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- 23 Jan 2020, 3 nights
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The unofficial Champagne capital of France, Reims is built on kilometres of underground storage and fermentation tunnels. However, Reims doesn't just cater to those looking for a glass of bubbles. The Reims Mountain Regional Nature Park, crisscrossed by hiking and biking trails, attracts fans of the great outdoors. Stroll around the city centre and you'll find museums housed in grand buildings, colourful food markets filled with French delicacies and vibrant cultural events.
Pick a Reims hostel with a communal kitchen so you and your fellow backpackers can cook up a storm with fresh produce from the market. On sunny evenings share a bottle of wine on an outdoor terrace or use free Wi-Fi to catch up with loved ones back at home. Some hostels in Reims have multilingual staff who can help you get the most out of your trip, and with a choice of dorms and private rooms in most hostels, solo travellers are well catered for too.
The centre of Reims is built around the Notre-Dame cathedral and the Place Royale town square. To the north, the Porte de Mars Roman arch marks the edge of the old city and the start of the stylish Boulingrin Quarter, known for its Art Deco covered market and delicatessens packed with local specialities. Stroll to the shopping street Rue de Vesle for fashion or Place Drouet d'Erlon for nightlife. Most of the world-renowned champagne houses are in the countryside to the east of town.
Any visit to Reim should start with a visit to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Cathédrale Notre-Dame, which was the coronation site of French kings for centuries. Next door you can visit the Palais du Tau, where they held lavish post-coronation banquets. When you get hungry, head to the renovated Halles du Boulingrin, a vast food market that also hosts music and art events. If you're only doing one Champagne tour make it Taittinger – where there are underground stores carved out by the Romans. For a day trip, head to Épernay, where Möet and Mercier have their houses.
From overseas you can fly to Charles de Gaulle Airport, which is just a 30-minute train ride from Reims. Gare de Reims train station is north of the city centre with connections to Paris, Épernay and Troyes, while the Champagne-Ardenne TGV train station southwest of the city is a stop on the express line south. You can use either bus, tram or city bike rental to get around the sights of Reims, although the city centre is fairly compact.