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.
Epernay is the capital of Champagne, a town at the heart of the Champagne industry that regularly plays host to senior representatives from the four main Champagne growing areas. This is where Winegrowers and Champagne Houses join together to celebrate the feast of St Vincent and pay tribute to Dom Perignon, lifting their voice in praise of the wine of kings and the king of wines.
The Château de Mareuil dates back to 18th Century French nobleman Thomas de Domangeville who had it built as a home befitting his young bride. In the mid 19th Century the chateau passed into the hands of Edmond de Ayala, founder of the House of Ayala that retained ownership until the 1930s.
The Château de Saran is a privately owned stately home in the village of Chouilly. It was built in 1801 for Jean-Remy Moët, grandson of the founder of the chateau’s present owners, Champagne House Moët & Chandon, which entertains its most distinguished guests here.
Walls can sometimes conceal strange secrets ... No-one would ever guess, for example, that behind the walls of this property in Cumières, owned by Champagne House Joseph Perrier, there is an exact replica of the botanical garden of the French National Assembly.
For more than 200 years the Résidence de Trianon has embodied luxury in the French style. The property with its orangery is one of two identical elements built for Jean-Rémy Moët in the period 1805-1817, making up an architectural complex that is said to have been designed by French decorator and miniature painter, Jean-Baptiste Isabey. Since 1967, following long occupation as a private residence, the Trianon has been reserved for the exclusive enjoyment of distinguished visitors to Moët & Chandon.
The Auban family is well known for its many donations in support of culture and the building of churches and private schools. But our principal focus here falls on their activities in the field of social welfare, and the building of the Hôpital Auban-Moët in particular. Victor Auban became an associate of Champagne House Moët & Chandon when he married his cousin Rachel Moët de Romont.
On 7 May 1889 the Foudre Mercier made its eagerly-awaited entrance at the Exposition Universelle in Paris. Drawn by a team of 24 oxen all the way from Epernay, Mercier’s giant Champagne barrel was greeted as a worthy rival to the Eiffel Tower and received a rousing reception from the audience.
The Avenue de Champagne (formerly the Avenue de Commerce) extends for nearly one kilometre, lined on both sides by magnificent private dwellings lovingly constructed over many centuries by the Champagne Houses. Some were originally built as a Head Office, others as the private home of the proprietor. All of them reflect an architectural style that celebrates the brand in particular and Champagne in general.
The Abbaye d’Hautvillers was founded by Saint Nivard, Archbishop of Rheims (nephew of King Dagobert of France), said to have appeared to the good clergyman in a dream. It was also famously the domain of Dom Pérignon (1639 - 1715), cellar master of the Abbey from 1668 to his death.