Seniors Journey to Hautvillers, France

746550215 Many seniors enjoy a glass of sparkly champagne from time to time. If we trace the history of the bubbly beverage, a visit to Hautvillers in France is a must.

Hautvillers (pop. 864) is a commune in the Marne department in north-eastern France. The Abbey of St. Peter which existed in this town until the French Revolution was the home of the famous Dom Pérignon, a Benedictine monk who, back in 1670, developed the process for making champagne. The legend of Dom Pérignon adds an intangible yet real halo to Hautvillers.

Called “Hautvillers” (high), it is indeed up on the slopes. The French feel strongly that “authentic champagne” comes only from the champagne region in France.  I learned that the Romans were the first to plant vineyards in this area, so its history goes way back.


 This Senior Spent Two Weeks In The Region

This Abbey of St. Peter warmly greeted Dom Pérignon, whose life was  closely associated with the creation of champagne. Dom Pérignon collaborated with another Benedictine monk to a develop a process called “méthode champenoise.” The bubbles in the bottle did indeed create this well-known effect.

Dom Pérignon’s tomb lies today in the chancel of the Saint-Sindulphe abbey church. Senior visitors find Hautvillers to be a charming wine-producing village lined with old houses decorated with a wide array of forged iron shop signs.


Moi, I did not think I liked champagne until I spent two weeks living in the champagne vineyard region. I served as a tour group leader with  Elderhostel (now called Road Scholar). The program was called Food and Wine of France. Sampling a variety of champagne daily, I discovered it to be quite tasty. The Guardian suggests  you consider following the Champagne Wine Route as we did.

 Seniors Learn About Wine Making


At harvest time, grape pickers in Champagne begin the month long harvest called les vendanges, sometimes even hiring seniors to help with the task.

The winemakers will then do a single press of the three grape varieties used to make Champagne —Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier—bottle it, and wait until the carbon dioxide builds into a delicate fizz through a two-step fermentation process known as the méthode champenoise.


Three years makes a nonvintage bottle. Vintage Champagnes—meaning those of a particular year, such as the famed Dom Pérignon, can take much longer, often at least a decade. The oldest champagne-world record was set by an 1825 Perrier-Jouet and it was still good.

The winemaker hospitality in this region is as legendary as is the surrounding landscape that overflows with vineyards. The Abbey of Saint-Pierre is a major attraction in Hautvillers.

TripAdvisor has been to the region and lays out seven things to do, four restaurants not to be missed and suggested lodging and vacation rentals. Seniors, plan to stay a few days in Hautvillers: Le Berceau du Champagne, the Cradle of Champagne. -jeb

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