This article is part one of a two-part series about life in Reims. This article was inspired by the author’s own frustrations with Reims life and reflects the author’s internal conflict on the issue.
Trains to Paris, buses to Amsterdam, flights to Dubai — everyone seems to be trying to escape Reims, even if just for the weekend. This sentiment is confirmed by a widespread narrative on campus that Reims is a mediocre city at best, and at worst, a torturess prison with nothing to do. This narrative is even shared by some of our professors. Recall last year when one professor said in front of a full lecture-hall that there is little to do in Reims besides drink.
If we trace the roots of this narrative we find that there are a few issues at play:
Firstly, for many of us, studying at the college universitaire in the Reims is just an unfortunate obstacle we need to past in order to study a Master’s in Paris. For others, Reims is the only campus compatible with their exchange or dual-degree program. This means many students do not choose Reims on its own merits, and that makes us predisposed to not liking it.
Secondly, many make the mistake of comparing Reims to their hometowns. For those of you who come from a big city like New York or Paris, are you not expecting a little too much from Reims? After all, Reims never claimed to be “a concrete jungle where dreams are made of” or that “Il y a tout ce que vous voulez à la Place d’Erlon”.
The anti-Reims narrative is pervasive and as discussed, there may be ample reasons for it. But maybe you are not looking hard enough. Maybe you simply have not given Reims a chance.
Here are 9 reasons to get excited about our town:
Reason 1: The canal offers endless possibilities
The canal that passes through the center of Reims is possibly the most underutilized resource this city has to offer. Not only is it a perfect place for a Sunday jog, with its seventeen kilometers of beautifully paved and nationally certified greenways, but it is also perfect for cycling or even rollerblading! Be sure to take advantage of the various parks beside the canal which are ideal for picnics. The path is well-lit at night, and thus, with enough imagination and a bottle of wine, it is almost as good as the Seine!
Reason 2: Reims est la cité des rois, mais aussi des parcs!
If you live around Sciences Po, chances are the most nature you have seen in the last week is in the courtyard of our campus. That is a shame, because Reims is home to six grand parcs. Most notably, the Parc de Champagne, a mere twenty-minute walk from campus. This park features a massive green space, impeccable landscaping, a fitness area, two basketball courts and ping-pong tables. Just be sure to check opening hours online before you go! If following schedules is not your thing, Parc Léo-Lagrange is open 24/7 and offers greenspaces and a BMX/skate park.
Reason 3: The greenways of the region offer over one-thousand kilometers of car-free cycling.
Do not skip over this section just because you do not have a bicycle! You can pick up a perfectly decent ride for well-under one hundred euros on Leboncoin, so there are no excuses! The region of Grand-Est has around one thousand kilometers of bicycle paths, of which four hundred are in the old region of Champagne-Ardenne. That means you do not have to worry about traffic and can focus on the nature around you!
Reason 4: Parc Naturel Régionale de la Montagne de Reims
Only twenty minutes via TER from Reims, you find yourself in the middle of the Reims Mountain Regional Park with miles of vineyards, forest, and numerous small villages. This area offers miles of hiking and mountain-biking trails, as well as many low-traffic roads for cycling (bikes are allowed on the TER). If you have not been to this area you are seriously missing out!
Reason 5: The weekly market at Les Halles du Boulingrin
Three times a week at Les Halles du Boulingrin (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) you can enjoy a selection of hundreds of different fruits, vegetables, flowers, and meats. You will generally save money on these items compared to your local supermarket and it is great fun to converse with local producers and vendors.
Reasons 6: The center of Reims
This seems like an obvious one, but it is a point worth reiterating. It is easy to forget when living near Sciences Po that the center of Reims is pretty, historical and lively. Check the Reims Municipality’s website for market dates and special events, because there are plenty! Compare the center of Reims to the center of my hometown of Chelmsford, Massachusetts and you will quickly to appreciate the center of Reims.
Reason 7: Low cost of living
Every Parisian that visits my apartment tells me that the kitchen is about the size of their entire apartment and that they pay more per month than I do. When you are studying a Master’s at the Paris Campus, there is no doubt you will wish you could trade your 9 meter square apartment for something a little more reasonable.
Reason 8: Reims is a city of history, art and culture
The Museum of Fine Arts, the Museum of Fort de la Pompelle, the Museum of the Reddition, the Museum of Saint-Remi, the Automotive Museum, and the Aeronautical Museum make up most of the museums in Reims. There are even student discounts on tickets!
If you museums are too dull for your liking, check out the Opera or watch a football match.
Reason 9: Reims is the perfect place to pick up a hobby!
Stuck in our ways, we forget that learning something new does not have to happen in school! Here are some activities that are easy to do and learn in Reims. There are two indoor and one outdoor climbing wall in Reims and day-passes start at 13 euro. Go-Karting for beginners in Reims costs 20 euros for a day-pass. Airsoft and paintball costs 17 euros, you can play in Witry-les-Reims (accessible by bus, see Marne Mobilities).
So there you have it! Reims is like anywhere, it has its faults, but the end of the day it is what you make of it. So get out there and enjoy what Reims has to offer!
Born in Colorado, raised in Massachusetts; Patrick Bauer-Blank is an American in-passport-only who found his heart on exchange in Costa Rica. He started Sciences Po at the Dijon campus, but is currently a 2A EURAM at Reims. He’s overly cynical about yesterday, but naively optimistic for tomorrow. He plans to be a litigator, but dreams of traveling the world on a motorcycle.