Quick guide to... Reims
Lying in the heart of the Champagne winegrowing region, Reims contains one of France’s most impressive cathedrals, tree-lined boulevards and several fine-dining restaurants. The city also makes an excellent base for exploring the Route de Champagne.
What can I see and do? Begin your visit in the vieille ville, which is dominated by the 13th-century Gothic cathedral ( main picture), a towering, lavishly decorated building. It was here and in previous churches on the site, that 34 French sovereigns were crowned between 816 and 1825.
A short distance away lies the Palais du Tau where the princes stayed before their coronations and held banquets afterwards. The building is now a museum displaying liturgical objects and tapestries from the cathedral.
For an insight into the city’s role in World War II, visit the Musée de la Reddition, which is housed in the former headquarters of US General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commander of the allied forces. Original battle maps, photographs and military uniforms are on display.
A visit to Reims isn’t complete without going to the Taittinger champagne house, 1.5km south-east of the city centre. You will learn about how the fizz is produced and tour the cellars ( pictured above), some of which date from the 4th century.
Where are the best places to eat? For hearty French classics, try l’alambic (menus from €14, restaurant-lalambic.fr). Set in a vaulted cellar, the restaurant serves dishes such as pigeon in mustard sauce, and cod fillet with choucroute.
Another great place for classic cuisine is Anna – S, La Table Amoureuse (menus from €29, annaslatableamoureuse.com). Highlights include Arctic char with a Champagne jus and fillet of veal in a rich morel sauce.
For sheer indulgence, with a price tag to match, it is hard to beat the threeMichelin-starred L’assiette Champenoise (menus from €95, as si et te champe noise. com). Chef Arnaud Lallement’s dishes include such delights as milk-fed lamb with preserved vegetables, and John Dory served with a spicy beetroot jus.
Where can I stay?
Book into the four-star Best Western Premier Hôtel de la Paix (doubles from €127.50, bestwestern-lapaixreims.com), less than a ten-minute walk from the cathedral and the railway station. The 164 rooms are modern and have satellite TV, air-conditioning and a mini-bar.
Get me there!
Trains from Gare de l’est in Paris take around 45min (tel: 0844 848 5848, voyages-sncf.com).