The Champagne region holds particular significance for French history. It was originally part of the Roman province of Gallia Belgica, which in the 5th Century became the seat of the Merovingian dynasty that ousted the Romans. At its head was the Frankish King Clovis, whose baptism in Rheims established the precedent for royal anointing in Rheims cathedral that ended with the last King of France, Charles X. In medieval times, Champagne was the venue of great annual trading fairs. In World War I it was the bloody battlefield of the Western Front, later coming to symbolise the reconciliation between France and Germany.
For 300 years the Champagne Houses have been adding to this exceptional heritage through the commissioning of architectural masterpieces that sing the praises of the King of Wines.
Château de Bligny is the joint headquarters of Champagne Houses G.H. Martel and de Cazanove, built in 1773 on top of the ruins of a feudal chateau. All that remains of the medieval Louis XIII-style castle today is the front door with its finely sculpted grape and vine branch motifs.
Châlons-en-Marne, regional capital of Champagne-Ardennes, holds a special place in Champagne history as the home of the gleuco-œnomètre, a "wine sugar meter" that from 1831 onwards made it possible to control the rate of second fermentation in the bottle. Its inventor was Jean-Baptiste François, a pharmacist and former soldier in Napoleon’s Grande Armée, and his technique became known as the Reduction François.