superbly restored. Some of the more recent buildings were designed in a lovely Art Deco style.
What is there to do in Reims at night?
There are plenty of things to do in Reims at night! For starters, you can explore the city’s nightlife scene. There are a number of bars and clubs to choose from, so you can find the perfect spot to suit your taste. If you’re looking for something a bit more low-key, there are plenty of restaurants and cafes to enjoy.
You can also explore Reims’ historical and cultural offerings. The city is home to a number of museums and galleries, as well as a number of theaters and concert venues.