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One or two nights in Reims in context on a extended tour of France

After 4 nights in Paris, we are planning a 2 night stay in Reims, first and foremost to experience the cathedral honoring the inspiration of Joan of Arc as a courageous feminine leader. Finding lodging has proven a challenge so far. I sent an inquiry to the recommended Hotel Continental. Also checked the the $ recommendation, which seemed welcoming, but at this stage of our lives, we prefer ensuite bathroom facilities The websites are a bit challenging to navigate due to formatting along with less options to communicate in English.
The Rick Steves guide portrays the city worth at least an overnight. Is there something I need to know, traveler wisdom the recommends that once we spend time in the cathedral by way of a train trip from Paris, we redesign our journey?
At this point:
-Reims 2 nights
-Train back to Paris for rental car for drive to Honfleur for a 2night stay, with visit to Giverny visit along the way
-Bayeux 2 nights, honoring Normandy
-Mont Saint Michele 1 night on the Island
-Dinan 2 nights in Brittany
-Chartres 1 night
-return rental car in Paris, train to Lyon 3 nights
-train to Arles (Avignon, Aix) 4 nights
Thank you for your recommendations focused on lodging and time in Reims in the context on this journey.

Posted by
243 posts

I just took a look at Amiens...perhaps spending 1 night in Reims and then traveling by train to Amiens for a night.
Also, we would so rather travel by train. To what extent is the above itinerary doable without renting a car?

Posted by
12135 posts

Hi,

If you are going between Amiens and Reims, keep in mind that no matter which order you do this after Paris, you still have have go through Paris and two different train stations. From Paris Gare du Nord you can connect to Amiens, at Paris Gare de l'Est you connect to Reims.

Posted by
17089 posts

I think there are two other sites often visited in or near Reims: the Musee de la Reddition (WW II surrender) and the champagne houses. The museum is OK, but I found it not as interesting as many other museums about the war. Those who haven't seen others would likely be more impressed (but you're going to Normandy). And I don't care for champagne. So for me, the cathedral (magnificent) and an hour or two spent walking around would have been enough. The fact is that Reims is not (to me) nearly as attractive a city as many others in France. That's pretty much what I gleaned from reading this forum prior to my trip, and I found that the forum was correct.

Booking.com might yield some additional lodging options in Reims, but the city feels prosperous and may not have a lot of low-cost possibilities. If you don't want to see Reims on a day-trip (the cathedral is worth two visits), you might consider just one night there if champagne holds little interest for you. An extra night would be very useful in Normandy.

I made a rail-station switch in Paris by Metro. It wasn't a problem, but it could have been with heavier luggage.

Posted by
243 posts

Good advice. One night will suffice in Reims. Heard from the Continental, a bit pricey, and continuing to seek a B&B. There's time.
Amiens is drawing our interest and may warrant the other night, with the train route guidance in mind. The Cathedrals are a focus for our journey and explorations, filling us with fascination and appreciation of magnificently created public sanctuaries, essentially quiet spaces amidst the noises of everyday life in the course of human existence.
And the trains. We love the trains and have learned to travel light!
Thank you again for sharing insight and experience based wisdom.

Posted by
7286 posts

I agree very much with acraven... 2 hrs in Reims is more than enough. We did not care for the city at all, we found it the opposite of charming. The cathedral was incredible and worth those 2 hrs. I also agree that adding more time to Normandy is a much better use of time.

Posted by
664 posts

Not sure about trying this by train, but if you decide to drive from Reims to Amiens, be sure to stop in Laon. It is a splendid location up on a steep hill, with an early gothic cathedral.

Posted by
1500 posts

Hi Zag
What are your dates for reims? We are doing a day trip from Paris with the train then a 2CV car tour of the vineyards, champagne houses, tasting along the way. Plan to get there early, 10am on a saturday, walk around the plaza near train station, visit cathedral, have lunch at a restaurant there, heard you could walk in some tasting rooms nearby without a tour, then catch of 2 hour tour. Will be taking train back to paris that evening. Check booking.com what is available as in rooms in a hotel in reims. Read about a liquer they make with apples in normandy, calvados (apple brandy) with shops that having tasting, shops that sell their products, like jam and jellies, in the villages there.
Hope all works out in your favor and you have a great vacation. Happy travels
aloha princess pupule

Posted by
4281 posts

Besides the cathedral, I hope you have time to check out the third-century Roman gate (Porte de Mars), at the east end of the park in front of the station (across the park from the station, then left before crossing Blvd Foch, then a couple of long blocks. It's an easy walk from the station and/or the cathedral.

We stayed at the Continental and had an ensuite bathroom. The current rate for such a room about six weeks from now is 99 euros, per their website. We liked the hotel. It's right across the park from the station. You don't need a car in Reims unless you want to visit some of the vineyards or farther-out champagne houses.

The center of the city lacks the charm of some others because it was heavily damaged in both world wars. But it's mostly pedestrianized and we had a pleasant overnight stay on our way from Paris to Burgundy.

Posted by
243 posts

The price we were quoted from the Continental was 210 or 170 Euros per night.
We have found 2 quality B&B options for around 100 Euro.

Posted by
99 posts

Unless you're a champagne drinker, one solid half day to tour the cathedral is ample for Reims.

But, if your interest is cathedrals, you could fit Reims into a nice two-day sweep using a rental car. You could take the TGV to Reims, tour the cathedral and spend the night. Then pick up a rental car and drive to Laon. The cathedral there is in excellent condition and is remarkably uncrowded. We've been there when we were the only visitors. It's often possible to park right beside the building. Have lunch on the cathedral square and then drive on to Amiens touring the cathedral there either in the late afternoon or in the morning. Then you could drive from Amiens to Honfleur and go on with the rest of your itinerary.

Lodging in Reims is a problem. We've never had any luck with any of the RS guide recommendations. We've been most happy at the Ibis hotels, especially the one at Tinqueux, on the outskirts of Reims. That one would require you to pick up your car first and use it to drive into central Reims.

Bruce

Posted by
12135 posts

Hi,

"Cathedrals are the focus of our journey...." Then spend the time in Reims and Amiens as well. Roughly half way between Paris Nord and Amiens is Beauvais, another famous cathedral there. I recommend all three, went to Reims only once. That was in 1984, visited the cathedral too but it wasn't my top priority, the Surrender Museum was, likewise with Amiens, which I didn't get to until 1989.

Posted by
17089 posts

When I went through Reims about 2 months ago, the Porte de Mars was swaddled in some sort of white wrap. It looked like the world's largest package, prepared for shipping. I suspect it is still in that condition, but you might be able to find out by Googling.