Chalk Mines, Vestiges of an Abbey

Dating back to the 4th century and the Gallo-Roman era, these crayères, or “chalk pits,” were carved out for the purpose of extracting blocks of chalk – before becoming, 900 years later, the cellars of the Saint Nicaise Abbey. The chalk pits were joined by a network of corridors connecting the cellars, crypts and vaults to separate the champagnes with which the Benedictine monks traded. Destroyed during the French Revolution, the Abbey today exists only underground. Each year its vaults, which were kept intact, play host to more than 75,000 visitors, who come to marvel at the vestiges of one of the greatest expressions of Gothic architecture in the Champagne region.