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Day trip - Reims or Giverny

Hello! Looking for some opinions. We have a day to escape Paris. I had my heart set on Giverny. But have been reading how accessible Reims is and am wondering, what would be better. I love Impressionism AND Champagne! We have never been to Paris - we are staying 7 days in July (to celebrate our anniversary). We have lots of time to meander and sight see I think. THANKS!!

Posted by
151 posts

We went to Giverny last September. Like you, I had had my heart set on seeing the gardens for many years. In fact, we stayed overnight in Giverny so that we could time our visit to avoid the crowds as much as possible. We have not yet been to Reims, so I can't compare the two. If this helps at all, I would say your enjoyment of Giverny will depend on how much it bothers you to see it with lots of other people. I love gardens, and I love Monet. The gardens are lovely. However, I felt the crowds really took away from the pleasure of seeing a scene similar to the paintings. Picture the iconic water lilies, but put lots of people with cameras on the beautiful bridge. If that doesn't bother you, you will really enjoy your visit. We stayed until closing time, the crowds thinned out in the last 20 minutes and it was much more enjoyable. We do plan on going to Reims as a day trip from Paris and it seems there is much more to do there. I don't mean to sound overly negative about Giverny. As long as you set your expectations that it will be crowded, it is still an amazing place. Either way, you will love Paris and your day trips. There is no better place to celebrate your anniversary!

Posted by
10344 posts

We just did both of those day trips this week. But we've been to Paris multiple times and just now got around to doing these day trips--there's so much to see and do in Paris.
You'll enjoy either choice. I don't think you can go wrong, either way.
On a first trip to Paris with 7 days, I'd pick just one of these (as you're planning to do), because you'll probably want to spend your other 6 days in Paris.

Maybe you'll have to decide which you like better, Impressionism or Champagne! :-)
Of course Reims is more than just champagne. There is the cathedral, the WW2 surrender site, a Roman gate, exploring the Reims pedestrian zone, and other possible sights that will fill up your day in Reims.

A day trip to Monet's gardens and home will take 6 to 7 hours. Reims will be more like 9 to 10 hours, depending on how many things you see in Reims.
Depending on which champagne caves you want to tour, you may want to reserve a tour in advance, we did. Make sure you get a tour in English.

If you choose Reims, you should reserve the TGV train soon, an advance reservation is required on this type of train and the fares are lowest if you buy 90 days in advance and you're already down to about 60 days for a TGV reservation.

For a Giverny trip you can buy the train tickets on the day of your trip, you should try to arrive at Giverny close to the 9:30 am opening time to avoid the worst crowds. For a July trip, buy your Monet entrance tickets in advance online. Even with advance tickets, expect significant crowds at Giverny in July. We walked right in since we had reserved in advance, but by 10am the crowds were significant.

Posted by
7175 posts

Well Rouen (nr Giverny) and Reims both have wonderful gothic cathedrals
I guess your choice is "Champagne or flowers?" Certainly sounds like an anniversary to me !!
Belgium later for chocolates?

Posted by
219 posts

If your heart is set on Giverny I'd say go to Giverny. Save Reims for another trip. We went to giverny at the end of April a few years ago. It is absolutely beautiful! It was fairly crowded and hard to get a photo without others in it but I'm very glad I went. I've never been to Reims so I can't compare them.

Posted by
15678 posts

If you are a big Monet fan, it is interesting to see the gardens and especially the lily pond where he did so much of painting. And the house is nice too. But you won't see great paintings - for that, visit the Marmottan, the Orsay and the Orangerie in Paris. . . where you'll see lots of other Impressionists too.

If you choose Reims, follow Kent's very good advice. When you arrive, go straight to the TI. If the one at the train station is closed (it has somewhat shorter hours that the one next to the Cathedral). They will give you a map of the town and help you book champagne tours. You can certainly do two tours, possibly 3, in one day. I toured Taittinger and Martel, which are only a couple minutes apart on foot, and enjoyed both tours. The St-Remi Basilica is very close, and well worth a visit. You can also get champagne by the glass in cafes and restaurants in Reims - even at the train station cafe. And you can buy some to take back to Paris.

Check the major champagne houses to make sure they'll be open on the day of the week you choose. There are trains that go directly between Paris and Reims. There are others that only go from Champagne-Ardenne, so you have to transfer to the TER for the Reims leg. It's easy. The Capitaine website is better to use than the "official SNCF" site. I found that not all the trains appeared on the SNCF site.

Posted by
1 posts

You can easily make an escapade from Paris to Reims for a day, but either you have to join a group and take the bus, or you should stay a night in Reims and enjoy it! Giverny is more complicated and more enjoyable in the spring time !

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks so much for the guidance. I'm going to ask my husband if he has a preference - I guess it's his anniversary too. My guess is that he may favor Reims, as Giverny would be more for me. I just checked the TGV site. 2nd class early train tickets are running 19 and 1st class 26. but I saw the most expensive at 96 (meal included). I guess the other thing is securing a tour or two or at least knowing which houses will be open. I am sooo psyched. I think I will be blown away either way. good point about the crowds...we don't mind as much (we've gone to Disney World in the summer, with two small kids), but I can see how it would taint the experience a bit at Giverny.

Posted by
7078 posts

Well, since you're going to be in Paris for 7 days you could do both. Reims is a full day trip with lots to see and experience. But if you have your heart set on Giverny, and I understand that completely, you could do that as a short 1/2 day trip. I did it that way - early train to Vernon, at Giverny about 15 mins before opening time, saw the gardens and ponds thoroughly but just a short trip through the house and didn't do anything else in Giverny (museum, lunch, etc) - and was back in Paris around 1:30-2:00 for a late lunch and a 1/2 day of sightseeing.

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks again for your advice. We chose Reims. The early train arrives at 08:45. Is this a good time. Anything open? Or do you think arriving a bit later is better? Suggestions for Champagne caves tours/sights? Should we book ahead - we will be going during a weekday, to be determined. Suggestions for return time back to Paris?

Posted by
10344 posts

Congratulations on adding Reims as a day trip from Paris.

There's a TGV train from Gare de l'Est (Paris) train station to the Champagne-Ardenne TGV station, that will get you to Reims slightly later than the one you're looking at in your latest post. But make sure you take the TGV train (45 min) and not the slower trains that take 2 hours.

The Mumm's cave tour is the closest to the Reims Central Train station. I found it easiest to pay for through Viator, but you could try their website.
Mumm's is not the only choice but I have found it to be the easiest one to pay for and to walk to from the Central Train station.
For getting around Reims and saving some shoe leather and time, there's a tram system (the colors of the trams are the colors of the rainbow, I kid you not, also the city bus system uses rainbow colors).
But the tram system does not go to Mumm's, it's a 15 minute walk northeast from the Reims Central Train station.
Note that your TGV train in the morning will probably arrive at the Champagne-Ardenne TGV station, 5 miles from the Reims-Centre Station.

Posted by
4684 posts

Don't expect good quality food on a TGV. I've never seen a French or foreign person with a good word to say for their catering offer...

Posted by
10344 posts

Re the last post: The French restaurants don't much get in the mood to serve dinner until 7:30 and you don't want to miss the last high speed train from Reims back to Paris.
But if you think you have time, try L'Apostrophe or Brasserie du Boulingrin.

Posted by
41 posts

Thanks Kent - that's what I was thinking - maybe we'll just head back and just plan on lunch in Reims. Thank you!

Posted by
10344 posts

Yes, that's what we did a couple of weeks ago: train into Reims in the morning, leisurely tour of the Cathedral, walked the Place Douret d'Erlon after that, then had a nice lunch, then in the afternoon the Surrender Museum, tour of Mumm's champagne caves, the Roman gate, then a light snack at the train station cafe. Then the high speed train back to Paris (45 mins), and had dinner in Paris.

Posted by
41 posts

Kent - thank you, sounds like we will model our visit after yours - seems like a wonderful day! Have you heard of Stephanie? From other websites I've gathered she does tours much like Paris Walks. But I can't seem to find a way to contact her. Did you book the Mumm tour the morning you arrived?

Posted by
10344 posts

I booked the Mumm tour through Viator.com, a month or two in advance.
I initially tried to book it through the Mumm website but had difficulty paying for it or getting a ticket I could print out at home, and going through Viator made this easy.