Reims Travel Diary
We travel a lot in France and I take a zillion pictures. I always say that I will make an album but never get around to it, until now!! because making travel diaries on MANNA is my new thing. Even if the trips happened a year ago. Sounds a bit silly to post old travels, but hey we mammas get busy and/or tired and/or just simply forget.
For those looking for a happy day trip from Paris, hopefully these pics from my trip last Summer to Reims will get you planning.
My girlfriend Amanda comes to Paris four times a year for fashion week. For 7 to 10 days she basically lives in the showroom or a restaurant with clients and associates. Last Summer she decided it was time to take advantage of her trips to France and explore a bit more. She wanted to crash with me and asked if I could help plan a fun day trip we could take with Victoria, Noomi as well as Estuardo and Raquel, who were visiting from El Paso. A quick search online turned up the usuals: Versailles, Giverny, and Fontainebleau. Then we scrolled a bit further through Google’s top hits and came to Reims. The city of Reims is known for its beautiful Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture, Champagne houses, as well as the coronations of the Kings of France. Why had I never been to this beautiful little city that is less than an hour away from Paris?
Tickets on SNCF were cheap and easy, which was perfect for us since we were a bit slow moving that morning. Twenty euros and 45 minutes later we were in the center of Reims.
We decided to first wander around the town with zero agenda just to enjoy the city. Reims is mostly a walking city so this worked perfect. For hot spots further out from the center it is easy to get a cheap taxi or Uber. When I travel, I love having a full day or a few hours that are unplanned to just wander and mix with the locals. I love doing this because it saves me getting stressed about missing out on sights and important monuments. Well I admit this often ends up with me loitering in parks or cafes with a drink in hand. And this trip was like that. We all sat down for lunch a bit on the early side. It was insanely hot that day, because la canicule had waved over Paris and Reims too.
We went to lunch at the Café du Palais, which while it might be a bit touristic it was perfect for us. The decoration is a crazy hodgepodge of kitschy Art Deco but the service is very family friendly. The classic French food and cold champagne were just what we needed. Of course we also nibbled on le biscuit rose de Reims, a local speciality. Like I said, it was so hot, but Noomi was lapping up the attention of her Latin aunties and the waitstaff and no one cared if she acted crazy.
Even after a bottle of champagne and jugs of cold water we were too hot to walk, so we cabbed it to Taittinger where we took a tour of the caves. The disadvantage of a last-minute trip to Reims, I learned, is that tours to a lot of the champagne houses book up fast, so best to book what you can in advance. (Veuve Clicquot is obviously the most popular and you need to book a week or more ahead of time.) However we were lucky enough to get a spot for our group to the Maison Taittinger, which was actually my friend Estuardo’s favorite. And yes…I was that mom who took a 2-year-old on a tour of the champagne caves. I was hoping she would have fallen asleep on the walk over and we could enjoy the tour in peace. Nope! Instead the long hallways of the cave served as a giant playground to her and she also sat with the tour guide and mimicked her actions. I was mortified, but the tour group was oddly entertained by her. It took a village to deal with Noomi that day.
We were all pooped after the tour, champagne tasting, and toddler chasing. Of course she fell asleep the moment we left the caves. We found a city bus back to the center of town to visit the Notre Dame de Reims cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage site, and where 25 French kings were crowned. (The cathedral facade is currently being restored, so it was challenging to get a good snap of the full exterior.) We peacefully took in the breathtaking gothic architecture, stained glass windows, and of course went on a hunt for the Smiling Angel on the facade.
Noomi woke up the second we left the cathedral, full of energy, and had a good run in the courtyard and around the surrounding sites. We had good intentions to visit the Palace de Tau, another UNESCO site, but the heat was too much for us. So we sat around outside the cathedral taking pics, then plopped down at a cafe for more champagne (to cool off). The last train from Reims to Paris was at 7pm, so we headed back to the station and were home in time to order from Take Eat Easy for dinner and bedtime.
Below are a few links and tips for you until I get time to make a proper travel guide to Reims. I hope this trip inspires you to take a quick day trip.
A little MANNA from Paris about taking a day trip to Reims:
- There are many great Art Deco and Champagne houses to visit, but plan and book those tours in advance. I had to find out the hard way most only take reservations.
- The city of Reims has a great website and app that is helpful and provides information on every site and restaurant in town.
- I returned to Reims with my husband after this trip to visit the Veuve Clicquot caves, which was just as wonderful as Taittinger. I took my toddler both times. It is not 100% peaceful but doable. You cannot take your stroller down so I recommend wearing your kid on your back in a carrier and sneaking a little snack to them to keep them occupied. I think next time I might even bring her an iPad with headphones…don’t judge.
- You can rent a car or take a train to Reims from Paris. The last train seems to be at 7pm, so I recommend arriving to town early to see all the sites and take a few tours.
Please contact me if you are traveling to Paris with kids and would like some tips and suggestions.
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