Convents and Abbey.
The Mountain of Reims (also called the mountainous island) is one of the five areas that composes the Champagne, one of the most famous wine-growing areas of France, famous above all for the production of the homonymous wine, which is exported to all over the world. In the valleys with sunny slopes and dedicated to sheep grazing, clayey and undulating land have housed vineyards since the times of the Romans. In the XII century arose many great abbeys there - including those of St-Basles, Epernay, Hautvillers and Avernay - which planted vineyards in ecclesial properties. The cultivation in the vine had had such a great development that in the IX century a distinction between the wines of the Marne and those of the Montagne de Reims was introduced. In 816 the coronation of Charlemagne’s son, Luigi, contributed to the diffusion of the fame of Champagne wine among the aristocrats in France.
That of Philip VI, in 1328, led the court and the inhabitants of Reims to drink about 300 barrels of wine of the Coteaux Champenois. In the abbey of St-Basles, near Verzy, the Champagne wine was served during the festivities that ended the religious processions of the holidays. San Remigio, Bishop of Reims for 74 years until his death in 530, mentions the local vineyards in his will. Afterwards, the fame of these wines continued to flourish thanks to the commercial exchanges, but only at the end of the XVII century the young Benedictine monk, Dom Pérignon, appointed cellar master of the abbey of Hautvillers, succeeded in obtaining that natural fermentation during which the liquid foamed maintaining the clarity and, thanks to the “cuvée”, that is the use of grapes of different vines, obtained a rich bouquet.
Solved the problem of containers with strong bottles resistant to wine pressure and to their closure with cork stoppers tied by metal cages (instead of the wooden stopper and the cloth soaked in oil previously used), from the wine cellars of Reims and Épernay more and more bottles began to spread out, and also the Napoleonic campaigns contributed to its diffusion in Europe. The wine cellars, generally dug into clay and very large, can be visited.
The vineyards in the city
Le Vignoble de Montmartre
The last vineyards of Paris are located in Montmartre, on the north “butte” (hill) of the city. At the corner of rue des Saules and rue de Saint Vincent, the Clos Montmartre with its Rockwall gardens and rows of vines descend down the hill. The history of Montmartre vineyard probably dates back to the Gallo-Roman era, although the first official documents dated to 944 (“Annales du Chanoine Flodoard”). The production of wine grew considerably until the end of the XVIII century, thanks also to the abbesses of the Abbey of Montmartre, who rented the land only on the condition that grapes were grown in order to receive an income from the press.
In the mid-nineteenth century some construction projects threatened the area as long as in 1933 the wine tradition was recovered by a group of friends who re-planted Gamay Beaujolais, Pinot Noir, Seibel, Couderc, Seyve, Villard blancs et noirs and other varieties of different origins (Riesling, Muscat, Perle de Csaba, etc.). From that moment on, every year the first Saturday of October, the day in which the harvest announcement is held, this is the occasion for great celebrations. The wine is sold at auction and the proceeds donated to charity.
The Saint-Émilion Jurisdiction is an outstanding example of historical vineyards that have survived andhave been intact and in useup to now. Even today the landscape, embellished with historical monuments both in the cities and in the smaller towns, is entirely dedicated to wine. In 1999 the Old Jurisdiction of Saint-Émilion - which includes has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage list.
Viticulture was introduced by the Romans in the fertile region of Aquitaine (the “land of water” of the Roman empire) and later intensified in the Middle Ages. Here the glance of the Atlantic coast alternates with that of the Pyrenean peaks and with the harmony of the valleys of the Dordogne and the Garonne, the two great rivers that can be partially covered on comfortable boats. Added to this are the prehistoric caves, lush hills covered with woods and endless vine carpets, castles perched on the ridges of the mountains, ancient villages and historic centers of exceptional interest, built in the luminous white stone of Quercy.
Since the XI century, thanks to its fortunate placement along the route of pilgrims to Santiago de Compostela, many churches, monasteries and shelters have been built here. The Jurade was established in 1199, during the period of the British government, by King John Without Earth, in exchange for some privileges on the territory.
The area, located in the north-east quarter of the Gironde, on the slopes that dominate the valley crossed by the river Dordogne, is an important wine area of the Bordeaux area. The vineyards benefit from a particular microclimate and a soil of unique quality. Slopes, terraces, plateaus alternate over a total area of 5400 hectares with a total production of about 250000 hectoliters. The diversity of “terroirs” - composed of rock fragments, sand, gravel, clay and silt - goes well with well-defined vines (especially Merlot and then Cabernet, in the two types Franc and Sauvignon) giving life to theSaint-Emilion and Saint- Emilion Grand Cru AOC.
Must see attractions: Saint-Emilion, a medieval city with a monolithic and Romanesque church, the paintings of the Trinity chapel and the secrets of the catacombs. There is also the underground Museum of the Pottery, in the quarry whose stones were used in the XII and XIIIn centuries to build the city walls, and the Ecomuseo del Libournais, in the village of Montagne, to discover the civilization of the vine and wine of the territory.
News: Decima Edizione del “Festival du Court-Métrage en Lussacais” (www.libourne-tourisme.com, aprile 2010)
The great journey of Saint-Martin de Tours is the first that connects Eastern Europe to Western Europe, from Szombathely in Hungary to Candes-Saint-Martin in Touraine, through Italy and Slovenia. This long journey on the traces of San Martino – an indefatigable walker born in Hungary seventeen centuries ago, lived in Italy and died in Touraine in Candes-Saint-Martin - well represents the values of intercultural dialogue and the need to share the water, the air, the environment, cultures, knowledge, the right to education and to health. The French section of the saint's pilgrimage, which partly coincides with the Via Francigena and joins the European Cultural Routes network, can be retraced following three itineraries: Le Chemin de l’Été de Saint Martin (Chinon, Candes-Saint-Martin, Langeais, Tours), Le Chemin de l’Évêque de Tours (Poitiers, Ligugé, Le Louroux, Tours) and Le Chemin de Trèves (Tours, Vouvray, Amboise, Villedômer, Vendôme).