BOTTOMS UP: Shanghai, Venice, Los Angeles, Cape Town — and now Reims. The name of the French city may not ring a bell with international travelers, but on Thursday, it joined the illustrious ranks of destinations featured in the Louis Vuitton City Guide collection.
In the heart of the Champagne region, Reims is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but also a major business driver for Moët Hennessy, the wine and spirits division of luxury conglomerate LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the parent company of the Vuitton brand.
Many of its houses — which include Moët & Chandon, Dom Pérignon, Veuve Clicquot, Ruinart and Krug — have visitor centers in the area, but the guide also provides directions to rival brands and other local attractions.
Philippe Schaus, chief executive officer of Moët Hennessy, said the guide was a gift to the region, which is seeing a gradual pickup in local tourism after the lifting of lockdown restrictions linked to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve wanted to do this for a while because we are leaders in Champagne production, and this drink feeds off the image, the history and the know-how of the entire region,” he told WWD.
Available in French and English, the guide went on sale Thursday in Louis Vuitton boutiques worldwide and selected bookstores, priced at 20 euros. An online version can be accessed free through the Apple App Store.
Though he’s been grounded since mid-March, Schaus usually visits Reims for work, which limits the scope for exploring. He hopes to try out some restaurants mentioned in the guide, which features electronic musician Yuksek as a guest, alongside portraits of local personalities ranging from chef Arnaud Lallement to female footballer Naomie Feller.
A lighthearted trivia section focuses on famous Champagne lovers including Marilyn Monroe and Jay-Z, who owns his own brand of bubbly, as well as couturier Paul Poiret’s memories of getting drunk with the owner of Veuve Clicquot while enlisted in the army during World War I.
Even before COVID-19 halted global travel, Schaus noticed a growing backlash against mass tourism in cities like Venice and Barcelona. His previous experience at the Hong Kong-based travel retailer DFS Group has him convinced that Chinese travelers, for example, are increasingly drawn to regional travel.
“When travelers become more sophisticated, they seek out regions and small towns, because they find them even more authentic,” he said. “You can easily spend an entire day, and even a night, in Reims and you will definitely not be bored.”