Epernay or Reims: 6 Factors to Help You Decide
If you are planning a day trip or spending several beautiful days in wine country, you will quickly realize there are two main hubs in the Champagne region: Epernay and Reims. Each has its own charm, so how do you decide? Let’s go through the 6 factors.
* Some of the links in this post contain affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. All recommendations are from first-hand experience that I feel will deliver value to you! Thank you for your continued support.
FOLLOW & SHARE WITH A FRIEND!
01- Historical Sights
Reims is home to some incredible historical sights, most notably the Reims Cathedral. This historic Gothic masterpiece is where the kings of France were crowned! Its impressive structure is illuminated by beautiful panels of stained-glass windows.
Other popular historic sites include the Palace of Tau, where the kings would celebrate their coronation. It now serves as a museum of royal regalia, ceremonial objects, and artwork. Additionally, you’ll discover Porte de Mars, an ancient Roman arch situated adjacent to the train station.
Epernay has a few historic interesting sights such as the classic Art Nouveau house, La Maison de la Lune, and the artist-decorated Gabrielle-Dorziat Theater. However, it really is all about the Champagne in Epernay.
VERDICT: Reims certainly has more historic sights and monuments to explore.
02- Size and Population
Map view of Reims, France
Map view of Epernay, France
Reims is a major urban center and is spread out. It’s larger with a population of a little over 184,000.
In contrast, Epernay is more concentrated. It’s smaller with a population close to 24,000.
VERDICT: It depends on what you prefer. Visit Reims for a more metropolitan ambiance and Epernay for a quaint boutique atmosphere.
Reims city center
Reims has more of a medieval, industrial feel.
Domaine de Castellane overlooking the Marne River in Epernay, France
I found Epernay to possess a distinctive charm and a notably laid-back atmosphere.
Epernay is next to the meandering Marne River, where you can leisurely cycle to Champagne houses. À la Française Champagne-Bourgogne offers a fantastic bike + sip tour.
If you have been to South Africa wine country, you’ll know what I mean when I say Reims is to Stellenbosch as Epernay is to Franschhoek.
VERDICT: Epernay wins hands down.
04- Champagne Houses
Ruinart Champagne House in Reims, France
Leclerc Briant Champagne tasting in Epernay, France
Epernay is famous for its Avenue de Champagne, which is a prestigious and charming street lined with several renowned Champagne houses. It’s a popular tourist stop for a lot of the Champagne tours.
We actually stayed on this famous street at the incredible boutique hotel, Le25Bis by Leclerc Briant Champagne House. That meant Champagne breakfasts every morning from one of the most prestigious Champagne producers! Oh, yeah! My kind of vacation.
VERDICT: Tie. Both Reims and Epernay offer fantastic Champagne tours, just depends on what kind of experience you are seeking.
Gazpacho at Le Jardin Les Crayères
If you are a foodie, you will love Reims.
It is home to one Bib Gourmand-recommended restaurant and four Michelin-starred restaurants according to the Michelin Guide.
This experience rates #5 on my top things to do in Reims!
Steak tartare at Chez Max in Epernay, France
Epernay also holds its own when it comes to fantastic culinary experiences.
There are two restaurants in the Bib Gourmand category, in addition to two other highly recommended dining establishments featured in the Michelin Guide.
Do not miss ordering the steak tartare at Chez Max, which is made table side by the Chef himself. Quite possibly the best steak tartare I’ve ever had.
VERDICT: If you go by the Michelin stars, Reims wins. However, for a truly authentic casual dining experience in a charming town, Epernay wins. I guess that makes it a tie.
06- Accessibility from Paris
Reims Ville train station
Reims is located only 45 minutes from Paris by high-speed train. You’ll hardly have time to finish your morning coffee before you realize you’ve arrived. It goes by that quickly.
Epernay is also still accessible from Paris but is an additional 30 minutes (1 hr. 17 min total travel time).
If you are interested, see my step-by-step guide on how to book a train ticket from Paris to Reims if you are looking to visit on your own and not with a tour group.
Paris to Reims: 45 minutes
Paris to Epernay: 1 hour 17 minutes
Go to Reims if you only have time for a day trip from Paris. You can hit several historical sights, dine at an incredible Michelin-recommended (or starred) restaurant, and enjoy one of the quintessential Champagne tasting experiences at one of the big houses.
If you have several days to enjoy the Champagne region, stay in Epernay. Enjoy strolling the charming streets, biking along the Marne River, leisurely sipping Champagne from one of the smaller producers, and eating the best tartare from the friendliest Chef.
In Burgundy, France, you'll find numerous charming...
We love wine. We love travel. Combining these two loves is...
My husband and I love winecations and have done too many...
Oh, how we love Burgundy and all the charming French...
REACH OUT, FOLLOW, OR SHARE THIS POST WITH A FRIEND!
Which do you prefer? Epernay or Reims?
Let me know in the comments below!