Reims, the biggest town of the champagne region in France, took us a bit by surprise. Expecting a rustic old town surrounded by vineyards, it actually reminded us of many typical country Victorian or Australian towns in its size and atmosphere. The backstreets of three or four story apartment buldings were typically French, as were the randomly placed monuments and statues.
While not particularly impressive for any one reason, it obivously is home to about a dozen of the major champagne names of France, who take their grapes from a variety of nearby vineyards.
We visited the Mumm headquarters and cellars which were expectedly very suave and modern. It was surprising to hear them explain the great variety of different, widespread vineyards across the region they take their grapes from. We moved through the cellars, past row after row of bottles tilted upside-down at a 45 degree angle as they are left to mature. Behind lock and key, we also saw the racks of previously great vintages (including 1893, 1911 and 1929) which are kept despite champagne not getting better with age, but in order for the cellar master to sample when trying to keep a consistent taste for the Mumm brand year after year. Soon enough it was tasting time, where we tried three different Mumm varieties, all very distinct from one another but all excellent.
A bit lost for something else to fill a full day with (apart from drinking more champagne!) we took a train to another of the main villages of the region, Epernay. The train journey alone was worthwhile, giving us a fly by of a big chunk of local vineyards. Once there we took a stroll around the town, sampled a couple of smaller, local champagne varieties and got the necessary photo in front of Moet and Chandon's HQ.
On our final morning in the region we visited the Reims' take on the Notre Dame Cathedral before jumping on a train and heading back west through Paris to Rennes.