One day in Reims (Grand Est - France)

This article first appeared in My Travelogue by Bhushavali
 
A DAY TRIP TO REIMS TO SEE TWO OF THE
UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITES IN FRANCE

PARIS TO REIMS DAY TRIP
Reims is a super easy day trip or weekend trip from Paris. There is a direct highspeed train from Paris Gare de l'Est that takes just 50 minutes to reach Reims Central! On my recent trip, I stayed in Paris and went on a day trip from Paris to Fontainebleau; a day trip from Paris to Provins and on yet another day I went on a day trip from Paris to Reims including a visit to the Champagne Cellars of Taittinger.
Read on, to know more about what all I did on this Reims day trip and how you could plan your trip even if you depend entirely on public transport. 

TOP 5 THINGS TO DO IN REIMS
WHAT TO DO IN REIMS IN 1 DAY or 2 DAYS

Fetes Jonanniques Reims Things to do


Taittinger Cellar Tours Reims in One Day

Musee Saint Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites France Reims
Grand Staircase of Musée Saint-Remi

Reims Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Basilique Saint-Remi

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Musée Saint-Remi

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Musée Saint-Remi

VISIT CHAMPAGNE HOUSES & CELLARS (AND VINEYARDS):
This is a no-brainer! A Reims trip is not complete without visiting the Champagne Cellars and buying Champagne from Champagne! 
Did you know that all sparkling white wines are not Champagne? The most common other variants are Prosecco from Italy and Cava from Spain, but there are quite a few from most other European countries as well as the UK & USA. But only the sparkling white wine manufactured from scratch (from the cultivation of grapes to aging of wine in the cellars) in the Champagne-Ardennes region in France can be called Champagne! The major Champagne Houses in Reims (that are within the city & accessible on foot or by public transport) are Champagne Taittinger, Champagne Pommery, Champagne Ruinart, Champagne G H Martel, Champagne Lanson, etc. 
If you have a car or if you are good to hike or can hire a bike, head to Epernay to visit the vineyards too. There are also some coach/car tours & excursions that depart from Reims to visit the vineyards at Epernay. Technically, Epernay is a good day trip from Reims!


Reims Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

VISIT SAINT REMI BASILICA & ABBEY MUSEUM 
Saint Remi Abbey church was in fact the first ever church I visited as soon as I reached Reims. However the mass was happening when I went in and I headed directly to the Saint Remy Museum and then came back to the church again, later. Apart from the church part of the Abbey which is still a functional church, the rest all has been converted into a museum.
Musée Saint-Remi: Saint Remy Museum's entrance is further ahead down the road. The self-guided tour of the museum begins at what was originally the cloister of the abbey. The first room is dedicated to the shrine of his relics and the funerary rites of St.Remi. This was followed by another room of clothing & artifacts of the monks when this was a functioning abbey. Then the tour continued upstairs, through a majestic staircase. This section was more like a local history museum that began with the pre-historic times to Gallo-roman pottery & mosaics to marble sculptures of 4th C CE, to jewelry, tapestry & glasswork of later eras, and much more. There's also a section dedicated to military & arms! 
Basilica of Saint-Remi: Then I headed back to the church. Honestly, both Notre Dame Cathedral and Saint Remi Basilica, felt extensive and equally gorgeous in terms of their architecture & stained glass windows. As soon as you enter you face the stunning Rosette Window. The historic chandelier here reminded me of a similar one in Aachen Cathedral. The church has 3 levels with majestic Romanesque windows with stained glasses on all 3 levels. However, it isn't possible to climb up. 
The basilica has been built over the chapel of St.Christophe where St.Remi was buried. With its nave & transepts built during the 11th C, it is one of the largest Romanesque Churches in France, which was further expanded till 15th C CE in Gothic style. It was majorly damaged during the World Wars and then restored again.  

Where is Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey (Basilique Saint-Remi) in Reims (on Google Maps)Basilique Saint-Remi
How to reach Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey (Basilique Saint-Remi) in ReimsSaint Remi Abbey is located 1.6km (20mins walk) from Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims. The nearest bus stop to Basilique Saint-Remi is Saint-Remi. Citura Bus Route 6 stops at Saint-Remi. The other option is to take Citura Bus Routes 4, or 9 from Reims Central Railway Station till Place Saint-Timothée and walk 2 mins to the Basilica of Remi Remi Abbey. 
Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey (Basilique Saint-Remi) Reims Tickets: Free
Basilica of Saint Remi Abbey (Basilique Saint-Remi) Reims Opening Hours: Monday to Saturday - 9:00AM to 12:00 Noon and 2:00PM to 07:00PM; Sunday - 9:00AM to 07:00PM

Where is Musée Saint-Remi in Reims (on Google Maps)Musée Saint-Remi
How to reach Musée Saint-Remi  in ReimsSame as above. The museum's entrance is about 200m (2 mins walk) from the Basilica's entrance.
Musée Saint-Remi Tickets: €5 (Free with Reims City Pass)
Musée Saint-Remi Opening Hours: 10:00AM to 06:00PM Everyday

Palace of Tau Reims UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Palace of Tau Reims UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Palace of Tau Reims UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Palace of Tau Reims UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Palace of Tau Reims UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Palace of Tau Reims UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

VISIT THE PALACE OF TAU (PALAIS DU TAU) IN REIMS
The palace of Tau and Notre Dame Cathedral are located next to each other in the heart of Reims City. The history of the Palace of Tau begins in the 5th C when Bishop Nicasius lived here. The 'T' shape of the palace's layout is why it is called the Palace of Tau. The building has been improvised and underwent restoration over the years till 1972.
Why is the Palace of Tau important? The Palace of Tau is the home to the Archbishop of Reims. But its importance is because, it is where the coronation of several Kings of France, from 9th C CE to 1825, happened at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims located next door. After the coronation, the grand feast happened right here at the Palace of Tau. Currently, there's a permanent collection that showcases some historic artifacts and a section where events are held. The day I went there was an orchestra happening. These events are separately ticketed and with the main ticket  (or Reims City Pass), you can see the permanent collection.
Palace of Tau tour: The permanent collection is on 2 floors and the self-guided tour begins on the ground floor. The oldest part of the current building, from the 14th C, is on the ground floor. It reminded me much of the crypts of Gallo-Romain churches. At the end of this passage was a room filled with all the sculptures and masonry broken from the Notre Dame Cathedral as well as the Palace of Tau. The next room has 3 huge sculptures, also from the Cathedral. 
The major room on the first floor is the Banquet Hall whose vault is made of wood and is in the shape of an inverted ship's hull! But unfortunately, this is the room where events happen and I couldn't see it! 
On this floor, the most important room is the treasury.  This is one of the largest treasuries in France which has Charlemagne's Talisman (remember him from Route Charlemagne at Aachen?), Holy Thorn & Resurrection relics (remember Holy Blood at Bruges?) etc? The room that fascinated me the most was the Goliath room filled with 13th C sculptures from the Cathedral; the tallest sculpture here is 5.4m tall. The last room is the Coronation of the Virgin room which has a few more sculptures and tapestries. On the wall of this room is the 12th C sculptures of 6 kings. 

Where is Palace of Tau (Palais du Tau), Reims (on Google Maps): Palais du Tau
How to reach Palace of Tau (Palais du Tau), Reims: Palais du Tau is located 1km (12 mins walk) from Reims Central Railway Station. Citura Bus Routes 2,4,6, and 9 drop you right in front of the Cathedral from Reims Central Railway Station. Palais du Tau is just beside the Cathedral.
Palace of Tau (Palais du Tau), Reims Tickets: €8 (Free with Reims City Pass)
Palace of Tau (Palais du Tau), Reims Opening Hours: Sept to Apr - 9:45AM to 12:30PM; 2:00PM to 05:15PM; May to Aug - 9:30AM to 6:30PM. Closed on Mondays.

Reims Notre Dame Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Notre Dame Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Notre Dame Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Notre Dame Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Notre Dame Cathedral UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

VISIT REIMS NOTRE DAME CATHEDRAL
As I just mentioned, Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims is located just beside the Palace of Tau and was where the coronation of 25 French Kings happened. The Reims Tourism Office is located just beside Notre Dame cathedral as well.
Reims Notre Dame Cathedral history: The history of Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims dates back to 5th C CE when Bishop Nicasius built the first ever cathedral here dedicated to Virgin Mary. However, the construction of the current structure began in 9th C CE and got over by 15th C CE as a masterpiece of Gothic Architecture. However it was damaged and reconstructed time & again due to fire, hurricanes, and later the French Revolution and then, again during the World Wars.  
Reims Notre Dame Cathedral architecture: Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims definitely gave the Notre Dame Cathedral of Paris vibes with high towers on either side and the Gothic arches over the entrance filled with detailed sculptures. I went in and turned around to the 2 phenomenal rosette windows. 
Reims Notre Dame Cathedral Clock: One of the fascinating things about Reims Notre Dame Cathedral is its clock! I was lucky to be there sharp at 3PM, in order to see the clock functioning. Though history mentions the presence of a chiming clock here since 14th C CE, the current Astronomical Clock of Reims Cathedral belongs to 15th C CE. It did stop working a couple of times, but it was repaired and it works to date.
As the clock strikes the hour, a series of figures go round on either side of the center of the clock face. While at first, I thought it was the 12 apostles, but it turned out to be all the more interesting - On one side are the 3 Wise Kings preceded by an angel; on the other side are an angel, Mary seated on a donkey, followed by Joseph and 2 of Harod's soldiers. Quite an unusual set of sculptures to see in a clock!

Here's a tip: The towers of the Notre Dame Cathedral Reims can only be accessed via a guided tour. While the tour is included in Reims City Pass, only 16 people are allowed per tour. So it is essential to reserve your slot at the ticket office of the Palace of Tau! The tours are only in French, but that doesn't really matter because that's the only way you'll get to climb the towers. Unfortunately, I missed it! The last tour of the day was already fully booked when I was at the Palace of Tau! 

Where is Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims (on Google Maps)Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims
How to reach Notre Dame Cathedral in ReimsPalais du Tau is located 1km (12 mins walk) from Reims Central Railway Station. Citura Bus Routes 2,4,6, and 9 drop you right in front of the Cathedral from Reims Central Railway Station.
Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims Tickets: Free
Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims Guided Tour Tickets (incl. visit of Towers): €8 (Free with Reims City Pass)
Notre Dame Cathedral in Reims Guided Tour Hours: 
Sept to mid-Nov and mid-Feb to Apr: Tour begins on Saturdays at 10:00AM, 11:00AM, 02:00PM, 03:00PM, & 04:00PM and on Sundays at 02:00PM, 03:00PM, & 04:00PM.
May to Aug: Tour begins on Tuesdays to Saturdays at 10:00AM, 11:00AM, 02:00PM, 03:00PM, 04:00PM, & 05:00PM and on Sundays at 02:00PM, 03:00PM, 04:00PM, & 05:00PM.
Guided tour unavailable from mid-Nov to mid-Feb

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Musée Saint-Remi

Fetes Jonanniques Reims Things to do

Fetes Jonanniques Reims Things to do

Fetes Jonanniques Reims Things to do

Fetes Jonanniques Reims Things to do

ATTEND A MEDIEVAL EVENT
The most fascinating thing to do in this medieval town of Reims is perhaps to attend a medieval festival when the whole place gets a medieval makeover. When I visited the Fete Johanniques (Joan of Arc Feast) and the way the town was celebrating it was fantastic.
To begin with, there was a small sheep stable beside the church which itself proved super interesting for Atyudarini. There were several, several games for children including hitting a target with a (blunt) javelin, attacking a soldier's sculpture, etc. There were several workshops like braiding, painting, stamping, etc. There were demonstrations including an actual sword fight, baking bread in the traditional way, etc. 
As evening set in, the town went into an absolutely celebratory mode with music & dance The most fascinating to me was the carillon performance outdoor with a make-shift tower of bells with more musicians on more instruments!!!

When does the Reims medieval festival happen? mid May every year.
Check the website of Reims to be updated on the Festivals & Events in Reims

HOW TO REACH REIMS
Reims is a super well connected by SNCF trains, even high speed trains. Do keep in mind that the prices of the highspeed trains are exponential and gets more expensive day by day. So try to book the Paris <=> Reims tickets as early as possible. 

REIMS LOCAL TRANSPORT
Reims is well connected by Citura Bus! Quite amusingly it doesn't show on Google Maps. 
Bus connectivity in Reims: Reims bus map via Citura 
Single trip ticket cost on Citura bus: €1.80
One day ticket cost on Citura bus: €4.55
Citura Buses are included in the Reims City Pass.

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Musée Saint-Remi

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Musée Saint-Remi

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Relics of Saint-Remi Reims UNESCO World Heritage Sites
Shrine of Saint-Remi relics in Musée Saint-Remi

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France

Reims Musée Saint-Remi UNESCO World Heritage Sites in France
Musée Saint-Remi

IS REIMS EPERNAY CITY PASS WORTH IT?
Like many other cities, Reims too has a city pass called the Reims Epernay Pass. The 24 hours pass is dedicated to either one of the cities - either Reims or Epernay. The 48h & 72h passes are common for Reims & Epernay. 
Reims City Pass 24hrs: €19
Epernay City Pass 24hrs: €23
Reims & Epernay City Pass 48hrs: €38
Reims & Epernay City Pass 72hrs: €42

I was in Reims for a day and I used the Reims City Pass 24hrs and visited the 3 UNESCO Sites, took a tour of the Taittinger Champagne Cellars and used the public transport. If I had bought those monument tickets individually, I would have spent €25.55, but the Reims City Pass 24hrs is just €19. So I saved €13, incl. the 20% discount on Taittinger Champagne Cellar tour tickets. I would have saved more if I had been there for 48hrs or 72hrs! So yes, Reims City Pass is totally worth it! 

REIMS ITINERARIES
Is Reims worth a day trip? Oh yes! However if you're there in spring or summer I'd suggest you to opt for a 2 day trip to Reims including Epernay. If it is Autumn or Winter, Reims is totally worth a day trip.

ONE-DAY ITINERARY AT (DAY TRIP TO) REIMS
One day in Reims
Morning: Taittinger Champagne Cellars guided tour
Lunch: At one of the restaurants in the Cathedral square with a view of the Reims Cathedral.
Afternoon: Cathedral of Notre-Dame, Former Abbey of Saint-Rémi, and Palace of Tau

TWO-DAYS ITINERARY AT (WEEKEND TRIP TO) REIMS 
2 days in Reims:
Day 1 - Same as above 
Stay overnight at Reims or Epernay (or return to Paris & go to Epernay next day)
Day 2 - Hike/Bike through the Champagne hillsides at Epernay

Reims Day Trip Pinterest Reims in one day Pinterest

Things to do in Reims Pinterest UNESCO Sites in Reims Pinterest

Bhushavali

An ardent traveler by passion. Being an ex - Art History Teacher, my area of interest especially lies in Nature and Heritage. Visited 85 UNESCO World Heritage sites as of June 2022. I've been listed among the Top 7 Women Travel Bloggers of India, Top 50 in UK. I have been interviewed in a couple of TV Shows, Radio Channels and Events as well. Read more about me and read the testimonials of different brands

9 comments:

  1. The Notre Dame cathedral and the Champagne tours would be my main resaon for a visit to Reims. In fact, I have planning such a visit for quite a while now. I would prefer to walk or cycle for the Champagne tasting. And I would definitely try to book a tour of the towers of the cathedral. You had a busy day and managed to see a lot on your day trip.

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  2. How amazing that when you visited Reims you stumbled upon a Medieval festival. I bet that added so much fun to the day trip and also made it more easy to imagine how those days used to be in the city. I would definitely like to visit a Champagne house and cellar and learn more about the process of making this famous French drink. I have heard about Taittinger before, but never tried it.

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  3. I've been to Paris several times, but my schedule has always been so tight that I haven't reached Reims yet. It's great that you are giving directions on how to get there because it's such an attractive place, especially since I'd love to see the Saint Remi Abbey and Musée Saint-Remi. The Basilica of Saint-Remi, with its fabulous Rosette Window, is also on my bucket list. I would also like to take Taittinger Champagne Cellars guided tour. Great that you provide directions and details about the entrance fees. It's easier to plan a trip. I think that I will buy Reims Epernay Pass as you recommend. I hope to spend two days there and use your detailed itinerary.

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  4. Reims is unquestionably a breathtaking place! The Basilique Saint-Remi's exquisite interiors had me in awe. The historical relic collection of the Palace of Tau also interests me. All of these locations have beautiful designs and architecture, but the façade of Notre Dame Cathedral really caught my eye. It seems that attending a medieval festival is a must-do activity in Reims, and I hope to participate in it soon.

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  5. Oh my goodness! The stained glass in that church is gorgeous! And I'd love to head to Reims. So many folks miss out on lovely towns like this by just going to the main cities (Paris!). Although they're fun to see, the smaller towns are less crowded and have so much to offer, like you've highlighted!

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  6. Happy to know that there are already many places we can visit and do in Reims in just a day or two. I would love to visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Saint Remi Basilica and Abbey Museum. A trip the Palace of Tau sounds interesting too. Thank you for sharing a little bit of their history. You just made it more interesting. Can't wait to be there.

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  7. We have visited a lot of places in France but have sadly missed visiting Reims. But I know we would love to visit this champagne region and plan to do a champagne cellar tour … or two! Good to know there are some beautiful sight to visit when we are not chasing bubbly drinks. And places to learn about the history of the region. How fun to visit when a medieval event was on!

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  8. What an amazing experience. Visiting the PALACE OF TAU sounds promising. It is beautifully constructed, and I can see why it a place of significance. It would be interesting to visit a medieval festival. I have never been to one.

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  9. What a fantastic experience. It's great to know you can do a day visit if you are staying in Paris. I'd definitely want to visit the champagne cellars. Definitely adding Reims to my next trip to France.

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