France is home to the most prestigious sparkling wine producers in the world. When it comes to exploring the heart of the Champagne region, the choice between the main cities Reims and Epernay often comes into question.
Both French towns offer unique experiences. If you’re more drawn to history, arts, and culture and you love the bustling city life, Reims is the place to be. But if your main goal is to explore the vineyards, Epernay is where you go.
However, there’s much more than appreciating museums and art galleries in Reims, and Epernay offers more than wine tours and tastings.
In this post, we’ll guide you through the different sites and activities that both Reims and Epernay offer. And, no matter which city you opt to stay in, we’ve put together a list of amazing lodging options to save you time.
Is Epernay Near Reims?
This is one of the most crucial questions to ask if you want to explore the two cities. The Champagne wine region is huge, and accessibility is everything. It’s particularly important if you’re trying to have an Epernay or Reims day trip with limited time.
Epernay and Reims are relatively near, so planning a day trip to explore both towns can be doable. The two are just 23 kilometers (14 miles) apart, while the driving distance is 27 kilometers (16 miles). If you’re headed to either of the two towns from Paris, you’ll find that they are the same distance.
However, Reims tend to be more accessible and you’ll get there in roughly 1 hour. If you travel from Paris to Epernay, on the other hand, it may take an average of 1.5 hours.
Renting a car or taxi is an excellent way to get around Reims and Epernay. However, you can also access public transportation like trains and buses to reach each town. The buses that connect Reims to Epernay are everywhere, too.
Bustling and lively. Bubbly and full of history. Reims is one of the main cities in France’s Champagne region that is worth visiting. It’s home to famous and one of the most notable UNESCO World Heritage sites, the Notre-Dame de Paris, a gothic Roman Catholic cathedral built from the 13th-15th centuries in the city center.
Besides being on the livelier (ideal for nightlife) and busier side, Reims is also much larger than Epernay so there’s more to explore than the famous Champagne Houses. It’s also the second-largest city in the Grand Est region. And since it’s a dynamic university town, you’ll never run out of things to do and see here.
Things To Do in Reims
Planning a trip to Reims soon? Here are some of the best ways to enjoy this remarkable city.
Visit the Notre-Dame Cathedral
You should do this by default. It’s the most popular tourist attraction in Reims. This magnificent facade is a masterpiece.
The Roman Catholic cathedral has a rich history because it’s where the 26 French kings were crowned. Joan of Arc, a patron saint of France, also famously took the cathedral during the Hundred Years’ War, which restored the authority of the city to France and awarded the young Dauphin Charles the throne in 1429.
One must-see is the Palais Du Tau. It is a former archbishop’s palace that has been converted into a museum. The museum displays coronation ceremony artifacts. If you’re into history, explore the Musée de la Reddition. It’s a preserved chamber where the Germans surrendered during WWII.
For art enthusiasts, the Musée des Beaux-Arts has a collection of artworks by world-famous artists like Picasso and Monet.
Explore Champagne Houses
You cannot miss the gastronomic part of Reims. Some of the famous maisons de champagne you can visit are Taittinger, Veuve Clicquot, Mumm, and Vranken-Pommery. You can do champagne cellar tours, visit the vineyards, and go on wine tastings.
But before heading to any of the Champagne Houses, book in advance for a guided day tour.
Discover Food Around the City
Reims offers neverending options to fill your belly and satisfy your palate as you continue to explore the city. You can try their different specialties available in local cafés, boulangeries, and restaurants.
Tourists love Pâté de Reims and Reims Ham, which is often marinated in a blend of herbs and Champagne. If you want to make your visit truly unforgettable, you must try their pink biscuits, the Biscuits Roses de Reims.
Right at the Notre-Dame cathedral in the city center, there are covered markets that offer savory Reims specialties like sausages, wines, and cheese. They are a great go-to if you want to have a picnic in the park.
Walk around the Place Drouet d’Erlon and discover cafés and shops. Or, you can visit the Place du Forum for lively scenery. The Parc de Champagne is also a great way to take a breather from the bustling city. You’ll love the atmosphere here since it’s surrounded by lush greenery and beautiful vineyards.
Where To Stay in Reims
Reims is a large city so staying a few nights would be a good idea if you want to wander its ins and outs. Here are a few accommodations you can check out:
Grand Hôtel Des Templiers
This hotel is just a few blocks from the historic town center, the Reims Cathedral, the Palais de Tau, and the Musée de la Reddition. It’s a 4-star hotel idea for a luxury stay in the bustling city. Grand Hôtel Des Templiers offers lots of comfortable rooms and plenty of great amenities for you to enjoy.
Nope, not the other one. Hôtel Cecyl is a great option If you’re looking for a budget-friendly abode for a few nights, this hotel nestles in the heart of Reims. It won’t give you the most luxurious stay, but it will get you through nights and days while exploring Reims.
This chic hotel also sits in a very central location in Reims. It’s ideal for budget-conscious guests looking to stay in the city. The hotel gives you excellent access downtown, and has modern rooms and free parking.
We’d say that Epernay is on the mellower side and has an old-world feel. The city is smaller than Reims, but if your main purpose is to taste champagne and visit the vineyards, Epernay is the way to go. It’s home to the world-renowned Avenue de Champagne, which features 110 kilometers of cellars.
This city is a wine lover’s dream, but it also offers lovely countryside and a superb dining experience. And even though Reims is more accessible, it’s more handy in terms of getting around the city. It’s a pretty small French town, so you can do everything on foot or by bike. But you can explore the rest of the city on public transport.
While small, there’s so much to do and see here besides visiting the famous vineyards. It offers breathtaking attractions, as well as sublime cultural and architectural heritage.
However, keep in mind that Epernay won’t give you lots of amenities that Reims does. But, it’s a wonderful spot where you can stay if you want to experience the small-town French vibe.
Things To Do in Epernay
The best part about visiting the small town of Epernay is that you can explore most of the monuments in just one day. Here are some of the best ways you can make out of your stay in this cute French town:
Visit the Avenue de Champagne
Epernay is home to some of the most famous names in the champagne industry. Moët & Chandon and Dom Pérignon are a must-see. These famous Champagne Houses also take up large vineyards located in some of the main regions in Epernay.
Maison Ruinart and Veuve Clicquot, which is easily accessible, should also be on your bucket list. Other famous Houses on Champagne Avenue are Perrier-Jouët and Boizel. Mercier and G.H. Martel, Vranken, and Pol Roger.
If you’d learn how these wine growers and producers craft their champagne, join a workshop. You can book a champagne workshop or a private day champagne tour in advance.
Since the town is small, you may find yourself wanting to wander outside of Epernay. Hautvillers, the village of Dom Pérignon is easily accessible from Epernay at 5 kilometers.
And for budget-friendlier wine tasting, you’ll also discover some family-run vineyards on the outskirts of town. You can avail of their free champagne tours, but you must buy at least a bottle from them.
Explore the Food
Epernay has a wide range of places to eat. You can explore fine-dining restaurants or experience rustic French cuisine. You should try their red wine-braised chicken dish Coq au Vin as well as their Boeuf Bourguignon, which is beef that is also stewed in red wine.
If you want to go a little bit more exotic, their Escargots de Bourgogne (Burgundy snails) may be worth a try. You can also ask the hotel you’re staying at for affordable food nearby.
Where To Stay in Epernay
Epernay is a small town, but it also offers accommodations that suit a wide range of budget. Here are a few places you can check out:
Les Suites du 33
Chic and modern, this hotel is in the city center and offers comfortable rooms. The hotel also provides plenty of amenities.
Perfect for a group tour, this apartment will give you a large terrace and sunbeds, while overlooking the Champagne vineyards. They have beautiful, modern rooms equipped with amenities. Plus, it’s a walking distance from the center city.
Is It Worth Visiting Epernay?
Yes. Epernay is home to the famous Avenue de Champagne. It’s a place where you can visit the most important Champagne Houses in France. Visiting Epernay will fill up your entire day with not just visiting the cellars and wineries, the streets alone have quite a lot of tourist attractions.
Is It Worth Staying in Reims?
Nestled in the Grand Est region of northeastern France, Reims is definitely worth visiting. This French town is a must-see if you enjoy learning about the culture, history, and of course, champagne.
Is Epernay or Reims Closer to Paris?
Epernay and Reims are around the same distance from Paris at 141 kilometers. But if you’re planning a day trip from Paris to either of these 2 towns, Reims is more accessible and you’ll get there faster, depending on your mode of transportation. Reims is around an hour from Paris and Epernay takes roughly 90 minutes.
Can You Visit Reims and Epernay in One Day?
Depending on your plans, you could visit Reims and Epernay on the same day. However, it will be a jam-packed itinerary, so you must plan carefully. Reims and Epernay are about an hour apart. If you could spare a day for each town, you’d have more time to really bask in what both Reims and Epernay offer.
The Verdict: Which Is Better Epernay or Reims?
Both towns are worth visiting, depending on the activities you intend to do in each.
Epernay is a wonderful place to be if you love champagne. You can do wine-focused tours here, visiting great Champagne Houses and their cellars. It’s easier to get around here and it’s ideal for a day trip.
But if you’re in for a dynamic and bustling environment, Reims has a lot to offer. It also gives you more options for lodging. Reims is a great way to explore French culture and history, and wandering the city on a segway gives you more leeway for more sites to see.
In Reims, you can explore museums, art exhibits, and unique foods, which also makes it a family-friendly destination. Plus, it’s more accessible than Epernay if you’re coming from Paris.
So, is it better than Epernay?
The thing is, one isn’t better than the other. Both Reims and Epernays have something to offer. You just need to plan out what you want to do so that you can decide where to stay. Or, since they are next to each other, you can just explore both for the ultimate experience!
We hope you found our post helpful in making that decision. If you have more questions about these two amazing French towns, let us know and we’d be more than happy to help. Thanks for reading!