banquets were held and the wall tapestries
tell the story of the first King of France.
From the opulent to the elegant: if you've
time for one more visit, make it the Musée
Le Vergeur. It's a beautifully preserved
private home (France has very
few left) with an exceptional
collection of furniture and
paintings including engravings
by Albrecht Dürer. Book a
tour in English in advance; the
guides are charming and make
this a very memorable visit.
So much for Reims above ground. Now for
the below-ground adventure, as many of
the Champagne houses cellar their wine
in chalk pits, or crayères, some of which
were dug by the Romans. �e chalk and
limestone soil is what gives Champagne
grapes their special character, and it's the
chalk that creates the consistently cool
cellars for storing the millions of bottles.
A visit to one of these cellars is a real
highlight. Pommery (pommery.tickeasy.
com) is a particularly good introduction
to life below ground. Madame Pommery,
like the Veuve (or 'widow') Clicquot,
carried the business on after her husband
died. It's a memorable and dramatic
visit starting with no less than 116 steps
down (there's a lift too) into the 11-mile
maze of tunnels filled with wine, but also
with art and sculptures.
It's a complicated business
making Champagne, and the
Taittinger (taittinger.fr) visit
explains it really well. Its caves
were used by monks from the
abbey above in the 13th century.
�e abbey was destroyed in
the French Revolution, but
the cellars remain. Other well-known
producers welcoming visitors include the
newly reopened Moët & Chandon cellars
in Epernay (uk.moet.com), Lanson in Reims
(lanson.com), and Canard-Duchêne, just
outside Reims (canard-duchene.fr).
POMMERY'S CELLARS ARE
A GOOD INTRODUCTION TO
LIFE BELOW GROUND
LES CRAYÈRES HOTEL
CLOCKWISE, FROM TOP RIGHT:
VINEYARDS IN CHAMPAGNE; REIMS'
NOTRE�DAME CATHEDRAL; WALL ART
IN POMMERY'S LIMESTONE CELLARS