Nestled above Fleury-la-Rivière, a few miles from Epernay, « la cave aux coquillages » (The Shellfishes cellar) has become a well liked tourist attraction, for both fossil lovers, and thrill seekers.
This is not a garden. It is an enchanted place ! Nestled over the cosy looking Hamlet of Fleury-la-Rivière, the shellfishes cellari s a true marvel. Not a slight touch of disorder in these underground meanders that reveals a several million years old history. The history of the earth, sea and cosmos. Patrice Legrand relies since 1977 on tiny tools to reveal all its secrets, all the surprises, all the magic of his fossiliferous world. Dug in galleries as straight as a die provides Champagne with a dreamlike image ; The sandy Champagne where 2 feet long Campaniles Giganteum reside, that are no match to the wine grower’s curiosity or scalpel. « We have slightly modified the course and linked up with the Clos de Montorgueil well » explains the wine grower. « It is of the utmost importance to show the different layers of fossils that provide the Fleury la Rivière soi lits distinctive caracteristics. »
« The shellfishes cellar » has been open for quite a while. It is alway full. Researchers, tourists, children, Press people come in ever greater numbers to discover its secret charms, in the underground pathways, galleries or in those remote corners where research work goes on in silence. There’s something monastic, somehow out of time in this ever growing scenery that does not seem to stop surprising us. « We could dig another 10 meters deeper, maybe more. This work does not seem to end » rejoices a jubilant Patrice Legrand.
In the calcareous sands, Legrand and his son Thibaud have dug 250 meters long galleries, where fossils from some of the richest wildlife species of the Eocene in the world are exposed. Their exceptionnaly preserved quality has convinced the wine grower to open them to the public that can from now on discover the impressive shell of the two feet long Campanile Giganteum.