CHAMPAGNE ARDENNE Champagne bottlingHautvillers (pop 860) is a neat little village that stands atop the vine planted hillsides, just 7km north of Épernay. The village is hailed as the le berceau de Champagne (the birthplace of Champagne), as this is where the Benedictine monk Dom Perignon founded the Champagne concoction, almost 3 centuries ago. He was also one of the first to invent the practice of mixing wines to create vintages. Hence this sunny little village, surrounded by beautiful vineyards, is a popular stop on the Champagne route.

The Champagne cellars of Hautvillers are the most frequented sights. Listings of this local cellars can be obtained from the local tourist office or the Champagne Route website [www.tourisme-en-champagne.com/fr/85/pages/d/patrimoine-champagne/la-route-du-champagne/page/0].

Hautvillers also has a long history dating back to the 7th century- when the village was home to a Benedictine Abbey, which was founded by the Saint Nivard (the archbishop of Reims) in 660AD. Today the Église Abbatiale (Abbey Church) stands as a reminder of the history of this ancient building. The tomb of Dom Perignon is also buried here, in front of the altar. Although the church itself dates as far back as the abbey, most of its interior belongs to the 17th century. The church is known for its fine woodwork details in the choir stalls and the ornamental chandelier-the wooden frame is made from grape pressing wheels.

Hautvillers is great for a relaxing walkabout, as its pretty streets are well decorated with iron wrought signs that depict the activities or functions of every building in the village. These quirky signs are little works of art themselves. You can also head along rue de Fismes north of the village, to get to some high slopes that offer panoramic views of the surrounding vineyards.  






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HAUTVILLERS1. Hôtel de Ville  2. Tourist office  3. Église Abbatiale  4. rue de Fismes