Considering Paris as a must-see on your next European sojourn? Well if you do, make sure to take an easy one-day tour from Paris to Reims, to see one of the most beautiful areas of northern France – Reims is also a place full of delectable sweet treats, great history and is of course, the locale for France’s most famous beverage, champagne.
Getting there is easy, as Reims is on the new Paris to Strasbourg railway, where a specially modified train set the world speed record of 356mph in 2015. Reims, the capital of the Champagne-Ardenne region, is just a 45-minute non-stop journey from Paris.
One of Reims’ biggest attractions is the 13th Century cathedral of Notre Dame in the heart of Reims, a great masterpiece of the Middle Ages; the Cathedral was badly damaged by First World War shelling. The Rockefeller Foundation helped to fund the restoration work and it reopened in 1938, as 25 kings of France were crowned there, this beautiful cathedral is an important player in France's regal history.
Reims also has modern history significance, for it is the place where Germany signed the surrender documents ending the Second World War in Europe. It was also the headquarters of General Eisenhower and the Allied forces - there is the Museum of Surrender where visitors can learn about this momentous part of 20th century history.
Alongside Reims’ great stone buildings which include the cathedral, part of the city's charm is its range of sweet specialty shops like L'Atelier d'Eric, the ideal place to go for brightly coloured macaroons, or you can head to Chocolaterie des Sacres for hand-made chocolates, or make your way to Fossier for pink Reims biscuits.
For wine lovers, Reims’ biggest attraction is its champagne houses. One of the region’s finest champagne houses is the House of Mumm, so be sure to take the one and a half hour Mumm Champagne Cellar Tour. Truly representative of the Champagne region, the House of Mumm welcomes visitors for a tour of the cellars where some 75 million bottles of the bubbly elixir are stored.
The tour takes you through the ancient cellars, where you can gain insight into Mumm’s celebrated champagne-making traditions and processes. Mumm’s point of difference from the other champagne houses, is its amazing museum that not just provides a history of this great House but also gives a great insight into wartime France. The tour ends with a comprehensive tasting session where you are blessed with the opportunity to sample some bubbly stuff.
If you fancy yourself as a champagne connoisseur, choose the ‘Cordon Rouge Experience’ tour and enjoy a tasting of the Champagne house’s signature Cordon Rouge Champagne, or the ‘G.H. Mumm Experience’ for the cellar tour with a tasting of two champagnes. One of these will be a blind tasting where you are required to use your sense of taste and smell to discover the different flavor combinations in the champagne.
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For those who feel that they are not so savvy about wine, fear not the regular tour does not require a special champagne palate but is more about the chance to delve deep into the ancient cellars and learn of the complex and traditional processes involved in the production of the famous Mumm Champagne. Your guide will tell you how the delicate grapes are harvested from the vine each year, and listen as your guide explains their treatment from cellar to glass.
Reims also boasts of other great champagne houses, like Lanson, Pommeroy, and Tattinger; so why not also experience another champagne house and this time indulge in a sweet fantasy of chocolate and champagne at Epernay on a two-hour tour. Small groups of no more than 14 are escorted by a winemaker and professional chocolatier, where they have the opportunity to sip pink champagne and sample exquisite homemade chocolates, all whilst driving around the scenic vineyards of Epernay. Champagne and chocolate - the perfect match.
So if Paris is on your next European itinerary, be sure to allow a day trip to Reims, and discover all that this truly picturesque region of France has to offer. For an area that is steeped in wartime history, has incredible 13th century architecture, and allows you to taste the very best champagne and chocolate that will transport your senses to the heavens - what’s not to like?