Hôtel du Marc, Veuve Clicquot’s private mansion in Reims, France, about 90 miles northeast of Paris, looks much as it has since it was built in 1840. So painstaking was its recent renovation, even shrapnel divots from World War I were preserved in its Roman stone facade. Step through the new translucent black-glass awning, however, and you’ll find the estate is full of subtle updates and striking designs.
This past fall, the 19th century mansion of the House of Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin, known as the Hotel du Marc, reopened after four years of renovations. The neoclassic structure, which serves as private guest quarters for those lucky enough to be invited by the Champagne house, has been entirely restored. Architect Bruno Moinard and a team of historical experts reworked the façade, which was severely damaged during WWI, down to the interiors.
Bruno Moinard is today one of the most elegant, sophisticated and yet contemporary architects and designers. His work for Cartier, Hermès and several hotels and private houses around the world are great achievements. “At the entrance, the magic commences,” says project designer Bruno Moinard. Along one wall, a pleated accordion of age-worn mirrors reflects the light of a crystal chandelier, creating what Moinard calls “twinkling origami.” Beyond the entranceway is the mansion’s most traditional room: a wood-paneled dining area redone in matte black and gold filigree, with ash parquet floors and a smoked-glass crystal chandelier.
As befits the times, the restoration of the Hôtel du Marc has fully integrated an environmental approach. The building can achieve 85% autonomy in energy and reduce its carbon footprint by 90%. Heating and air conditioning are provided from geothermal sources thanks to an underground water table.
The hotel was once the private residence of Madame Clicquot herself, on the land she acquired in 1822. Later offered to Edouard Werlé (1801-1884), her successor and the mayor of Reims, The Werlé family were known for organizing much of the town’s social life: hosting numerous dinners, receiving leading members of French society, and hosting visiting clients from around the world. After reacquiring the building in 1907, the house of Veuve Clicquot continued this tradition of genteel hospitality by offering a stay at Hôtel du Marc to its prestigious guests, many of whom travel their to taste its renowned wines, explore the iconic Champagne region, and discover the “French art of living”.
Veuve Clicquot’s Hotel du Marc, which is barely a hotel at all ~ more of a magical guest mansion of sorts in Reims that Veuve Cliquot uses for special occasions ~ includes some lovely themed guest rooms filled with modern art as well as hints of its past!
From the beautiful staircase and the Chanel like faceted mirrors, to the Veuve-yellow Smeg and wall of champagne… the ornate chandeliered dining rooms to the modern portraits lining the hallway to the guest rooms… there is so much to take in.
The cellar stores wine used in the house, as well as rare bottles, still wines and (eventually) Andree Putman’s 2005 writing table for the brand. The feature also allows the building to have a Canadian well, which keeps the building 13 degrees cooler in the summer as well as providing heat in the winter, part of the winemaker’s ongoing efforts to be environmentally conscious.
The property is like a magical fairyland; part history, part fantasy, the embodiment of the brand’s legendary past and enduring future as a global standard-setter.