The inclusion of the Avenue du Champagne in UNESCO’s World Heritage Site list is a recognition of the rich history of Moët & Chandon’s beautiful wineries, whose headquarters are located in the city of Champagne.
Avenue du Champagne is the main street of the town of Epernay in France’s Champagne region. It was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2015 thanks to its rich heritage both underground and on the surface.
Moët & Chandon was forced to adapt its old cellars to heritage preservation standards, and the installations remained closed to the public for one year. Finally, in October 2015, they welcomed the first visitors to this incredibly beautiful and emblematic corner of the French countryside.
Épernay, in the hills of Champagne
The Moët & Chandon wineries in Epernay are the largest in Champagne, a region located less than two hours from Paris. Select vineyards in the area produce grapes of the varieties pinot noir, meunier, and chardonnay, which deliver the unique qualities and personality, delicious flavor and intense color, of champagne.
A little-known fact is that beneath the vineyards there is a network of 28 kilometers (17 miles) of tunnels carved in calcareous soils at depths of between 10 and 30 meters (32 and 100 feet). It is in that dark space that nature’s forces come together to create an ideal and unique environment that favors the metamorphosis of the fruit, which bring the luxurious and striking characteristic of Moët & Chandon wines.
A memorable visit
The name Moët & Chandon has been strongly associated with success and glamor since Claude Moët founded the label in 1743. That’s why a visit through the secrets of the Maison Moët & Chandon is an opportunity to experience part of the fascinating history of the place while enjoying a delightful glass of bubbly. Guided tours elucidate the different facets of production and allow guests to visit the cellars where cherished old bottles reach the perfect state of maturation.
If you go, you should not miss the Hall of Jean Rémy Moët, Claude’s grandson, where Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte awarded him the medal of the Legion of Honor, one of the most prestigious awards in France. It is said that Napoleon and Jean Rémy were friends and that the emperor celebrated his victories with a glass of Chandon.
You can also visit the romantic English gardens of the Hotel Moët, a small palace built in 1793 as the Moët family residence, or admire the exquisite beauty of the Orangerie, a majestic construction, and gardens in the 19th-centure French style. Both areas represent —down to their smallest detail— the paradigm of the French art de vivre.
And to end your tour, take a stroll through the Imperial Gallery or the Cour d’Honneur, favorite of personalities such as the great German composer Richard Wagner, the iconic French singer Maurice Chevalier, and contemporary sports stars such as Roger Federer.
Becoming part of UNESCO’s World Heritage list is a well-deserved honor for the largest champagne company in the world. ■