1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Épernay

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ÉPERNAY, a town of northern France, capital of an arrondissement in the department of Marne, 88 m. E.N.E. of Paris on the main line of the Eastern railway to Châlons-sur-Marne. Pop. (1906) 20,291. The town is situated on the left bank of the Marne at the extremity of the pretty valley of the Cubry, by which it is traversed. In the central and oldest quarter the streets are narrow and irregular; the surrounding suburbs are modern and more spacious, and that of La Folie, on the east, contains many handsome villas belonging to rich wine merchants. The town has also extended to the right bank of the Marne. One of its churches preserves a portal and stained-glass windows of the 16th century, but the other public buildings are modern. Épernay is best known as the principal entrepôt of the Champagne wines, which are bottled and kept in extensive vaults in the chalk rock on which the town is built. The manufacture of the apparatus and material used in the champagne industry occupies many hands, and the Eastern Railway Company has important workshops here. Brewing, and the manufacture of sugar and of hats and caps, are also carried on. Épernay is the seat of a sub-prefect and has tribunals of first instance and of commerce, and communal colleges for girls and boys.

Épernay (Sparnacum) belonged to the archbishops of Reims from the 5th to the 10th century, at which period it came into the possession of the counts of Champagne. It suffered severely during the Hundred Years’ War, and was burned by Francis I. in 1544. It resisted Henry of Navarre in 1592, and Marshal Biron fell in the attack which preceded its capture. In 1642 it was, along with Château-Thierry, erected into a duchy and assigned to the duke of Bouillon.