One of the most favorable aspects of touring the small towns of northeastern France is that most of the historic buildings and tourist attractions can be seen in a relatively short time. Therefore, a two-day trip to Reims will allow you to get to know the city and its surroundings.
Day 1: Explore the attractions of Reims
The first day of your visit to the city of Reims should be spent exploring the main tourist attractions of the city. Although it is a small city, it is true that it has buildings of great importance among which are some World Heritage Sites declared by Unesco.
For this reason, the list of sites that I have planned for you to visit during your first 24 hours in Reims follow a logistics that will not make you waste time and much less money in unnecessary transportation, which usually happens if you go from one extreme to another without any logical sense.
Start the day at the Porte Mars
The Porte Mars is one of the most interesting tourist attractions in the city of Reims and, at the same time, it stands out because enjoying it is totally free. It is a Roman triumphal arch that is characterized for being the widest of its style, as well as for being the oldest Roman construction on the north of the Alps that still remains standing.
For many years it functioned as the gateway to the city and, today, this honorable mention is still maintained by the fact that it is located right next to the city's train station. For this reason, it will be the first place you will visit if you arrive by train.
You should also note that this triumphal arch is part of a public park that stands out for its beauty and its extension and walking before or after touring the Porte Mars is a fun idea. You should also know that this site is part of the private tours organized by some guides in the city of Reims.
Breakfast at the Place Royale
The Place Royale is located a couple of streets away from the Porte Mars and, throughout the year, functions as an epicenter of urban life in the center of Reims. It is known for its Christmas decorations and for its gastronomic offer.
So if you have not yet had breakfast when you arrive in Reims, I recommend that you do so in any of the cafes located in this square or in the nearby streets. Especially because the walk from the Porte Mars to this place will help you discover the beauty that characterizes the buildings of this city, which are a mixture of medieval trends with post-war modernity.
Visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims and the Palsais du Tau
Reims is a small city and most of the tourist attractions are within walking distance. Therefore, after breakfast around the Place Royal, it is recommended that you go to the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims, the most important historical monument of the city located one street away from the famous square.
To understand how to visit the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Reims you have to know that the entrance is free and is open from 7:30 am to 7:30 pm. If you want to enjoy a quiet tour, I recommend that you do it out of mass hours and I advise you to pay the same amount of attention to its interior and exterior, as it is one of the greatest architectural jewels of French Gothic.
On the other hand, right next to the Cathedral, is the Palais du Tau, the building in which the French monarchs dressed before the coronation that occurred in the neighboring Cathedral. For this reason, both buildings are declared by Unesco as World Heritage Sites. The visit of both sites is something that will not take you more than two hours, although you have to know that in the palace there is a museum and you must pay the entrance fee, which has a cost of 8 € approximately.
Walk south to the Sciences Po campus
Although Reims is a relatively small city, it is a university destination. It has to do with the fact that not only is the local university located there, but there is also a campus for the Faculty of Sciences Po, one of the most important political science universities in the world.
So touring the facilities of this university campus is a recommendable plan both on a short trip and during a three-day visit to the city of Reims. Above all, because walking through these facilities is completely free and it is an architectural marvel that perfectly preserves several buildings from the medieval and post-Renaissance period combined with modern buildings.
Also, you should keep in mind that this university campus is located halfway in the direction of the next stop I included in your itinerary. Therefore, it is recommended that you reach this site through a walk along the famous Rue du Barbâtre, where you will also find different alternatives to eat at a very good price, something logical because it is a university district.
Get to the Basilica of Saint-Remi
Another important tourist attraction in the city of Reims is the Basilica of Saint-Remi, which together with the Cathedral and the Palace of Tau have been declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco. Since 553 it has preserved the relics of Saint Remigius, bishop of the city who according to Catholic beliefs converted Clovis, the first king of the Franks to unify the French territory as it is conceived today.
This building throughout its more than 1,000 years of history has evolved from a small chapel to a significantly large church that combines different architectural styles including Romanesque and Gothic. In addition, its historical importance is related to characters such as Charlemagne and events of the French Revolution.
It is open every day from Monday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. It is open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.. Although on weekends it extends its visiting hours until 7:00 pm. The basilica functions as a museum and, therefore, the approximate price of a ticket is about 3 € per person.
Close the day with a stroll through the Parc de Champagne
When you're tired of walking the streets and historic buildings in the center and south of Reims, you can take advantage of the proximity to one of the most beautiful urban parks in the city to disconnect and wait for the sunset. I am talking about the Parc de Champagne, an ideal place where you can stroll, enjoy the falling leaves of the trees in autumn or the good weather offered by the summer evenings and nights.
Access is free and it is a very safe park. Besides, public green spaces abound in this part of Reims and if walking to the Parc de Champagne is not something you are interested in, you can cross the bridge of lock number 10 to get directly to the Coulée Verte, another public park that extends along the banks of the river and is much closer to the Basilica of Saint-Remi.
Depending on where you are staying, you can choose where to dine, although my recommendation is that if you are staying in the center you walk to the Pont de Venise. You will find different alternatives of French, African, Moroccan and Algerian food.
Day 2: Be amazed by the beauty of this region
The other main asset of the city of Reims has to do with its privileged location within the Champagne region. And the fact is that this part of France is known worldwide for being the place where this type of sparkling wine is produced, which has an indisputable quality and has made this area of the country a World Heritage Site by Unesco. So I have oriented the second day so that you can explore the beauty of the surrounding countryside. I propose two alternatives in addition to an urban entertainment plan.
Do some shopping and have breakfast around the Fontaine de la Solidarité
The surroundings of this small square located in the center of the city of Reims are known for the fact that most of the commercial establishments are located there. Likewise, several restaurants are in this perimeter of four or five streets. Therefore, touring this area at breakfast time is a good way to start your second day. Especially, if you are interested in entering a store or two to do some shopping before continuing with your itinerary.
It is one of the most recommended areas to walk around during the month of December and is definitely part of the best things to do in Reims during Christmas, as it is an area oriented to shopping and consumption and many stores are decorated with lights and decorations.
Participate in a tour of the champagne production fields
The first alternative if you are thinking of participating in one of the best one-day tours from Reims would be a minibus tour that takes you through different wineries belonging to champagne producing families. This alternative is highly recommended for the fact that you can learn about the cultural traditions related to the wine world directly from its protagonists.
This is a very complete activity in which you will go along with a guide. In addition, you will be able to do different tastings in the different wineries. In fact, it is common to book the tour to the region of Epernay, the capital of champagne production in this region. As for the duration of the tour you have to know that it is four and a half hours. An excellent way to explore most of this region without worrying about additional expenses and with complete peace of mind.
- Price: a tour like this usually costs about 124 € per person.
Opt for a bike tour
At the same time there is the fact that you can enjoy the wine fields of the Champagne region in a slightly more active way if you book a champagne tour by electric bike. You'll enjoy five family winery tastings along with a typical French lunch.
Of these rides you need to know that part of the tour is combined by minibus, as the full excursion lasts seven hours including visits to restaurants, wineries and grape harvest fields. This is an activity available for the whole family, although it is important that the person is of a suitable height and weight to pedal an electric bicycle.
- Price: the average rate for this type of tour is about €188 per person.
Return to the center of Reims to enjoy a farewell dinner.
After you have enjoyed the guided tour and the best things to see and do in Reims during these 48 hours, end your trip in the city center with a farewell dinner before continuing your trip to other regions of France or your return home. There are an infinite number of restaurants where you could go to enjoy the best of the varied gastronomic proposals. Here are two examples:
- Le Tablier de Reims stands out as a recommendable alternative because its menu is focused on traditional French food.
- The Bistró des Anges is also an excellent option, especially for its proximity to the Cathedral Square.