The silhouette and quality of the hillside landscapes of the Montagne de Reims are inseparable from the traditional architecture of the villages nestled there! And the latter do not lack character thanks to the appearance of the walls and roofs, the textures and colors of the materials, and the volumes of the buildings. Open your eyes wide: here, we tell you everything about this beautiful variety, which we never tire of admiring!

The components of traditional architecture

The roofs, mainly made of red terracotta tiles, like the walls coated in beige tones, contribute greatly to the general harmony of the built complexes. In constructions, even the most modest, numerous details (façade moldings, locksmith elements, enclosing walls, etc.) demonstrate the attention paid to technical, but also aesthetic, quality.

Very discreet at first glance, the traditional architecture of the Montagne de Reims Regional Natural Park is full of nuances.

Caroline Feneuil, architect of the Park

The materials

The traditional built heritage of the Park is determined by the activities of the territory and local constraints: topography, climate, history… It also results mainly from the materials available in the subsoil: rocks (chalk, limestone, millstone, etc.), clays (for the manufacture of tiles and bricks), sand, lime or even “brick earth” for “earth tiles”.

In order to extract these materials, numerous dedicated sites once dotted the Montagne de Reims. A architectural tradition and several constructive techniques were thus forged. Will you be able to spot the following components during your next walks in our pretty villages?

Lime coatings 

The production of coatings became widespread during the XNUMXth century.e century, with the development of lime production. Usually exposed stone or completely covered, their role is to protect the masonry. Manufactured on each construction site, these coatings use different sands, more or less clayey : this is where their characteristic color comes from, varying from light beige to earth tones!

The millstone 

The millstone construction is especially present in municipalities close to the plateau. Here, the abundant millstone was heavily exploited. We find it implemented in various devices on porches, bases, entire facades, even vineyard lodges. A real marker of local identity!

The earth tile 

In the Park, and more generally in Champagne, good building stones are rare. This context led populations to use a local and economical material: raw earth. Very widespread, the mud brick technique is also called “adobe” or “earth tile”. Made up of highly calcareous clay-sandy soil, this brick is shaped in a mold, then compacted and dried in the sun before being implemented. Sensitive to water, it is associated with other materials and often sheltered or coated. 

Terracotta: tiles and bricks 

Like raw earth, terracotta has become particularly popular as a replacement for good building stones. Resistant and easy to install, it is very frequently used locally through bricks for the structural elements of the building and roof tiles. Moreover, it is the exploitation of clays and sands which allowed the establishment of numerous tile factories and brickworks (Ludes, Dizy, Bouzy, Saint-Imoges, Jouy-les-Reims, etc.) which have now disappeared. With its different shapes and colors, terracotta gives a strong character to the architecture !

And also: wood! 

The forest has always fueled local construction. Until the middle of the XNUMXth centurye, a large part of the buildings were made of wood. But various factors (shortage, new materials, etc.) have gradually reduced its use in structural uses. Today, the craze for ecological construction, combined with the evolution of techniques, is once again stimulating the development of wooden buildings!

Constructive characters

The organization and layout of buildings 

In village centers, buildings are often dense and clustered. Combining several buildings, the buildings are adjoining. They organize interior spaces, intimate courtyards or gardens surrounded by high walls. The resulting urban fabric is characterized by continuous street lines, with a predominance of minerals. 

Simple volumes and openings higher than wide 

The constructions generally follow a rectangular plan, with a two-sided roof, sometimes with hipped roofs. They can also combine several buildings in an L or U shape. Indeed, if the singularity of the building does not lie in the complexity of the volumes, it is rather the richness of details constructions that charm the eye! Taller than wide, the openings are usually highlighted by brick or stone frames

When a property brings together several buildings (housing and activities), access to the interior of the plot is via un porch or chartil. An important element of local heritage, the porch can be straight or curved, made of stone, brick, with a wooden or metal lintel, aligned with the street or set back... The chartils, in addition to being places of passage and service, were also used to work in the dry in case of bad weather.

Decorated facades

On each facade, you can contemplate more or less developed ornaments, called moldings. The structural elements of the building (bay frames, chains, lintels, etc.) are the main support for these brick, stone or ceramic decorations, which bring a touch of color (and sometimes fantasy!) to facades.

Other local architecture worth a look

The local built landscape is also marked by the presence of particular architectures, small “singularities” to discover as you visit! 

Villas and houses of notables 

Opulent, with an exclusively residential vocation, they stand out for their generally complex volumetry. Their eclectic style presents many ornaments. It thus mixes local and regionalist influences, even Art Deco, by combining local materials (the millstone in particular) and imported materials. 

Buildings of the Republic 

Public buildings (town halls, schools, post offices, village halls, etc.) stand out for their representation function the town halls-schools are emblematic of the major phase of reconstruction after the First World War: bringing together the main public services of the villages, particular attention was often given to them...

Wine heritage 

The local built landscape is marked by the presence of specific wine-growing constructions, adapted to the careful production of the iconic champagne!

  • Champagne trading houses : sometimes monumental, they bring together reception buildings and offices with sophisticated architecture (noble materials and rich decorations), as well as more rational operating buildings, around a courtyard. Recent constructions present a more “industrial” architecture, even a clearly contemporary bias. 
  • Workers' houses : the importance of trading in the champagne trade and, for a long time, the essential need for labor, explain the presence of these workers' houses. Grouped, repetitive, in linear form, they are touching vestiges of a bygone era. 
  • Cellars, cellars, grape harvesters and presses : these functional buildings house the different stages of making Champagne wine.
  • Wine cooperatives : recent, functional and voluminous, these buildings on the outskirts of villages essentially have an industrial character. They are also closely linked to the particular history of Champagne: cooperation ensures professional balance, allowing the vineyard to be independent from merchants.

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