Inventors remembered in the museums of France

Veuve Clicquot’s cellars, where vintage bottles of the house’s Champagne are stored

The Connexion dons its thinking cap and tours the country in search of a Eureka! moment in museums and houses dedicated to the memory of great inventions and the minds that made them

The list of ingenious French inventions, from the humble biro to the development of smart online media player system DivX, is impressively long.

Where would we be without – to take a few examples – photography, aspirin, Etch-a-Sketch, artificial silk, the oboe, roulette, neon lighting, the calculator, spirit level, steamboats, the parachute, hot-air balloon, the stethoscope, or pencil sharpener?

These are inventions that have changed the world, often in small but meaningful ways – but their names do not reveal much about whose brainchild they are, although it does not take much guesswork to realise what Poubelle and Braille gave us. Luckily the homes of some of France’s genius inventors are open to the public.

Any excuse for a road-trip around the Hexagon is a good one, but visiting the places where geniuses invented the modern world is inspirational.

Reims is a great place to visit.

It has a fantastic cathedral, a brilliant automobile museum, a fort, a Musée des Beaux-Arts, a planetarium, and a museum containing the actual room in which Germany signed the surrender documents ending the Second World War.

But the main attraction is champagne, all of which owes much to the woman who invented ‘remuage’ – a way of making the sparkling wine dry and crystal clear.

Madame Barbe-Nicole Clicquot (1777-1866) took on her husband’s wine business when he died, leaving her a widow at the age of 27, and became so successful that she became known as the Grande Dame of Champagne.


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