Although Reims loudly proclaims itself to be the last word in Champagne production, Épernay—on the south bank of the Marne—is really the center of the bubbly drink's spirit. It was here in 1741 that the first full-blown Champagne house, Moët (now Moët et Chandon), took the lifetime passion of Dom Pérignon and turned it into an industry. Unfortunately, no relation exists between the fabulous wealth of Épernay's
illustrious wine houses and the drab, dreary appearance of the town as a whole. Most Champagne firms—Moët et Chandon (20 av. de Champagne); Mercier (68–70 av. de Champagne); and De Castellane (57 rue de Verdun)—are spaced out along the long, straight Avenue de Champagne, and although their names may provoke sighs of wonder, their facades are either functional or overly dressy.