In coming from Paris, Rémi and I were naturally more interested in exploring the countryside that surrounds Reims than the city itself.
Picturesque vineyards, curving roads and, according to one local, the first sunny weekend of the year, our weekend motorbike adventure was set to be a good one.
We passed the bulk of our time riding around Montagne de Reims, which, contrary to its name, is not a mountain but a subtle plateau. Here, we followed part of one of the regions five wine routes, circling from Reims to Epernay and beyond.
The champagne houses
There isn't much to do aside from enjoying the scenery and visiting the numerous champagne houses - from big ones like Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot, to smaller, independent cellars. (But that's often what's most pleasurable, isn't it, to do very little?)
We didn't drink as much champagne as we wanted as Rémi had to drive and I didn't want to compromise my ability to be a responsible passenger, so if you plan to go by vehicle it's not a bad idea to organise a tour, where someone else will do the driving for you.
Pit-stops for when you're on the road
If you're fine with skipping the booze I recommend stopping at the Chateau de Rilly, in Rilly-La-Montagne, where you can have a non-alcoholic beverage (okay, and alcoholic beverages too) on their sunny terrace or in their cozy bar. Another thing I liked was going to the village called Hautvillers (the ride to get there was one of my favourites of the weekend) and order a drink at one of the many cafés, restaurants and, yes, cellars. (The abbey at Hautvillers is apparently where champagne was invented some 300 years ago.)
Eating and Shopping
In the actual city of Reims we liked walking through the local market, where we picked up some saucisson and radishes to snack on. Just next door was a friendly drinking hole called Le Clos, whose outdoor setting, bright colours and mismatched furnishings to me vibed more West End (Brisbane) than France. They serve simple, bar-style food to go with the assortment of drinks: we had piping hot fish and chips and champagne under the sun and I am not at all complaining.
There's the cathedral, of course, where 31 kings of France were crowned, and next door is the Palais du Tau, where they held the coronation banquets, and where the royals slept.
Accommodation in Reims
Accommodation-wise, we stayed in a b&b/vineyard that grows pinot noir and asparagus. There are numerous places such as these all over the region, and hotels in the city of Reims if that's what you prefer.
For dinner, I recommend booking a table well in advance; we made our calls at the very last minute and it was the seventh restaurant that had space for us. Despite its fading appearance the meal at La Brasserie du Boulingrin was decent in that typical French bistro way, so it turned out to be a good enough consolation prize to the art-deco Café du Palais we were hoping to try, which I imagine would have served similar fare anyway.
More information about Reims
The Reims Tourism Office's website is a good place to learn more about the area.
And so - some more photos! A.