Reims (rhymes with prance) is only a 45 minute TGV ride from Paris. Situated in Champagne country, it is the perfect side trip. We stayed at an AirBnB for one night in this really beautiful apartment with a very nice lady and explored the city for about 24 hours. Here are some of the highlights:
Pink Red Biscuits de Reims: These rose flavoured treats are a great thing to bring back. The problem is, you can really buy them anywhere in the world, even the specialty cookie shop in your home town. But, they are made here! Reims is really proud of their specialities, as are all regions of France, so it’s good to celebrate them while you’re in the area, even if globalization has ruined the specialness of it.
Champagne: Yes, you are only allowed to call this champagne because it comes from champagne. There are many caves to visit near Reims, but the one we chose was Pommery, given that they had a tour in English and no pre-booking was necessary. We walked about a mile out of town to get there. Unfortunately, we missed the English tour and took the French one. We’s sad to say we didn’t understand a single word, but you do get a coupe of champagne at the end of the tour. Travel tip: don’t buy directly from the winery in this case. Go to a grocery store and get it even cheaper. In Reims they have a wine warehouse where you can get bottles for reasonable prices.
Cathedral: It is the pride and joy of this small french town and it is really amazing. When I was in Greece last September with my students and we were climbing up to a fort, one of the students said, “Not another f-ing fort to climb!” He said that every time his family goes to a european city, they always climb up a fort. I was thinking I feel the same way about cathedrals. I couldn’t identify which is which in a line up, but it’s nice to go in while you’re there. Actually, I think this is probably the most memorable one I’ve been after Notre Dame and Chartres.
The Forum: These are roman ruins in the city and they are actually fairly useful today. There are a few good restaurants around it (we went to the Bistrot de Forum, which was excellent) and you can just kind of wander in and play around on the steps. At lunch, people eat their picnics on the old steps.
We are thinking about going back to a different city in the region in November. We would choose to rent bikes and ride to some of the more outlying vineyards. No rainbow sightings at all! However, we’ll keep our eyes peeled next time.