Over the weekend, the World Heritage Committee granted UNESCO World Heritage status to both the Burgundy and Champagne regions of France. The meeting, which took place in Bonn, Germany on Saturday, recognized the two areas for their history, contribution and exceptional cultivation in the industry of Champagne and wine making. France’s Culture Minister, Fleur Pellerin, was pleased with UNESCO’s decision, saying they “brought amply deserved recognition to these two regions, which have learned how to preserve and value their cultural and natural patrimony."
The first heritage site includes the hillsides, vineyards, houses and cellars where Champagne was developed, from the first sparkling wines in the early 17th century to its industrialization in the 19th century. This includes the historic vineyards of Hautvilliers, Aÿ and Mareuil-sur-Aÿ, Saint-Nicaise Hill in Reims, and the Avenue de Champagne and Fort Chabrol in Epernay. The committee praised the area for showing “clear testimony to the development of a very specialized artisan activity that has become an agro-industrial enterprise.” Since Champagne is only a 45-minute drive from Paris, it's easy to add this region to your Parisian itinerary.
A second world heritage title was awarded to portions of Burgundy, most notably the climates on the slopes of the Côte de Nuits and the Côte de Beaune south of the city of Dijon. Rather than being honored for its history and contribution to the industry like the Champagne region, Burgundy was given the world heritage title for their grape cultivation. The region’s vineyards are recognizable by the wine they produce due to “specific natural conditions (geology and exposure) as well as vine types and have been shaped by human cultivation.” The site includes both the vineyards and the surrounding villages which have been cultivating the grapes since the High Middle Ages.