Just north of popular Épernay, Hautvillers at first may seem like just another village in the countryside. But for true fans of Champagne, it has become a pilgrim's destination. That's because it is the birthplace of Champagne! The town's Saint-Pierre Abbey is where Dom Pérignon first made the bubbly elixir, and today he is buried in the abbey, now owned by Moët & Chandon.
But there's more to Hautvillers than simply this historical fact. A stroll through the streets reveals the whimsical iron signs that grace every public or commercial building and what lies within. And there are wine tastings at Au 36, charming dining options and lots of activities nearby. Hautvillers' motto is “Entre Vignes et Forêts,” meaning between the vineyards and the forest–the perfect place to discover the magic of this verdant region.
Moët et Chandon is a worldwide name today, but it didn't exactly come from humble beginnings. From the very start it was a favorite of King Louis XV, and soon after it was known throughout Europe as the Champagne to drink. From Napoleon to Queen Victoria, everyone wanted a glass of Moët et Chandon! Now under the umbrella brand of LVMH Moët Hennessy • Louis Vuitton, 26 million bottles are produced yearly, and the brand continues to be associated with the finer things in life.
But elitist, they are not. The Moët et Chandon headquarters in Epernay are open to the public for tours and tastings, and visitors can walk through the 17 miles of underground cellars, learn how Champagne is made and then choose from a selection of tastings that bring a new appreciation to this most celebratory of drinks.
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