Paris trip journal: Other things to see (and eat) in Reims

There’s more to Reims than champagne

Yesterday, I recounted my delightful experience tasting champagne at GH Mumm in Reims. In between sips of champagne, Reims is a charming town worth exploring further.

Pronunciation refresher:  “Reims” isn’t phonetic. The pronounciation is closer to “rahnce.” Kind of like “France,” or “danhse” if you are comically pretentious. 

Reims France

Now the people will know the Romans were here

One of the first things you’ll see in Reims when leaving the train station is a large wall, la Porte de Mars, the last remaining gate  guarding the old city when the Romans were roaming around.

[The header is a Canadian inukshuk joke. That will be an odd sentence if you're not Canadian.]

Reims Porte de Mars

Sweet treats

Reims is almost as famous for its biscuits roses as it is for its champagne. No small coincidence, biscuits roses are meant to be dunked in champagne. If you can do it with the flourish of a fancy person, all the better in my opinion.

There is only one place to buy them: Fossier. Technically, there are many places to buy them, but Fossier has made them for hundreds of years, along with other delicious baked treats.

I visited the Fossier shop on Cours Jean-Baptiste Langlet, on the way to the cathedral. The shop’s staff are friendly and happily offer up some product samples when you walk through the door. More importantly, the prices are somewhat better buying direct from Fossier instead of buying biscuits roses at gift shops around town.

Reims Fossier biscuits roses
Reims Fossier biscuits roses  Reims Fossier biscuits roses

After the fact, I found out there’s a factory tour. If anyone out there does it, please report back and spare no detail.

I made it all of one block before discovering more sweet treats. This time, it was chocolates and macarons at La Petite Friande.

Reims macarons La Petite Friande
Reims Chocolates La Petite Friande  Reims macarons La Petite Friande

Cathedral of Kings

Reims also has a rather magnificent Gothic cathedral (800 years old and counting!). Once the site of coronations of French kings, today, the cathedral is known for its magnificent architecture and stained glass window designed by Marc Chagall.

Reims cathedral
Reims cathedral gargoyle Reims cathedral chandelier

I was charmed by its zoo-animal gargoyles and opulent chandeliers. What really blew me away was the range of interesting stained glass windows. The Marc Chagall windows, installed in the 1970s, are by far the most famous set.

Reims cathedral Marc Chagall stained glass windows

A set of windows installed in the 1960s by Brigitte Simon are simple in presentation, but richly detailed.
Reims cathedral window Brigette Simon water

I could have spent the rest of the day looking at the Champagne Window, illustrating the historical method for harvesting and producing champagne, overseen by angels, of course.
Reims cathedral champagne window

And there’s more…

Reims still has more to offer for a daytrip. Its renown as a champagne destination means there are lots of restaurants and shops in the compact city centre area. Wide sidewalks and pedestrian malls make it safe for strolling, a quiet reprieve after the frenzied energy of Paris. There’s a quieter Musée des Beaux Arts, and the Musée de la Reddition – Museum of the Surrender – in the building where the Germans formally surrendered at the end of World War II, is a fascinating piece of history.

To plan your day trip to Reims, visit their detailed and up-to-date tourist information site, or stop in to the tourist information centre right outside the entrance at the Reims train station.

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