Madame Clicquot, as she was known, was an innovative visionary and, among other things, created the first vintage champagne and the first “table removed” to debug and clarify her wines. These innovations along with the excellent quality of her products opened, for her, the doors of the booming Russian market of her times. Her entrepreneurial skills led her to establish a company whose success has never been questioned through the centuries. She was quickly nicknamed “Champagne Lady” in recognition of her audacity and determination.
When people talk about the Maison Veuve Clicquot, they usually refer to the French Champagne brand, which has existed for more than 240 years and is internationally known for its yellow & orange label, but the exclusive label acquired, two years ago, a maison they can call their very own. Hotel du Marc, a lovely mansard-roofed residence built in 1840 by Edouard Werle—successor of Madame Clicquot— in the town of Reims, the capital of the Champagne region. The luxurious building survived, surprisingly, the terrible German bombing that ravaged the city in World War I.
The man commissioned to rehabilitate the historic building and adapt it to the new image of Veuve Clicquot was the prestigious and world-renowned architect and designer Bruno Moinard, who had previously made remarkable reforms for the Museum of Decorative Arts and the Roland Garros Museum in Paris for the Cartier and Hermes brands respectively, and also for private hotels and residences around the world.
Moinard conceived a classic and modern space for the Hotel Du Marc, preserving at the same time the palatial feeling of the 19th bourgeois family home. He added interesting accents of modernity by integrating relevant artistic works and designs from contemporary creative talents such as Herve Van der Straeten, Yayoi Kusama, the Campana brothers, Issey Miyake, Mathieu Lehanneur and Pablo Reinoso, among others.
Renovations began in 2007 and took 4 years until completion. It was necessary to redesign the floor plans to adapt the space to the needs of the 21st century. For starters, they added comfort and luxury to the bathrooms and bedrooms and reduced the distance between the dining rooms and kitchens. Later the focus turned to the interior decoration, taking as a starting point an aesthetic perspective where design, art and space seamlessly integrate without betraying the original architecture or the historic relevance of the Palace.
The name may be misleading because the Hotel du Marc is not truly a hotel; rooms are reserved for friends, relatives and people who work for the brand, and only during a few days, June 15 and 16, it opens its doors to the general public, offering guided tours of the elegant spaces that conform the ground floor, as well as French cooking demonstrations and table service techniques. The various types champagnes of this legendary brand accompany all these activities.
The interior decoration, overflowing with works of art, does not leave anyone indifferent. The neoclassical splendor is immediately evident in the staircase and the wrought iron railing on the ground floor, which brings modernity to a classical space thanks to the origami-inspired piece from the versatile Japanese artist and designer, Issey Miyake.
This play between the past and contemporary references is present throughout the property, creating a sensation of power and serenity interspersed with a well-curated modern art collection. The architects had, from the onset, a clear commitment to infusing this project with the works of the most relevant artists of the moment. For example, the Campana brothers created a pavilion-sculpture of exquisite beauty for the garden, and French artists, Jugnet & Clairet designed the impressive Pendeloque lamps that tower above the tasting room, which redefine the concept of lighting for exclusive spaces.
The greatest artistic effect is visible in the hallway that takes us to the suites, a dimly lit space adorned with large portraits of the Clicquot Ponsardin family. The 3D images lead to the various rooms and give the area the sobriety and pageantry of a great Museum. Along this hallway, guests will find the impressive bench created by Pablo Reinoso, titled Cadre de Vie, one of the most relevant pieces commissioned just for the Hôtel du Marc, where the Argentine creator displays a delicate sculpture of straight lines mixed with curved and sinuous forms.
The residence has six spacious bedrooms with names that allude to the seasons of the year and the countries that have been instrumental in the development of Veuve Clicquot. Each is unique and features the different hues of their wines, grapes and champagnes. The design of the beautiful suites stimulates relaxation through wise management of chromaticism, light and temperature.
The Hotel du Marc reminds us of a dream-like fantasy, a place steeped in prestige, tradition and the celebrated history of the Clicquot Ponsardin family. It is a singular universe where French elegance and luxury can harmonize perfectly with the aesthetics of the avant-garde to reach high levels of brilliance and artistic inspiration. ■