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The specific cultural heritage of Montagne de Reims
The territory of the natural regional Park of Montagne de Reims is rich with a specific cultural heritage closely linked with the activity of Men and the World History. Invaded territory, exploited, destroyed and rebuilt, the Park is marked by the Gallo-Roman period, the Middle-Ages and the Wars that hit the region.
In 2016, the exceptional quality of winegrowing landscapes participated to the listing of « Champagne Hillsides, Houses and Cellars » to UNESCO’s World Heritage.
Quite discreet at first sight, the rural traditional architecture of Montagne de Reims is full of nuances linked to the variety and heterogeneous distribution in the subsoil of local construction materials.
In all villages, facades, even the plainest ones, are decorated with more or less rich elements: cornices, string courses or frames in bricks or dressed stone. The roof coverings mainly in red clay roof tiles, also participate a lot to the overall harmony of such building sets. But beside the materials used, the place where the buildings stand in Champagne area follows a characteristic gathering model forming intimate yards and favouring backyards. Many habitations and public buildings still hold this typical architectural heritage today. Discover the House of the Park, a demonstration space of the materials and colours of the buildings and the permanent exhibition « (e)co habit, think global > act local ».
Remembrance of Roman art and the Middle-Ages, Roman churches are scattered throughout the area. Strongly damaged, sometimes totally destroyed during the Great War, many of them have been rebuilt while keeping their vaults, bell towers, arches and columns in tribute to their builders’ art.
The Roman churches of the Ardre Valley are often short and stocky. They are all surmounted with square or rectangular towers ending with a saddle roof, called "bell towers". Most are located at the centre of the communal cemetery, itself with a surrounding wall. Most Roman churches were extended or altered partly between 13th and 16th century, others were rebuilt at the end of the First World War in a "neo-roman" style.
Favourite places for women before, many wash-houses have been kept like in Mareuil-sur-Ay, Dizy or at Orcourt hamlet. In low water periods, you can see, in the River Marne, the remains of the boat wash-house of Tours-sur-Marne. Built in stone, wood, bricks, in a modest or rich design, wash-houses and fountains are an integral part of the heritage today. At the south of the Park, bridges, locks, lockmasters’ houses, weirs are still present along the canal lateral to the Marne River. Don’t miss the amazing swing bridge of Bisseuil, the weirs of Tours-sur-Marne or even the lock and lockmaster’s house in Dizy.