Notre-Dame de Reims is known as the seat of the region’s archdiocese and also the location of coronations for kings of France. Built on the former site of a church that was destroyed by fire in 1211, the impressive portals, statues and spires of Notre Dame have become one of the most popular attractions in Reims.
After taking in the chevet’s ornate exterior and Notre Dame’s famous rose window, travelers can venture indoors where colorful stained glass dating back to the 13th and 20th centuries decorates the nave and altar. A vast collection of tapestries, including a series representing the life of the Virgin Mary, is also on display, and the church’s treasury, dating back some 800 years, showcases rare artifacts like a holy flask broken during the French Revolution.
Founded in 1858 by Alexandre Louis Pommery and Narcisse Greno, Champagne Pommery was at one time better known for its wool trading than for its bubbly. Today, however, this massive house is one of the Champagne region’s largest producers of the popular celebratory beverage and a destination for travelers seeking to sample sparkling glasses in the same setting where it’s produced.
Visitors can tour the network of chalk pits that sits beneath the city of Reims, where more than 20 million bottles of champagne are stored in a natural temperature-controlled environment. Guided tours include a trip around the grounds, a visit to the cellars and a detailed explanation of how this favorite beverage is produced, bottled and distributed.
In 1827, three German brothers brought their experience of producing and merchandising wine to the Champagne region. Jacobus, Gottlieb and Phillip Mumm founded the House of Mumm, and set about producing some of the most well-regarded and celebrated champagnes in the world.
In 1852, the business was taken over by Georges Hermann Mumm, and under his direction, the winery was producing over 3 million bottles of champagne a year. In the 1920s, a Parisian lawyer named Rene LaLou became president, and for the next 50 years, Mumm champagnes greatly increased the house's output while maintaining the quality of the product set a century before. A period of malaise and lackluster vintages followed his death, but in the 1990s, technological innovations and tinkering with the grape compositions ensured that the legendary excellence of Mumm champagnes was here to stay.