In 7 words: Come for the cathedral or for champagne.
For your visit one day should be sufficient.
Distances are walkable, although a couple of sights are located some distance away with nothing remarkable between them and the town center (so you may want to use a bus).
Worthy attractions: Cathédrale Notre-Dame.
Left for another visit: Basilique and Musée St-Remi; Musée des Beaux Arts; Ancien Collège des Jésuites.
Last visit: February 2008.

Reims Cathedral
Reims is renowned the world over for its countless champagne labels, as well as for its magnificent Gothic cathedral. There are several other attractions to make it a worthwhile sightseeing stop, but in reality, unless you are in the area for a champagne tour, you are likely not to spend too much time in town.

Things to See

The town center is largely pedestrian and quite charming, even though its architecture is less than coherent (an unfortunate after-effect of the World War II bombing). Still, there are many attractive buildings in the near vicinity of the Notre-Dame, as well as many arcaded shopping alleys for those inclined to browse. The area stays rather active at night, with many restaurants and bars filling up.

The magnificent Gothic Cathédrale Notre-Dame ♥♥ (which closely resembles its Parisian namesake when viewed from out front) served as the stage for coronations for almost every monarch in French history. It is quite somber on the inside. There is plenty of statues and some stained-glass windows, including those by Marc Chagall. The overall harmony and monumentality of the cathedral is nonetheless very impressive, especially its west façade, decorated with over 2,300 statues.

The nearby Palais du Tau, the archbishop’s palace, has a couple of notable rooms and houses an exposition of statuary and tapestry from the cathedral, but is not very remarkable.

We did not visit Musée des Beaux Arts, which is home to more than twenty landscapes by Corot, as well as some impressionists and modern masters, alongside its collection of 15th- and 16th-century paintings. A couple of sights – Ancien Collège des Jésuites and Basilique and Musée St-Remi – are located in a modern quarter 15-20 minutes away from the cathedral, where we did not venture either.

Places to Eat

All places last visited in Winter 2008.

L’Apostrophe ♥♥♥, on the broad pedestrian Place Drouet d’Erlon, serves French food with Oriental slant. It is a happening place, spread over two levels, the lower of which acts as a bar/lounge/discotheque, as well as a proper restaurant. The upper level is a more formal restaurant seating area, but the overall atmosphere is hip and vibrant. The service is prompt and attentive, although the waiters seem to be always on the run.

Among our choices were sautéed chicken with noodles, Thai dumplings, duck dumplings with mushrooms, tongue (Tête), Parmentier de boeuf… Everything thoroughly delicious. Large wine and champagne selection. Our damage: €130 for a meal for four, including a bottle of wine.

Next door is Les 3 Brasseurs ♥ which offers a wide selection of brasserie fare and local specialties, including a variety of tartes flambées and an assortment of beers brewed on the premises. Very good soupe de poisson. Good service, although no flexibility in trying to satisfy a 7-year-old with peculiar tastes. A great place for lunch, nonetheless. Our damage: €65 for a lunch for four.

Other notes for France