Widow Clicquot, more commonly known by the French title Veuve Clicquot, inherited her husband’s wine business when widowed at 27 and ran it for 40 years. The brand and company still bear the name of the Grand Dame of Champagne. Born Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin, Madame Clicquot bought a plot of land in the Rue du Marc in reims in 1822 and later gave it away to Edouard Werlé, the employee she chose to succeed her.
The construction of the neoclassical Hôtel du Marc was started on the site by Werlé in 1840 and completed in 1846 when he and his family moved in and began welcoming guests who had an interest in the yellow label from all over the world. In 1907 the company Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin acquired this majestic house and has been honoring its tradition of hospitality for selected guests ever since.
True to its motto: “only one quality, the finest” VCP embarked on a four year renovation of the treasured property in 2007. In addition to applying renewable energy sources to this ancient building, one of the objectives was to treat the façade to prevent further deterioration from wear and tear, while preserving memories of the First World War in Reims by not camouflaging any of the damage caused by shrapnel. With the interior, the aim was to preserve the heritage of the building and add a modern twist. Thanks to the many artisans and artists involved, the results are extraordinary.
Situated in the centre of Reims, a wooden carriage porch leads to a quiet courtyard and the mansion is accessed through a large glass and metal door covered by a glass canopy. Once inside, the principal architect Bruno Moinard, who has worked for both Cartier and Hermes, evokes the vineyard with muted tones the colour of chalk and grapes, a wrought iron and wooden bannister shaped like vines, mirrors with bubbles, a carpet that symbolizes the champagne region’s soil – it all calls for a glass of champagne. But first, a peek at Once upon a dream, the sleeping capsule designed especially for VCP by Mathieu Lehanneur for guests with jetlag or chronic insomnia – the Widow Clicquot is said to have been an insomniac – and the six bedrooms on the first floor, each inspired by a country, a season and key figures of the VCP story, their larger-than-life portraits displayed in the corridor.
The aperitif is taken in the Grand Salon where an eclectic mix of ornaments, art and pieces of furniture both antique and contemporary hold the ensemble together. Dinner is served in the splendid dining room where simple yet delicate dishes, thoughtfully chosen and prepared, enhance the different wines that accompany them. For coffee and tea, the party moves to the Atelier where an entire wall displays numerous bottles of champagne – a perfect end to an extraordinary day in a location where hospitality is a way of life.