Things to Do in Reims: The Best Activities and Highlights
Visiting Reims, the Champagne and Coronation city, means discovering an important part of France history as well as the vineyards of Champagne. With numerous points of interest and a total of 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites, it’s a town you shouldn’t miss during your travel in France.
In order to help you to organise your visit, I have made a list of the 15 must-see attractions in and around Reims as well as itineraries to visit Reims in 1,2 or 3 days. All this, as usual, accompanied by my best tips and advice!
And if you are wondering where to stay in Reims, I also give you a selection of the best accommodations in the city at the end of the article.
Let’s start with the 15 best places to visit in Reims!
- Things to Do in Reims: The Best Activities and Highlights
- 1. Cathedral Our Lady of Reims
- 2. The Palace of Tau
- 3. Reims Saint-Remi Basilica
- 4. St. Remi History Museum
- 5. Mars gate
- 6. Visit a Champagne House
- 7. Visit the Villa Demoiselle
- 8. Parc de Champagne
- 9. Reims-Champagne Automobile Museum
- 10. Sainte Clotilde of Reims basilica
- 11. Carnegie library
- 12. Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus
- 13. Hotel Le Vergeur Museum
- 14. Foujita Chapel
- 15. Reims Planetarium
- Other places to see in Reims
- Things to do around Reims
- Reims City Pass
- What to do in Reims for a day
- What to do in Reims in 2 days
- What to do in Reims in 3 days
- Where to stay in Reims?
- Where to eat in Reims?
- Reims tourist map
- You’re traveling in France? These articles will help you!
1. Cathedral Our Lady of Reims
It is THE must-see monument in Reims, the main attraction of the city, the one that attracts the majority of tourists. And there is a good reason for it!
Built in the 13th century, the Reims cathedral also named “Our Lady of Reims” (or “Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims” in french) is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture. Built on the ruins of the ancient cathedral which was ravaged by a fire around 1210, it represents the quintessence of the craftsmen’s know-how of the time.
Bigger than Our Lady of Paris (“Notre-Dame de Paris”), it has housed the coronation of 25 kings of France since its creation and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In total, 33 kings of France were crowned in Reims, in addition to the baptism of Clovis (first king of the Franks). He was baptized in the city’s first cathedral by Saint-Remi.
Things to see during your visit of Our Lady of Reims cathedral:
- Admire it’s exceptional size: 150m long, 48m wide and 83m high.
- The Harmonic facade divided into 3 parts, a classic of the Gothic architecture.
- The 2303 statues, including the famous “Smiling Angel”
- The impressive 38m high nave
- The Kings Gallery, 56 statues of more than 4m50, on the west facade of the Cathedral
- Climb the 249 steps of the North Tower, visit the terrace and the roof to enjoy the panorama (only possible during a guided tour)
- The Henri Deneux Garden (jardin Henri Deneux), located next to the cathedral and offering an interesting view of the rear part of the building.
- Timetable: The Reims cathedral is open everyday from 7h30 to 19h30
- Entrance fee: You can enter the building free of charge. It’s possible to do a guided your for 8€ per person, and I really advise you to do it! The guided visit is free with the Reims City Pass. I will tell you more about it after the Top 15. You can book the Cathedral guided tour here.
You can find more details as well as guided tours timetable on Reims Cathedral official website
2. The Palace of Tau
The palace of Tau, located right next to the Cathedral and also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was once the residence of the Archbishops of Reims.
Nowadays, it’s a museum and the Reims Cathedral treasury exhibition place. You will mainly find objects that have been used in the kings coronations, among them:
- The “Holy Ampulla” (“Sainte Ampoule”), which was used in every single title since Clovis
- The talisman of Charlemagne
- The coat worn at the coronation of Charles X
- The chalice of Saint-Remi
You can also discover tapestries and large statues coming from the cathedral.
3. Reims Saint-Remi Basilica
Built in the 11th century and almost entirely destroyed during the First World War, it is here that you can find the relics of the Archbishop St. Remi (who, as we saw earlier, converted Clovis to Christianity).
A bit smaller than the cathedral, Saint-Remi Basilica of Reims interior is no less impressive. I really loved architecture personally! It’s a little off-centre, but is definitely worth a visit if you enjoy beautiful churches. One of the best points of interest in Reims.
Compared to the cathedral or Palace of Tau, it’s a lesser known tourist attraction, which isn’t a bad thing!
4. St. Remi History Museum
Next to the basilica, in the former royal Abbey of Saint-Remi, there is the St. Remi museum (“Musée Saint-Remi”).
The building, which is the 3rd listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Reims, is worth a visit if only for its architecture. Must-see: the beautiful cloister and the monumental main staircase.
The museum itself is very interesting too. Through 17 exhibition rooms and a very rich collection of objects, it retraces, the history of the city of Reims from prehistory to the Renaissance period.
At 4 euros per person for about 2 hours of visit, it’s a great visit if you are interested in the history of Reims.
For more details about the timetables and prices, please visit the museum website.
5. Mars gate
Reims Mars gate (“porte de Mars”) is a Gallo-Roman triumphal arch. It was the largest of a set of 4 monumental arches which represented the 4 gates of Durocortorum city (Reims name at that time). It is the only one still – practically – intact today.
With its 30m long and almost 15m high, it is the largest known triumphal arch in the Roman world. Don’t miss it during your trip to Reims.
Do not miss the interior of the arches, which are also richly decorated, including a representation of the mythical she-wolf suckling the twins Romulus and Remus (the founders of Rome) scene.
6. Visit a Champagne House
If the city of Reims is known all over the world, it is not only for its magnificent cathedral: as you certainly know, it is also an important place of oenotourism.
The 2nd major attraction of the city is undoubtedly the visit of one of the best Champagne Houses.
My favorite part of the visit is certainly the discovery of the chalk caves (named “crayères” in French), where champagne bottles are stocked. Their constant temperature of 10°C all year round makes them the ideal place to shelter the cellars of champagne.
Among the great vineyards to see: Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin, Taittinger, Pommery etc…
You will find the complete list of Champagne Houses to visit on Reims official website.
The hardest part is choosing! (even if I will help you a bit!)
7. Visit the Villa Demoiselle
The villa Demoiselle, a true masterpiece mixing Art Deco and Art Nouveau style, was built at the beginning of the 20th century by the owner of Maison Pommery.
Today owned by the Vranken family (owner of the Pommery champagnes), it has been completely renovated to regain its original character and reopened in 2008. It serves as a reception area and can be visited.
The guided tour of the villa takes 1 hour, and the price includes a glass of Demoiselle champagne, the cuvée named after the place.
The villa Demoiselle being private, the visit is not included in the Reims City Pass.
You can only visit with a reservation, that you can make on this website.
8. Parc de Champagne
If I’m talking about this park on the outskirts of town, it’s simply because it’s close to the Champagne Houses. If you visit the city in summer, you will be happy to take a short break in the shaded walkways of the Parc de Champagne (Champagne Park).
Today the largest public park in the city of Reims, it was once part of the Domaine Pommery.
Next to the villa Demoiselle, in the same neighborhood, you can also go to the the Bute Saint-Nicaise park, another green oasis.
9. Reims-Champagne Automobile Museum
You may not know it, but it is in Reims that one of the 5 largest automotive museums in France is located. This is really a lesser known tourist attraction, but a great place to visit nonetheless!
The Reims Champagne Automobile Museum has a collection of more than 230 vehicles from 1908 to the present day. Motorcycles and cars, from the Marne taxi to the race car, there is something for everyone!
The museum also presents a collection of more than 5,000 miniatures and toys related to the automotive world.
10. Sainte Clotilde of Reims basilica
If you’re looking for off the beaten track points of interest in Reims, you should really go to the St. Clotilde de Reims Basicilica. With its Neo-Byzantine architecture, is an atypical monument, really not well known by tourists.
The first thing I thought when I saw the facade was that it would fit perfectly into Gotham City, the city of Batman!
The bad new is that it’s not often open: according to the latest news, only on Sundays from 3pm to 5pm in July and August, so you will probably only be able to admire the outdoors (its the most interesting anyway!).
11. Carnegie library
So this is a first! A library is not really the first place that comes to mind when we talk about things to do in a city.
Little known by tourists, this little jewel deserves the detour for its superb Art Deco decoration that makes you fee you’re in the 1920s United States. The Carnegie library is an unusual place to visit during your escapade in Reims.
Admission is of course free and the visit is fast, but as it is located right next to Reims cathedral, you have no excuse to miss it 😉
12. Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus
Under the acient Reims forum and the current “place du Forum de Reims”, you can find one of the 3 galleries that formed the Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus (“Cryptoportique gallo-romain”). In the past used for grain storage, it can now be visited and hosts temporary exhibitions.
13. Hotel Le Vergeur Museum
The Hotel Le Vergeur Museum is located in a mansion built in the 15th century and listed as a historical monument. It was the home of the collector and patron Hugues Krafft at the beginning of the 20th century.
Left untouched since his death in 1935, it’s today a nice museum that you can visit.
Guided tour only.
14. Foujita Chapel
It was the visit to the Basilica of St. Semi of Reims that decided the Japanese painter Leonardo Foujita to convert to Christianity.
Without a second thought, the man exactly knew what he wanted and decided to design a Romanesque chapel, the Foujita Chapel, entirely. It is notably known for its fresco, and the many details coming from the Japanese tradition.
Price: 4€, free entrance with the Reims City Pass.
15. Reims Planetarium
The Reims Planetarium is an excellent cultural activity to do if you have decided to visit Reims with children.
A museographic space serves as a prelude to the visit, and then you will go to the large dome representing the starry sky
The presenters and lecturers are at very good, it’s for me one of the best planetarium in France.
- Entrance fee: Free with the Reims City Pass
- Phone number: 03. 18.104.22.168
Other places to see in Reims
- Museum of the Surrender: A museum about a forgotten part of history. If the date of May 8, 1945 is for everyone the official end of the Second World War, the German surrender was actually signed in Reims on May 7, 1945! If you are interested in history, I recommend a visit to the museum, which is free with the Reims City Pass.
- Reims Museum of Fine Arts, which although not necessarily the best of its kind, is home to some fine works. Moreover, the visit is free with the Reims City Pass.
- Place Drouet d’ Erlon, which is more like a small pedestrian street than a square. It’s lined with shops and cafés, which makes it the centre of Reims social life. To see: the Subé fountain.
- Reims Opera House, located near Notre Dame Cathedral and considered one of the most beautiful opera houses in France. Unfortunately, it is only open on Heritage Day, but you can attend a performance.
Things to do around Reims
There are a lot of things to see in the surroundings of Reims, here is the selection of my favorite places and activities:
Fort de la Pompelle Museum
The Fort of La Pompelle, built in 1883 to defend Reims, is located 15 minutes by car from the city centre.
This fort was the main part of the Reims sector’s defence during World War I, and it was badly damaged during the conflict. Listed historical monument, it now houses a museum dedicated Reims city defence.You can discover a collection of costumes, helmets, weapons, artillery pieces and historical documents.
Free entrance with the Reims City Pass.
Verzenay Lighthouse – Champagne vineyards Museum
It is a rather unusual building that stands in the middle of the vineyards, less than 20km from Reims: the lighthouse of Verzenay.
Although it was built in 1909 for advertising purposes, it has now been turned into a vineyard museum. It is also possible to climb in the lighthouse, at 25m height, to enjoy the panorama on the surrounding vineyards.
And at the end of the visit, you can enjoy the champagne tasting session!
3 types of admission tickets are available:
- Museum only
- Lighthouse only
- Museum + Lighthouse
If you have the Reims City Pass, you will get a discount on the the museum + lighthouse entrance fee.
Not far from the lighthouse, you can find Verzenay Windmill, situated on a hill overlooking the vineyards. Listed as a historical monument, it can’t be visited inside, but is worth the trip for the view (one of the most beautiful in the region) and the photo moment!
The Faux de Verzy
In the Verzy forest, you will be able to observe a curiosity of nature: The Faux de Verzy, trees with the unlikely form also known as Fau beeches or dward beeches.
With about 1000 Faux, this place is home to the largest concentration of Faux de Verzy in the world. You can discover these unique trees through a 3km trail in the forest.
As it’s only at about 30 minutes from Reims, it would be a shame to miss this tourist site when visiting the city!
Abbaye Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers
About 30 minutes south of Reims is the beautiful Abbey of Saint Peter of Hautvillers, whose history is intimately linked to the champagne one.
Today it belongs to the Moët & Chandon house of Champagne and it is in the Saint-Sindulphe church of this abbey that lies the remains of Dom Pérignon and Dom Ruinart, 2 very famous names in the history of champagne.
You can also visit the village of Hautvillers, considered as the cradle of champagne.
Reims City Pass
The Reims City Pass is an initiative launched by the Tourist Information Office which allows you to save money when visiting Reims. What you get:
- Free access to museums and must-see attractions in Reims, all the ones I’m talking about in this guide
- Guided city tours (historical Reims, Reims by night, Art Deco tour etc.)
- The Reims City Tour, which is the bus city tour.
- Free public transport
- Discounts on visits to Champagne Houses
- Discounts/gifts in some restaurants.
Available in 1, 2 or 3 days version, for respective prices of 22€, 32€ and 42€. It can be purchased on this website
What to do in Reims for a day
If you only have one day in Reims and want to visit the must-see attractions of the city and a Champagne house, you will need to plan your itinerary well. Here is how to visit of Reims in express version!
- Start your day with the visit of Our Lady of Reims catehdral.
- Then go to the Palace of Tau, located nearby.
- Eat your lunch in the city centre, for example at Place Drouet d’ Erlon.
- No time to waste, head towards the Basilica of St. Remi
- Continue with the Saint-Remi Museum
- End your day with the visit of the Champagne House of your choice.
It’s rather tough, but 1 day in Reims is really short!
What to do in Reims in 2 days
In 2 days in Reims, you will have more time to enjoy the city, so it is better to plan a different route for day 1. Here is an itinerary optimized for this visit in 2 days, to avoid going back and forth unnecessarily. I also recommend that you take a Reims City Pass for two days.
This day’s itinerary is dedicated to the visit of Reims city centre and can be done on foot, as long as you are not allergic to walking! If you have the Pass, you can also choose one or more guided tours.
- Start with the Foujita Chapel, as it’s a bit outside the city centre.
- Then visit the Museum of the Surrender
- Go through the Mars Gate
- Go down to Place Drouet d’ Erlon via the Promenades Jean-Louis Schneiter (the new name of the “Hautes Promenades”)
- Have a drink on the square and it’s already lunchtime!
- Then go take a guided tour of the Hôtel Le Vergeur Museum at 2pm
- Then head to the forum square, very close to see the Gallo-Roman cryptoporticus
- Time to go to Reims cathedral for a guided tour
- Last big visit of the day, the Palace of Tau, but beware, as it closes early in winter. So you may have visit it the next morning.
- Before dinner, you should go have a look at Carnegie Library, next to the Tau Palace.
For this 2nd day in Reims, as the distances are quite long, you will have to take public transport or your car.
- If you were unable to do so on the first day, start your day with the Palace of Tau
- Then, you can go to the Reims Champagne Automobile Museum or the Planetarium
- Lunch break
- Start your afternoon with a visit of the Saint-Remi Basilica of Reims and St. Remi Museum
- The rest of your afternoon will be dedicated to the visit of a Champagne House.
- You can also take a short trip to the Champagne Park for a quiet moment!
If you want to visit Reims and its region in 2 days, another possibility is to combine the “express” itinerary presented in “Visit Reims in 1 day” with the 3 days itinerary I tell you about just after.
What to do in Reims in 3 days
3 days in Reims is the perfect stay duration to enjoy everything the city has to offer. So why not consider a long weekend in the Coronation city? In addition to the previous itinerary, the 3rd day is an opportunity to discover the surroundings of Reims.
Unless you want to make other visits in the city center, the Reims City Pass will be useful only for the first 2 days, no need to take the 3 days version.
- Start your day with the visit of the Fort de la Pompelle museum
- Then head south to visit the vineyard museum at the Verzenay lighthouse and take a few photos of the Verzenay mill
- Lunch break in Verzy or the surrounding area
- After lunch, head towards the Faux de Verzy for a short walk in the forest
- End your day with a little thought for Dom Pérignon and Dom Ruinart, at Saint-Pierre d’Hautvillers Abbey
You can also make the itinerary of this 3rd day in the opposite direction, which is smarter if you need to go north for your next destination.
Where to stay in Reims?
To make the most of your holidays in France, sleeping well is very important! That’s why I have selected for you the best hotels in Reims in each price category.
- Appart’City Confort Reims Centre: Situated 500m from the Cathedral of Reims, offering modern, bright and quiet studios, this apartment hotel is the best choice to visit Reims without breaking the bank! Studio from 49 euros per night.
- Brit Hotel aux Sacres Reims Centre: Ideally located in the city centre near the Cathedral, it is a small family hotel, and you can see it! The welcome is warm and the breakfast delicious. Night in double room from 75 euros.
- Best Western Premier Hôtel De La Paix: Also very close to the cathedral, this 4* hotel is simply the best in town. Private parking and indoor swimming pool! A great choice for a romantic stay. The double rooms starts at 140 euros per night.
Where to eat in Reims?
- L’Alambic: Located very close to the “Jardin de la Patte d’Oie”. This restaurant welcomes you in an old champagne cellar to enjoy dishes full of flavours made with good fresh produce.
- L’Aqua: Slightly off Reims city centre, this small restaurant offers home-made and beautifully presented dishes. You’ll enjoy the appetizer and dessert. Excellent value for money.
- The café du palais: Situated 2 steps away from Reims cathedral in the city center. Under its glass roof and in a magnificent setting, this restaurant offers a traditional and qualitative bistro cuisine, with regional fresh produce.
Reims tourist map
In order for you to plan your trip easily, I have prepared a tourist map of Reims, with all the must-see attractions I talk about in this article. You can display the map legend by clicking on the top left button, the one with a small arrow.
And you, what are you going to visit in Reims?
France travel Guides
- Buy the Lonely Planet France guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
- Buy the Rick Steves France guide on Amazon.com or on Amazon.co.uk
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