Reems (Eng.) or Rance (Fre.), it truly doesn’t matter how you pronounce it. I mean we say Paris and the French call it Paree! Reims is the capital of the Champagne Ardenne region and only footsteps away from the vineyards of France’s most popular export, Champagne. It’s a great place to stay for a few nights and the shopping in Reims is definitely for food lovers.
Only 45 minutes from Paris, Reims is an easy day trip from the big city. A mix of architecture, from Medieval wonders, Renaissance houses, Roman ruins, plus little of the two Arts, Deco and Nouveau, thrown in for good measure, make Reims an architecture jewel. Most importantly it’s home to the largest cathedral in France which deserves a visit and is on my list below!
Shopping in Reims
The Champagne Houses
Reims shopping begins with Champagne! There are about 100 Champagne grand maisons in this area. Each champagne house has retained its own individual feel and, of course, taste. There are tours of almost all the most popular maisons, which is great for us who, not only drink this divine libation, but want to know more. You can find different products that you can only find here!
FYI: Right in town are the Veuve Clicquot crayers – 24 kilometers of chalk tunnels that were originally dug out by the Romans in 80 BC. Supposedly about 100,000,000 bottles are stored down below. Take the tour of Veuve Clicquot and then toast to those crafty Romans.
Veuve Clicquot, 1, place des droits de l’Homme +33 (0)3 26 89 53 90
Trésors de Champagne
There are too many small champagne producers to count, but that hasn’t stopped the fabulous Trésors de Champagne from being the best place to shop in Reims for Champagne. Don’t worry there are tastings on Saturday from 11:00 – 13:00 and a really helpful staff.
The shop itself is tons of fun…each producer is represented by a bottle on the ceiling with a number on it. Pull one down and all the info you need is on the back of the bottle. The number is reflected on a map of the Champagne region on the floor beneath the bottle. Bottles are priced from €20 – €80.
The staff is incredibly knowledgeable and guided me to the best of the Demi-Sec, a sweeter version of champagne, that is almost never drunk by serious enthusiasts, but should be, as it is seriously tasty.
Trésors de Champagne, 2 rue Olivier Métra, Quartier du Boulingrin, +33 (0)3 26 48 28 42
Waïda et Fils Patisserie
If you need even more champagne, you can find it smothered in chocolate at Waïda, the prettiest patisserie in Reims. The cork-shaped candies made me wish every cork were made out of chocolate and I am slowly eating the champagne filled ones.
While redoing the place a few years ago, the original gold mosaic covered walls were found. After being restored to their former glory, the mosaics glisten and have made Waïda a wonder of Art Nouveau decoration.
Waïda et Fils Patisserie, 5 Place Drouet d’Erlon
Rumor has it that you are supposed to dip these ‘perfect-shade of pink’ treats into your champagne and then pop the, then bubbly soaked, biscuits in your mouth. At least, that’s what Fossier has been telling the world to do since 1756. Not only the prettiest shop window in Reims, but also the oldest bakery in France, Fossier has perfected les rose de Reims, as well as so many other treats! It is definitely a Best Bit. (A few French we asked poo-pooed the champagne dipping story, but the romantic in me still wants to believe it!)
Fossier, 25 courses Jean-Baptiste Langlet, +33 3 26 47 59 84
Huitres & Coquillages
How do you define luxury while shopping in Reims? Having a pop-up shop on your street selling oysters & scallops could be one definition. Decadency was stopping there for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Every day, we woke to try another Fin de Clare, the Gillardeau, and Belons! Just for this alone is a reason to visit Reims!
Cross-section of Rue Buirette & Rue Jeanne D’Arc
What to do when you are not shopping
After you are done shopping in Reims, you must visit the 12th C Reims Cathedral, Notre-Dame des Reims! It’s worth the Eurostar ticket alone. If you can trust the former Kings of France for one thing, it would be that they picked the perfect spot for their coronations. If its overwhelming French-Gothic exterior doesn’t blow your mind, then the interior will.
Outside the entrance is the most famous of them all – the Smiling Angel. He was the symbol of French resistance again German hostility during WWI. His head was knocked off by the Germans, but all the pieces were collected and put back together after the war.
Inside the cathedral lies a wonder of stained glass from throughout the ages. Over the door is the 13th C original rosette joined by its 1930’s partner. Explore the entire cathedral, looking up and making sure not to miss Marc Chagall’s windows in the back.
Make sure to see the Champagne Window where, if you look closely enough, you can see Dom Pérignon hard at work. Remember to pass by the cathedral at night when the lights are left on inside and the colors of the windows permeate the night sky.
You can always join a tour of the cathedral if that is easier for you.
Staying in Reims
There are some incredible hotels right outside of Reims. I would suggest the Domaine Les Crayeres, a Relais & Chateaux property with a two Michelin star restaurant. Slightly more out of town is the other Relais & Chateaux property, L’Assiette Champenoise. Hotel de la Paix is really the only choice in town. The oyster place is directly outside!
For more Reims hotel recommendations, check Tripadvisor.com.
If you want to book, then head to Booking.com.
Head back to Paris easily on the Eurostar. I have a self guided walking tour of Paris, if you want to explore the city.
Tours in Reims
For more tours of Champagne region, here are two I can recommend: Ay: Cité du Champagne 90-Minute Tour and Tasting; Epernay: Guided Tour of Champagne Cellar with Tastings, or just tour the Champagne Houses like Moët & Chandon or Taittinger.
Best Bits of Reims
Reims has everything you need to make a trip luxurious – oysters and champagne! It’s hard to beat that where ever else you’re headed! You’ll find it doesn’t break the bank here which is a wonderful reason for bringing some bubbly home with you!
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I was the guest of Champagne & Ardenne Tourism & Voyages SNCF.