This is the place to be in Reims, the rich champagne city full of history


Statue Joost Stokhof

In 2012, Belgian Maxime and Anna Ullens de Schooten (male 37, female 31) discovered a dilapidated property in the village of Hermonville, near Reims, and wanted to renovate it immediately – Maxime was a civil engineer. But when a land expert on the estate discovered ancient vines that had survived the war, fire and grape aphid epidemic in the 19th century, history took a completely different turn. Maxime and Anna Ullens de Schooten focused on developing the vineyard and making their own champagne. He went to wine growing school, she continued to study international wine trade. They were allowed to open a new champagne house in 2016 and the first champagne Ullens from their Domaine de Marzilly came on the market in 2019. The following year, in 2020, Maxime Ullens de Schooten was named by the gastronomy guide Gault Millau named winemaker of the year.

Champagne City

Anna Ullens de Schooten: ‘Reims in the north-east of France is the champagne city, of course especially for us. It has a rich champagne history, which is completely mixed with the modern life here. In and around Reims are the large, old champagne houses, but just as good new, smaller ones. Many Parisians also come to the city, from Paris to Reims it is only 40 minutes by train. Yes, our own Ullens champagne is certainly served in the region, for example at Attis, a restaurant in the middle of Chenay’s vineyards. ‘

Restaurant Attis, 3 Place Boisseau, Chenay

A thousand champagnes

‘Our cuvéer are also available next to the cathedral, at the Caves des Sacres, which sells nothing but champagne, all from the region, over a thousand different varieties. This specialty store has an incredible selection of both the large and the smaller houses from the area. ‘

Caves des Sacres, Place du Cardinal Lucon 7

romance

‘Cathédral Notre-Dame de Reims is the natural center of Reims with its wonderful rose window. But I would also like to mention the Basilique Saint-Remi, an impressive Romanesque church from the 11th century and the oldest church in Reims. It is such a rich, historic city. The basilica was so damaged in World War I that the restoration took at least forty years. ‘

Basilique Saint-Remi, Rue Saint-Julien

Fire truck

‘Hotel Caserne Chanzy is so close to Notre-Dame that you have a beautiful pontifical view from some of the rooms. The hotel has a terrace at the foot of the cathedral, a champagne bar and a French restaurant called La Grande Georgette, named after a famous red fire truck from 1924, which is now on display in the Automobile Museum in Reims. ‘

La Caserne Chanzy Hôtel & Spa and La Grande Georgette, 18 Rue Tronsson Ducoudray

Reims-Champagne Automobile Museum, 84 Avenue Georges Clemenceau

Brioche in the salon

‘Harold’s pink parasols and pink chair cushions immediately catch the eye. Restaurant Harold is right in the center and is known for its special brunch menu for late Sunday mornings or early Sunday afternoons. There is also a tea room with fifty types of tea and delicious sweets such as waffles, brioche and lemon meringue pie on the menu. ‘

Restaurant Harold27 Rue de Vesle, Passage du Commerce

Steam kitchen and sculpture garden

‘At Vapeurs et gourmandises they present in their own words cuisine French modernand to the damp, all steamed dishes. The restaurant has a fresh, white interior and everything is very affordable. Vapeurs et gourmandises is located near the Charles Sarazin Park, which is more of a backyard than a park, with statues and benches – a small oasis in the city. ‘

Vapeurs et gourmandises, Place du Forum 22

Square Charles Sarazin, Rue Pluche

Good and very good wines

‘It’s not just champagne that counts, not just anyway. We know two fine wine bars in the center. Le Coq Rouge is a small cozy bar with good and very good French wines and a tasty drink menu. And at Aux 3 p’tits bouchons, at Boulingrinmarkt, organic and biodynamic wines are sold and served at the bar with a generous table of charcuterie. ‘

Le Coq Rouge, 67 Rue Chanzy

Aux 3 p’tits bouchons, 29 Rue Henri IV

Cheese, fish, oysters

‘We like to shop at the covered, high Boulingrin market at La Porte de Mars, the Roman gate from the 3rd century. For bread, eggs, vegetables, fruits, meat and cheese. At the market, please stop by Crémerie Viellard, the cheese shop with an excellent selection of cheeses. My advice is to get on the market early, very early, otherwise the best is already gone. For fish, we prefer to go a little further away, to toxins Placet, a fantastic fish shop with a large selection of fresh fish, seafood and different types of oysters. Reservations are useful, the fish are sold quickly. ‘

Halles du Boulingrin, 50 Rue de Mars

Ets Placet, Rue Alberto Santos Dumont

Goosefoot Park

‘Reims is also a fairly green city and I think the Parc de la Patte d’Oie, literally the goosefoot park, is surprisingly green and beautiful. It is an 18th-century landscape park with waterfalls, fountains and a music dome. ‘

Parc de la Patte d’Oie, 73 Boulevard du Général Leclerc

Vineyards and knotted beech trees

‘La Route touristique du Champagne is simply the wine tour for anyone visiting Reims. There are several routes, past villages, centuries-old buildings, spiers and past the ubiquitous rolling, green, striped vineyards. One of the routes also goes through our village of Hermonville. The forest Les Faux de Verzy, which is also located on one of the routes, is worth mentioning with its gnarled, erratic and strangely beech trees, a mysterious forest. ‘

Les Faux de Verzy, Verzy

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