Hello Internet Peoples!
France is fabulous, and living in Picardie is lovely. But sometimes, you have to think outside the box; or in this case, the region.
I told you about my OAP Saturday adventure to Pierrefonds, which was wonderful, and I kind of thought it would be unbeatable… but then, we went to Reims.
(Pronunciation- it’s not what you think. Say “rinse”. Now replace the “i” with an “a”. Now put a strong, throaty “R” at the beginning. There you go!)
Myself, Rebekah and Mareen (the lovely German assistant) booked a BlaBlaCar and set of one particularly cold Saturday morning, to broaden our horizons. BlaBlaCar, if you don’t know, is basically a website where you can book to carpool with people. A bit like Uber, except these people are going to these places anyway, and you’re basically contributing towards petrol. It’s by far one of the cheapest ways to get around, and it’s especially useful if you’re on a tight budget. Better if you can speak a bit of French, to keep the conversation going, but still, SUPER cheap, and a different way to get from place to place!
To get from Compiègne to Reims, it took about two hours. The journey was pretty cool- I usually take the trains to get around here, so it was kind of nice to see France from a different perspective. We were dropped off in an commercial estate, where we were told we could get a bus into town from there. After a quick KFC, we were on our way! Until. two minutes later, I realised I’d left my bag in KFC. Damn.
Half an hour later, after talking on the phone to a very rude KFC worker, my bag safely in my arms again, we were on our way! It took about twenty minutes to get into the city centre, and from there, we navigated our way to the amazing Cathedral. Like every church in France, you just have to go and see it. We lit candles, took a spin around the inside, and then left, in search of a tourist office.
Let me tell you; if you find yourself in Reims, and you need directions, get into that tourist office. The ladies there are SO LOVELY! They speak French, English and German, and were so excited to meet us, not to mention incredibly helpful. We were given a free map, as well as a tonne of advice of things we could do. In the end, we decided to do a champagne tour, as this is after all the champagne region. If you don’t know, I work in a whiskey distillery back home, and so getting to see the process of alcohol being made sounded pretty damn fabulous to me! The lovely tourist office lady was able to book us in for a tour and tasting, and we set off to find G. H. Martel.
Funnily enough, we picked the cutest day to visit, as on our way there, we stumbled into the middle of a parade! There were people dressed up in costumes, handing out champagne, and bands playing very recent music on traditional instruments. I have no idea what they were celebrating; all i know is, I enjoyed it!
We found the Martel building, and headed inside for our tour. The tour and tasting last for about one hour, and they do tours in English and in French. We opted for the English time slot, and our guide had perfect English- with a very cute French accent, of course! The tour was pretty good- a short video explaining the process, followed by a tour of the caves, and how the used to make champagne. It was really cool to learn the difference between brut, sec and demi-sec, and to hear about the history of the site. The only downside is that this particular tour is a museum; production has since moved outside of the city. Nonetheless, a generous three-drink tasting made up for that. We tried a brut, a sec, and then we had a choice of three for our last drink. All were so delicious- so much so, that between myself and Mareen, we ended up carting six bottles home!! It’s gonna make GREAT gifts though!
On the train ride back home, it started to snow. It was honestly so magical, I cannot recommend a visit to Reims enough! If you want to see a particular champagne maker, go during the week. Only three of the distilleries are open on a Saturday! All in all, I think this is a truly lovely place, well worth seeing.
Overall rating of Reims: 8/10
- Also a great place to do some shopping- has all the typical shops you’d expect to find in France (I picked myself up a new scarf!)
- Easily navigated by the tramways
- Great tourist office- go in just for the craic!
If you found this useful, I’m super glad! Feel free to ask any questions if you’d like.