Out of the city, over the hills, and through the trees and vines early one morning we traveled to Reims…
Reims lies just north-east of Paris in the Champagne-Ardenne region of France. Once a major city in France and Europe, it was the site of the crowning of the French monarchy, a textile producer and liberal arts educator in the middle ages, and of course the home of champagne.
Reims is connected to Paris by a high-speed train, an easy one hour journey, making this the ideal day trip from the French capital. Although after a day you will wish you were spending a few days in this beautiful region!
Arriving in Reims just after 9 am, the city was slowly greeting the day. Along Place Drouet d’Erlon, Reims main pedestrian street, the cafes were coming to life, with shop keepers sweeping and opening the windows. The quite grey morning was a romantic, welcomed change from the hustle and noise of Paris.
Walking along the quite streets and galleries, past the Opera House, we made our way towards the towers of the imposing Reims Cathedral.
Notre-Dame of Reims is an impressive example of Gothic architecture. First erected between 1211-1516 the Reims Cathedral served as the coronation site of French kings. Its’ tragic history and subsequent rebuilds has seen this beautiful Cathedral occupied by foreign forces, burned, and damaged during war. Words can not convey the beauty and majestic nature of this Cathedral.
From the Cathedral we walked through the city centre’s narrow streets, through the Square de la Porte de Mars, to the House of GH Mumm – our first tour of the day. Our small tour guided us through the cellars of Mumm, learning about the process of producing champagne and history of this famed House. The scale of the House and tour was much smaller than one might expect from this producer, it was charming and intimate. We were warmly welcomed, our guide was professional, knowledgable and engaging. The tasting that concluded the tour included a glass of the Rose and the 2006 Vintage Champagne.
Our second tour of the day was at the House of Pommery. This tour was completely different to our tour at Mumm. The property of Pommery is a beautiful fantasy land. Arriving through the tall gates you are greeted by blue evergreens, neon lights, and the castle like exteriors of the buildings. Pommery has a rich history of supporting the arts, which was well reflected in our tour – The Art of Champagne. I would recommend approaching this tour as you are touring an art gallery with a champagne tasting at the end. With that approach it was an interesting juxtaposition of French modern art housed in the dusty cellars that once produced champagne.
After a full day of history sites and champagne tasting we sleepily and a little sadly boarded the train to return to Paris. It was just enough time to glimpse at this famed region of France. A prefect day trip, that left you wanting more and eager to return!