From new hotels to historic anniversaries …
Images from top left clockwise: Rue Emile Zola, Troyes by D. le Névé / Maison Taittinger, Carmen Moya / Cathédrale de Reims, G Raskin / Medicinal boxes Musée de Troyes, J.-M. Protte / Coupes de champagne, Phovoir
There’s a huge amount happening in France’s historic Champagne area during 2019 from the launch of four new hotels, to fabulous museum openings, state of the art vine lodges created in the Champagne vineyards and landmark anniversaries for Renoir and Napoleon no less.
NEW HOTEL OPENINGS – A Good night’s sleep …
January 2019: Opening of the ‘Ibis Budget Langres’
Located in the centre of the fortified hilltop town of Langres, just 10 minutes from the motorway, the new three-star hotel, Ibis Budget Langres, has 70 modern rooms offering great value for money. Secure car-parking is available for a supplement. Ideal as a base for exploring the historic town on foot, or as a stop-over on your way further south.
Spring 2019: Reopening of the ‘Domaine des Armes de Champagne’ at l’Epine
After major renovation, the 27 rooms of this long-standing establishment, the Domaine des Armes de Champagne, are due to reopen in April 2019. Facilities will include a covered pool, sauna and hammam. The gastronomic restaurant, ‘Cuvée 31’, reopened last July under the command of chef Jérémie Thebaut. The hotel is located opposite the magnificent basilica of l’Epine, listed as a UNESCO world heritage site as part of the St James’ Way (Chemin de Saint Jacques de Compostelle).
April 2019: Opening of the ‘Hotel-Club Le Lac d’Orient’
Just a few metres from the lake (Lac d’Orient) and the beach at Mesnil-St-Père, the 60 rooms of the Hotel-Club Le Lac d’Orient will be set in small clusters throughout beautiful grounds. There will be a large, light, bright restaurant offering local cuisine and a wellness area with a covered pool, sauna, spa and solarium. The establishment belongs to the Cap France Group, the- number one in holiday villages in France.
June 2019: Opening of the ‘Marriott Autograph Collection’ hotel
The new five star Marriott Autograph Hotel, opposite Reims Cathedral, covers an enormous area of 5,500 m2 and will have 89 rooms with half having a cathedral view. There will be 17 suites, a 450m2 spa and a 90-seater restaurant with terrace. Other facilities and services include three meeting rooms and a valet parking service with car drop off spaces in front of the hotel. The old art deco walls of the old fire station that once stood on the site have been preserved.
Mid April 2019: Opening of the Priory of Viviers-sur-Artaut – new wine centre
Champagne Robert Grandpierre on the Côte des Bar has transformed the priory on their site into a new wine centre to learn about the history of the vine in the Aube and the story of the priory itself. There is an Eco- museum about wine-making in the area and the chance to taste some of the delicious cuvee for which the owners are famous.
May: Sound and light extravaganza on Reims Cathedral
After a run of eight years, the sound and light show projected on the façade of Reims Cathedral after nightfall is being replaced with a brand new concept that will be inaugurated on 24th May. Developed by the Québécois company ‘Moment Factory’, the show will recount the coronation of French kings, in all their pomp and splendour, from the arrival of the king to the celebrations that follow – 33 kings of France were crowned at Reims. There will also be the possibility of interacting with the display via smartphone.
From 2020, sound and light will also animate the façade of the St Remi Basilica along with its north transept and cloister. The theme in the St Remi district will evoke Champagne Houses and cellars, listed by UNESCO as world heritage in this part of Reims.
Images from top left clockwise: L’écume des vignes, MACA – Loge Moussy, Cotés Intérieur, La Maison des Loges, 37%
New additions to the tour of the Champagne vine lodges
A project led by the ‘Summer University of Architecture and Champagne’, based in Châlons-en-Champagne, invited 20-30 architectural students from around the world to reinvent the traditional ‘lodges’ in the vineyards, where workers used to shelter and to store their equipment. The objective was for the lodge to have a modern, forward-looking edge while still blending into its surroundings. Each lodge that was transformed was done so in collaboration with the champagne producer who owned it.
Eight lodges were designed and constructed at Châlons-en-Champagne in 2017, and six more in 2018. Visitors touring the vineyards can see these 14 innovative constructions at Bouzy, Cumières, Moussy, Verzenay, Tours-sur-Marne, Trépail, Champillon, Le Breuil, Vanault-le-Châtel, Changy, Urville and Les Riceys . They offer a new architectural slant on the traditional vineyard landscape and an unusual venue where the producer can organise champagne tastings and other activities. The project will once again run in July 2019, so more lodges will be added to the collection later in the year.
End 2019: NEW museum dedicated to champagne wine and regional archaeology
The new Musée du Vin de Champagne et d’Archéologie Régionale is housed in a magnificent building in Epernay. Founded in 1852 on the prestigious Avenue de Champagne as a sumptuous residence and reception venue for the Perrier-Jouët champagne house, the ‘Château Perrier’ is a remarkable architectural feat. Each side has a different architectural style, inspired from some of the most famous buildings and palaces in Paris, with exceptional interior floors and sculptures. Closed in 1998 for security reasons, the château is classed as a ‘Historical Monument’.
Image credit: Frenak et Julien Architectes
In 2011, a 20.5 million € project began for the château to undergo major restoration and refurbishment work in order to house one of France’s largest collections of archaeology and a remarkable exhibition on the history of champagne, with over 100,000 objects on display. The museum will be divided into four areas: the formation of the famous Champagne chalk landscapes, so essential for the production of its wine; the settlement of man in this area and aspects of human life; the history of champagne wine, production techniques and social implications; and the great explorers of the 19th century and the ‘Belle Epoque’. Visitors will also be able to enjoy strolling in the château’s magnificent grounds.
A Year of Anniversaries in Champagne!
THE YEAR OF RENOIR, Essoyes
2019 is a year of commemorations for many members of Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s family and a number of events and activities are being developed at Essoyes around the theme of ‘The Renoirs, a family of Artists’. Auguste Renoir, as he was commonly known, was, of course, a leading painter in the development of impressionism.
Centenary of the death of the painter Pierre- Auguste RENOIR (1841-1919)
Birthplace of his wife, Aline, Renoir felt inspired by the charming landscapes and simple village life of Essoyes, and at peace to paint in his house here, and later in the studio he had built at the bottom of his garden. Both are open to the public, along with a visitors’ centre dedicated to the Renoir family.
Although he moved to Cagnes-sur-Mer towards the end of his life, where the climate better suited his rheumatoid arthritis, Renoir wanted to be buried in Essoyes and so it is in the village cemetery that he is interred, along with his family.
160th Anniversary of the birth of Aline Charigot, Renoir’s wife (1859-1915)
Born in the village of Essoyes in Champagne, Aline first met Renoir at a café in Paris, where she was working as a dress maker. She corresponded to his ideal of female beauty, and so became first his model and then his wife in spite of their 20-year age difference. The couple had three sons.
60thAnniversary of the death of Gabrielle Renard, Renoir’s favourite model (1878-1959)
Cousin of Aline and nanny to their second son, Jean, whom Gabrielle introduced to the newly invented ‘motion picture’. Gabrielle became one of Renoir’s favourite models and is depicted in many of his paintings. She became very close to Jean and followed his to the United States, where he became a famous film director.
40thAnniversary of the death of Jean, Renoir’s second son (1894-1979)
Rrenowned film director who started life in Esssoyes and ended in California where he had honed his trade. Two of his movies are often cited as among the greatest films ever made – The Rules of the Game and The Grand Illusion. Jean’s elder brother, Pierre, became a stage and film actor.
50th Anniversary of the death of Claude, Renoir’s third and youngest son (1901-1969)
Appearing in a number of his father’s paintings as a young child with long hair and in dresses, as was the custom of the day, Claude, known as Coco, followed in the footsteps of his artistic and creative family and went on to become a ceramic artist.
Dates for your diary:
May – October
A number of original works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir will be on display in the dining room of his family home in Essoyes during the summer season, accessible to all visitors of the house.
HISTORY OF THE CINEMA SINCE 1895 – exhibition
6th July to 29th September
A special exhibition at the Renoir Cultural Centre celebrates the acting and film careers of Pierre and Jean Renoir. Exhibits include rare cinematic material, archived footage taken during filming and some of the movie posters of Jean Renoir.
NAPOLEON BONAPARTE (1769-1821)
250thAnniversary of the birth of Napoleon & 240th Anniversary of the arrival of
Napoleon in Brienne-le-Château
The young Napoleon was 10 years old when he went to military school at Brienne-le-Château in southern Champagne. The school was transformed into a museum dedicated to its famous pupil, inaugurated in 1969, and recently underwent 4 years of major refurbishments, reopening in January 2018.
10th May – 30th September 2019: Exhibition ‘Bonaparte, the youth of an officer’
To commemorate the 250th anniversary of the birth of Napoleon and the 240th anniversary of his arrival in Champagne, a collection of around 20 drawings, photos, objects and original works and artefacts will be on display at the museum showcasing Napoleon’s younger years and his time as a pupil at the royal military school. Free entry.
Travelling to the region: The main gateway to Champagne is Reims, an easy 2.5 hour drive down the A26 motorway from the ferry and Eurotunnel terminals in and around Calais. For rail travel, take the Eurostar from London to Paris Gard du Nord and a direct TGV from Paris Gare de l’Est to central Reims (45 minutes). Charles de Gaulle airport has a 30-minute TGV service to Champagne-Ardenne TGV station, just south of Reims.
Notes to Editors: Champagne, in the Grand-Est area of France, is as varied and refined as the famous wine it produces. A land of kings and counts, of Cistercians and crusaders, of monasteries and masterpieces, artists and philosophers – the history and heritage of Champagne is embedded in that of France and is linked to the present by the inscription of its vineyards, houses and cellars on the UNESCO World Heritage list.
If you are planning to write a news piece or feature on Champagne, need any further information or simply want to talk through ideas or promotions, please contact either Gillian Green / +44 (0) 7515 283 287, Alexandra Pinhorn +44 (0) 7515 283 040 or Sue Lowry / +44 (0) 7725 997 121. Alternatively, our office number is +44 (0) 2392 361 426.