I sometimes freak myself out at how much I OVER-plan things for us to do. We were pretty tired from our trip to Cherbourg but I couldn’t resist getting tickets for the magnificent Marie Antoinette fireworks show. Since I still had the rental car for one more day, I decided it would be worth going since we could drive there from Paris. It was on a Friday evening so we surprised Liv after picking her up from school. The event was held in the beautiful Jardin Orangerie at Versailles. Of course, Liv wore her Marie Antoinette dress.
Although it was entirely in French, we were able to follow the story of Marie Antoinette’s life in Versailles. It was a whimsical show mixed with classical music and the most insane fireworks ever. Even the character’s costumes had fireworks. As tired as we were, the show was definitely worth it. We all agreed that it was the most spectacular fireworks show we have ever seen!
However, it was painful to get up at 5am the next morning to catch our 6am train to Reims. The good news was the trip was only 90 minutes long which felt like an instant on the high speed train. We were able to take a quick nap on the train.
Traveling from Gare l’est is the best. It’s only a ten minute bus ride away and it’s one of my favorite stations as far as cleanliness, food kiosks and because I use the SNCF app, I just scan a QR code on my phone to board the train.
Reims is in the Champagne region of eastern France and as much as you may want to pronounce it was Rey-ims…for some weird reason it’s pronounced Rance, like rhymes with France.
We hopped on the tram as soon as we arrived. Hooray for easy, accessible public transportation! This was a rare occasion that I didn’t have an itinerary scheduled for a trip. I always check out the Atlas Obscura website when we visit a new place. I usually visit the local church first, then see a landmark the area is known for and find somewhere off the beaten path. Liv and I also use our MAPS book as a guide to learn about the location we are seeing. It’s super informative and we adore the illustrations. I knew we wanted to go to the local champagne tasting rooms but since Liv was with us, I didn’t make a reservation. I wanted to check out the school named after President Roosevelt where the Germans signed the unconditional surrender of WWII. Liv got May 7th off from school in Paris for Victory Day. I never heard much about WWII when I was in school in America other than Pearl Harbor and Memorial day (which is pretty much celebrated with douchey spring break partying rather than reflection on the horror of war). My Mom always tells me that the reason why Europe is so forward thinking, and provides universal healthcare for their citizens is because they survived a war, so they know how to come together as a nation. Americans are a mess, PLEASE VOTE IN NOVEMBER!
Proud history nerd! Next we went to see Our Lady of Reims cathedral. It was built in 1211 and it is where all the kings of France were crowned. The church has been destroyed by fire but rebuilt many times. In 2011, the city of Reims celebrated her 800th anniversary! The French really know how to build a church.
Of course Liv lit a candle and we bought a souvenir coin to add to her collection.
Our next stop was to find a place for lunch. We walked around town but most places were closed since it was too early. We stopped in Flying Tiger because Liv loves that store.
I wish I bought this cute hand-crank fan because it was the hottest day ever! We couldn’t resist to pick up a bag of chocolates to snack on while we searched for a place to eat.
It was during World Cup fever so we got soccer themed white chocolate. We stopped by Maison Fossier, Liv loves their rose biscuits but we didn’t want to carry around the huge box all day and they sell them at Monoprix.
We encountered this awesome farmers market and sampled the fruit but they didn’t have any restaurants so we continued our search. We always seem to be too early or too late for lunch!
We noticed brasseries began to put out champagne bottles while we were walking by but we couldn’t start drinking before eating something. Liv and I got a ice cream cone to cool us down since it was like 100 degrees.
As tempting as those lovely avocado tarts looked, we continued walking around town to find a place to sit down and eat. We kept getting unlucky because I wanted to visit the town hall but of course it was closed for repairs.
We finally found an interesting place that was opening for lunch in a few minutes wait.
We were so happy to order fish n’ chips!
We enjoyed being able to lounge and get out of the sun. Of course as soon as we started eating the crowds arrived and everyone started smoking, cough!
So I knew it was time for a glass of champagne. We walked to this cool looking place.
When we inquired about a tasting they informed us they were closing early so no walk-ins. Merde! I called to see if we could make a reservation for the Perching bar which was outside of Reims.
I saw it on Pinterest and it looked very cool however they didn’t allow anyone under 18 inside so if we went, Liv would have to stay outside of the bar area. There was also a 40 minute drive to get there and Reims didn’t have Uber. The owner gave me a phone number of a car service but the driver wanted €45 each way in cash. We decided to decline because it would have taken too long to drive out there, plus the fare seemed excessive. We ended up walking back to the place we went to for lunch because I couldn’t leave without having some champagne.
To be honest, the champagne was just meh. Antz likes it more than I do. I think it’s too expensive (a bottle started at €75!) We noticed the Veuve Clicquot tasting room was closed while we were walking to the train station.
If you want to go champagne tasting in Reims, make an advance reservation!
We walked past a medieval church and a plaque dedicated to Joan d’Arc. It was too hot to really enjoy a walk around town so we headed for the train station a few hours early and waited in their air conditioned lobby.
Au revior Reims! Antz and I will have to return without the kid to share a bottle of bubbly.