August 1, 2021

Epernay, the capital of champagne, unveils its collections

Paris has the Champs-Elysées, Epernay the avenue de Champagne. This long, slightly sloping artery hides classified chalk cellars in the basement; on the surface, it shines with its opulent facades, erected in the 19the century, bearing the letters of renowned houses – Moët & Chandon, Mercier, de Castellane, Pol Roger, de Venoge, Boizel, etc.

One of the jewels of this avenue, at number 13, is the Château Perrier, the former home of the founder of the Perrier-Jouët house, with its spectacular façade in neo-Louis XIII style. The municipality, owner since 1943, opened there to the public, on May 29, the Museum of Champagne wine and regional archeology. This project germinated around 2015, when the “hillsides, houses and cellars of Champagne” were classified as World Heritage by Unesco. Seven years of work, which cost 24.2 million euros, provided by the municipality and champagne houses, allowed the renovation of the 4,200 square meters of the building, not to mention a small park of 7,500 square meters in the building. ‘back. The collections are developed on the three floors, the large reception rooms on the ground floor remaining empty, to appreciate their majesty, to host conferences or to be rented out for private events. A restaurant will open soon.

The rich archaeological collection (more than one hundred thousand objects), some fragments of which are exposed on the first floor, is linked to this marly region of Champagne, the marl being a rock favorable to the conservation of fossils. There are also torques and ornaments or everyday utensils of the Celtic peoples.

Place of life, exchange and reflection

The objects of wine occupy the last two floors: wine-making machines from the XIXe and XXe centuries, bottles of all shapes, ditto for glasses, a wall of secateurs in an arty presentation, a model of cooperage, and then information, on the wall or in film, to understand the geography of the terroirs, the grape varieties, the making the beverage, the mystery of the bubble, etc.

The scenography is simple, elegant, interactive, the educational device offering several levels of reading. Playful questions are displayed at children’s height. “Everyone must be able to find something that speaks to them”, explains Laure Ménétrier, director and curator of the Epernay Museum, which intends to make “A place of life, exchange and reflection”.

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