Escapes in Champagne
For wine or fine food, or simply to find out more about a region not too far from Paris, Champagne offers a lot of sights to see and things to do. Here is a short guide to discover how to live Champagne style.
Reims, the dazzling
Fascinating by its size, the Cathedral Notre-Dame de Reims is the symbol of a historical legacy witnessing the crowning of many French kings.
A true jewel of Gothic architecture, with many stained-glass windows that have made it one of France’s most beautiful cathedrals; its towers peak at 81 meters. From May to September, a sound and light show is projected on its frontage where you can glimpse, on the West portal, its famous Smiling Angel. Nearby, experience the Palais du Tau, residence of the Reims archbishops as well as the kings and their courts who came to the city upon numerous sacred ceremonials. A detour around the Place Royale, built in honor of King Louis XV and showing off typical 13th century architectural style, leads to the ruins of the Roman Place du Forum and its central Cryptoportico. It is a buzzing area full of lively bars and restaurants close to the Hôtel Le Vergeur museum, alongside with the Hôtel de Saint Jean Baptiste de la Salle.
As it cannot be overlooked, the Vogt family has owned Le Café du Palais since 1930. Experience an unusual interior: a drawing by Marc Chagall, a huge piece by Christian Lapie and, on the ceiling, stained glass by masterglassmaker Jacques Simon made in 1928. You won’t be able to resist a wonderful plate of veal sweetbreads with smooth potato purée and mushrooms, and you will always have room for the enormous Floating Island dessert with its famous Reims pink biscuits.
Fancy some pastries or a light snack? Let’s head to Le Tau by L’Opéra (inside of the Palais du Tau). If you are looking for homemade and organic sandwiches and salads, try the utterly delicious Lou Créative Food (behind the cathedral). The Bar at L’Hôtel de La Paix (inside the Best Western hotel) is a one-of-a-kind destination where tourists, entrepreneurs, locals Art-de-vivre lovers come together. It has a cozy and welcoming lounge alongside with a magnificent inner courtyard.
Reims, Saturday morning.... There’s nothing better than a market to get the feel for a town. And the Marché du Boulingrin is ideal.
As well as the very attractive renovated halls where craftsmen and farmers sell their produce, this area is a village within the town, full of little bars and restaurants. The ideal occasion to rub shoulders with local councillors and MPs, celebrities and neighbours in a relaxed atmosphere.