Walking the paths of the Montagne de Reims Regional Natural Park means traveling through a multitude of fascinating eras: the Gallo-Roman golden age, the Middle Ages, or even the Great War which struck the region . In turn invaded, exploited, destroyed then rebuilt, the territory is full of unique gems passed down from past generations. So, are you ready to go back in time to explore this rich cultural heritage?
The villages of the Montagne de Reims
Discreet at first glance, the traditional rural architecture of the Montagne de Reims nevertheless deploys many lovely shades. Their origin? The local subsoil, which houses a wide variety of construction materials, distributed heterogeneously throughout the territory.
The facades of each village, even the simplest, are decorated with elaborate decorations (cornices, bands, frames, etc.) in bricks or cut stone. The roofs, mainly in red terracotta tiles, they also contribute to the general harmony of these towns and hamlets.
To learn more about the materials and colors of Champagne buildings, go to the Maison du Parc to see our demonstration space!
Otherwise, leave stroll through the grouped villages typical of the territory, constrained by the relief and the vineyard. At the bend of an alley or through a chartil, they invite you to discover quiet courtyards and gardens, protected behind high walls. Here, wine architecture is everywhere : grape harvesters with their buildings located around a vast courtyard, presses with large doors to accommodate the grapes after the harvest, old workers' houses created to accommodate the employees of Champagne houses, wine cooperatives or even elegant trading houses.
The Romanesque churches
Memories of the Middle Ages, the Romanesque churches punctuate the territory with poetry. Many were enlarged or partly modified between the XNUMXthe and the XVIe century. Often very damaged, or even completely destroyed during the Great War, they were then valiantly rebuilt in a neo-Romanesque style. Their original vaults, columns and arches have thus come back to life, in homage to the meticulous art of their builders.
In the Ardre valley, in the center of the communal cemeteries surrounded by a wall, the Romanesque churches are usually short and stocky. They are all topped by square or rectangular towers ending in a two-sloped roof, called “saddle bell towers”.
Built of stone, wood or bricks, bucolic wash houses and fountains are today an integral part of our heritage, whether they are rich or more modest. Formerly favored places for women, many of them have in fact been preserved, such as in Avenay-Val-d'Or, Sermiers, Trépail, Sacy, Germaine, Louvois or in the hamlet of Orcourt. During low water periods, you can even see the rest of the Tours-sur-Marne wash boat in the Marne!
The south of the Park also has very pretty bridges, locks, lock houses and weirs, which follow one another along the side canal of the Marne. For example, don't miss the astonishing swing bridge of Bisseuil, the weirs of Tours-sur-Marne, or the lock and the lock keeper's house in Dizy. Guaranteed rejuvenating atmosphere…
The vineyard lodges
The vineyard lodges are to the landscape of the Montagne de Reims what bubbles are to champagne: inseparable! Made of bricks, wood or stone, these constructions are located in the heart of the vineyard. If they once served as places of shelter or storage, they gradually lost this use in favor of the modernization of viticultural techniques.
However, for many winegrowers these lodges still evoke childhood memories, family meals, happy encounters and delicious sharing. They also remain prime hiding places that little owls love to build their nest!
Memories of the Great War
Culminating at more than 200 meters above sea level, the Montagne de Reims played a crucial role during the First World War : for four years, it served as a promontory to observe the front line which extended from Fort de la Pompelle to Suippes. For example, on the heights of Verzy, the remains of Mount Sinai Observatory allow us to dive back into this endless war of positions.
The Montagne de Reims was also the scene of many fights. In 1914, during their invasion of northeastern France, the Germans were stopped there during the 1re Battle of the Marne. Then begins a war of position, attrition and trenches, which will leave a lasting mark on the region. In 1918, the German offensives and counter-offensives launched during the 2e Battle of the Marne left behind multiple cemeteries and necropolises, testifying to the violence of the conflict.
Deeply scarred, the territory of the Park counts as eleven military cemeteries. Three of the most important necropolises can be visited in the communes of Bligny and Marfaux. The remains of 4 German soldiers, 417 Italian fighters and 3 Tommies are buried there, without hierarchical distinction. More than eighty war memorials were erected in the form of engraved plaques or obelisks, sometimes accompanied by sculpted figures. The churches of Saint-Imoges and Ville-en-Selve contain a moving commemorative stained glass window.
Are you hungry for more historical discoveries? Don't wait any longer to browse our tourist brochures!