THE CIRCUIT OF IRON SIGNS
This circuit will allow you to learn more about the village of Hautvillers by walking its streets and observing its traditional wrought iron signs.
You will discover with the help of explanations and anecdotes the meaning of some of the 140 signs appearing in the village!
Departure and arrival in front of the Tourist Office, red dot on the map.
|Train – Rue de la Porte d’en Bas
Hautvillers has never known any railway, but lot of Altavillois (resident) have been or are railwaymen.
|Plumbing– Rue de la Porte d’en Bas
This house used to belong to the plumbing service. one of their worker used to live there.
|Hood– Rue de la Porte d’en Bas
The hood, an essential tool in the past since it was used both for working the vines and for transporting clothing, food and drink.
|Wash house – Route de Champillon
This is the second wash house of the village, a close on from 1832 located down in the village. It was for poor people because of its floor bowl.
|Hautvillers/Alsace – Rue Saint Vincent
This iron sign represents the twinning between Hautvillers and the Alsace. Michel, winegrower in Hautvillers has married Marie Paule who was born in Eguisheim in Alsace. That’s why at the top of the sign we can see the blazon of Hautvillers (the keys) and the one of Mulhouse (the wheel).
|Champagne Jean-Philippe Bosser – Rue de Bacchus
This iron sign is the most photographied of the village and represent the steps of vinification. First there are works of the vineyard and harvest, then the work of vine. The fifth character has the easist role, the tasting.
|Champagne Pierrot-Laboureur – Rue de la Hubarde
This sign represents the origin of the resident, the lady is from Paris and the mister of from Hautvillers. We can also see the arms of Paris and Hautvillers. The Eiffel Tower is surrounding of vineyard and finished by a bottle where we can see some mousse.
|Wash house– Rue des Buttes
Hautvillers used to have 2 wash house : the wash house at the top and the wash house of the down.
Fed by springs in the forest, the upper wash house was used by the inhabitants coming to do their laundry. The basin being in height, it was not necessary to lower oneself and was therefore reserved for rather well-to-do people.
|Barraks – Rue Dom Pérignon
This building by its structure was called by the Altavillois “the barracks”. In this barracks lived Paul Lecourt who exercised various “small trades”. Once a week, he turned into a garbage collector to pick up the garbage cans with his van. During the period of sulphating and harvesting, he did what we now call service delivery. But throughout the year, with a vehicle from his imagination and “armed” with its steel bench, he cut the firewood delivered by Maison Adam which would supply the stoves when winter came.
|Trimming – Rue Dom Pérignon
This sign represents “trimming”. For the sake of doing well, the ironworker has confused a winegrower’s dress with a wine merchant’s outfit… It is indeed an apron and a wine merchant’s blouse that the character wears.
|Snake of Esculape – Rue Dom Pérignon
The Aesculapian serpent and the needle are symbols of care. But let’s not forget that the nurse Liliane Fort is in Champagne, so we find the sun and the bunch of grapes.
|Robert Bernard – Rue Dom Pérignon
Robert Bernard, former emblematic figure of Hautvillers, by his appearance and his “tonsure” was designated as a worthy “descendant” of the monks of the Hautvillers abbey. Wine merchant by profession, it is on a barrel that he appears tasting the beverage dear to the region.
|Weapons of Champagne – Rue Dom Pérignon
This sign shows the coat of arms of Champagne. To express the belonging to the wine Champagne, it was added in addition to the bunches of grapes and the vine leaves, the tool used during the trimming, the shears.
|The scribe monk – Rue Henri Martin
This house was built in the year VI of the Republic with stones from the old communal church. It housed the Town Hall as well as the first school which was the boys’ school from 1865 to 1893. The scribe represents the link between the time when the civil status register was filled in by a clergyman and the one we know now, where all civilians are re-employed by a layman, the town hall clerk.
|Enseigne tonneau – Rue Henri Martin
Two winegrowers depositing with the same movement a bunch of grapes in the same barrel symbolizing life in a cooperative. This house, after having belonged to the Commune of Hautvillers until the end of the 19th century and having passed through various hands, served as a building and cellar for the Hautvillers Wine Cooperative.
|Planer – Rue Henri Martin
This carpenter has traveled a lot in the village. It was first installed opposite the abbey church where Mr. Schneider, a carpenter-cabinetmaker, lived in the 1950s. Then, he made a getaway a few meters down the same street as the house of Monsieur Lemaire, carpenter in the 1960s. Finally he found his final place on rue Henri Martin in the home of Monsieur Doyen, carpenter in the 1970s.
This typical Champagne house with different architectural characteristics is listed in the Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions in Paris. It is typically Champagne because it has red bricks around the windows and the door, the sitting dog, the bull’s eye, the mullioned windows and the carriage door with a basket handle.
|Basket – Rue Henri Martin
Here once stood a grocery store. This is the reason why we find on this facade the basket of the housewife containing vegetables, fruits and the liter of table wine.
|Head of beef – Rue Henri Martin
It used to be a butcher shop. Today we find the Champagne Fedyk there as well as guest rooms.
|Plow – Rue Henri Martin
This sign, made from a photograph, represents Marceline and Emile Boyer. He is seated at the winch towing the plow and she, leaning on her “squeegee”, looks at him. The winch was used in the vineyards when the slope did not allow the horse, and later the tiller, to pass. The “squeegee” is used to cut weeds, as its name suggests by scraping the ground.
|Vine prunning – Rue Henri Martin
On this sign is represented a winegrower carrying out the pruning of vines. This took place from February to April. Now the trend is to start pruning or pre-pruning in November.
|Firefighter – Rue Henri Martin
Hautvillers, like all villages, had its fire brigade and its fire engine. To indicate where it was stored, a firefighter was attached to the wall with a fire hose climbing the large ladder. If Hautvillers no longer has firefighters, the lance still exists. In addition, this former house was that of a rich champagne merchant from Reims, but also the first house in the village to have running water by gravity.
|Glass of Champagne – Rue Henri Martin
In 1967, Eguisheim agreed gastronomic nuptials with Hinterzarten, a German town in the Black Forest. At the end of the festivities, Jean Bosser, then deputy mayor of Hautvillers was invited as well as a delegation from Altavilloise to go to Hinterzarten. At the bend of a street, he saw a sign that should not spoil his dwelling house, he photographed it, and that is how Hautvillers has a replica of a sign from this town in the Black Forest.
|School – Rue Henri Martin
For a school, what could be more normal than to find children holding hands under a large windmill, a very popular toy before the much more sophisticated ones of our time arrived.
|Sun – Rue Henri Martin
The sun representation means that champagne and joy go hand in hand. The crown indicates that this beverage is the “King of wines”.
|Enseigne Jean Couten / Centaure – Rue de la Fontaine Gilet
This sign represents a family memory, an ex-libris of grandfather Jean Couten, mayor of Hautvillers for 32 years that signs flourished on the pediment of Altaville houses. The centaur on this sign represents the owner’s astrological sign, which is Sagittarius.
|Glass / sun – Rue de Cumières
From this sign emanates all the symbolism of champagne: the foam overflowing from the flute, and the sun.
|Winemaker – Rue de Cumières
It is one of the rare signs with different faces that we meet in the village. Unfortunately, during its renovation, the face of the winemaker was changed and thus his origin.
|Enseigne feuille de vigne – Rue de l’Abbaye
Through this sign, everything that makes the richness of our region is represented: the vine leaf for the plant, the grapes as the fruit of this plant and of course the wine produced from this fruit.
|Champagne headdresses – Rue de l’Eglise
The headdresses that we see on this sign are Champagne headdresses. The owner’s parents cultivated both the vines and the land. Also to the headdresses, a bunch of grapes and ears of wheat were added.
|Longship– Rue de Cumières
Inscription of the motto of Paris. The former owner being Parisian, we can observe on this sign a resumption of the Parisian motto “Fluctuât nec mergitur” meaning “I sail without ever sinking” revisited in “Nectar amat nec mergitur” meaning this time “I like the Champagne without ever sinking”.
|Old relay station – Rue de Cumières (Champagne Marion Bosser)
This is where visitors to the abbey stayed. At the time of the Benedictines, only the sisters and daughters of the King of France had the privilege of staying within the enclosure of the abbey in a building called my Maison des Dames du France. Having become a coaching inn and then a hotel-restaurant, its culinary activity ceased in the mid-1980s.
|Winemaker – Rue de la Croix de Fer
Here we go back to the old days. The vines are not worked in cordon or chablis, but in crowds. Moreover, the winegrower’s costume dates from the beginning of the 20th century. It should not be thought that the profession of the vine is only reserved for men, many works are carried out by women who contribute enormously to the smooth running of the exploitation. The winegrower’s headdress is called a bagnolet.
|Work of the vineyard– Rue de la Croix de Fer
The owner of this house wanted to show one of the works in the vineyard that he did when he was working the vineyard, going up the earth to the hood. The Champagne vineyard is planted on the hillsides. Regularly, following storms, the earth gullied by the rain piles up below. It is then necessary to go up to the top of the vine. The hood was also used in transporting manure for amendment.
|Skidding bar – Rue de la Croix de Fer
When mechanization did not yet exist, or was in its infancy, the transport of mannequin baskets from the vineyard to the cart was done using the skid bar. This bar had two hooks through which the handles of the dummy basket were passed. Two men could carry 100 to 110 kg of grapes in this basket.
|Harvester Taittinger – Rue de la Croix de Fer
As the Larousse dictionary indicates, the word press is used in a double sense, the press building where the grapes are pressed. In this house, we not only pressed the grapes, but during the harvest, hordons (team of pickers) from the North of France were also housed there.
|Weapons of Champagne F.L – Rue des Buttes
On this sign, certainly one of the oldest by its age, appears on one side the arms of Champagne and on the other side old tools used in the work of the vine.
|Jean Bliard – Rue des Buttes
Jean Bliard was the last winegrower to plow his vines with a horse-drawn plow. Today, he continues to “turn”, “butter” and “start” his plantations, but on a tractor. Practicing organic farming, Jean and his son produce an “organic” champagne.
|Mercure – Place de la République (Office de Tourisme)
In Roman mythology, Mercury with winged feet presided over commerce, eloquence and the transmission of messages from the Jupiters. This is why a sign representing him has been affixed to the facade of what was once the village post office. This was the first of a long series. It was inaugurated during Dom Pérignon’s last party in 1954.
|King Henri IV – Rue de Bacchus
Dating from 1521, the house in la Halle is certainly one of the oldest in the village. It is said that in this house there was once an inn in which Henri IV spent good times with pretty young women when he came to Champagne to go to his stronghold of Ay.
This tour is also available for free on the app Idvizit