143km (89 miles) E of Paris; 45km (28 miles) NW of Châlons-en-Champagne

Blessed with a gorgeous cathedral, site of royal coronations for a thousand years, Reims (pronounced “rahns”) is the largest city in the region and the unofficial capital of that deliciously fizzy nectar known as champagne. While it was almost obliterated by bombing during World War I, parts of the historic center have survived, including the above-mentioned cathedral, which has been beautifully restored. If it is not as quaint as other French cities, it is a lively and interesting place to visit, with a large pedestrian-only shopping district and plenty of historic monuments.

The main draw here though, aside from the cathedral, is bubbly. Some of the most famous names in champagne are found here, including Pommery, Mumms, and Ruinart; all offer tours and tastings. Reims makes a good base for exploring the Champagne region, and is just a short hop from the vineyards of Epernay.