Remembering Champagne Pol Roger’s Chantal Varenard de Billy: 1932 -2020

Champagne Pol Roger family member Chantal Varenard de Billy has died at the age of 87 following a long battle with Alzheimer’s and eventually succumbing to the Covid-19 virus.

Chantal and her husband Christian de Billy – who is Maurice Pol-Roger’s grandson and the fourth generation to own and run Maison Pol Roger

Born in 1932 in Epernay, Chantal was the youngest daughter of Louis Budin (1884-1972) and one of six children he had during his marriage to Marie Prevost (whom he married in 1907). Chantal was born into a Champagne family; indeed, the Champagne industry was to be a constant throughout her life. Chantal’s father, alongside her uncles, René Gallice and Henri Gallice, were instrumental in running and establishing a successful foreign and domestic market for Perrier-Jouët.

Louis’ success at Perrier-Jouët afforded him the honour of becoming Mayor of Epernay between 1935 and 1944, an honour which had previously befallen Maurice Pol-Roger between 1912 and 1918. 

Chantal married Christian de Billy (b. 1928) in 1955. Christian is Maurice Pol-Roger’s grandson and the fourth generation to own and run Maison Pol Roger. Chantal and Christian went on to have five children: Laurence, Evelyne, Véronique, Hubert and Axelle. Chantal’s sister, Anne-Marie, also married into the Pol Roger family, marrying Guy Pol Roger in 1938.

Chantal de Billy witnessed the occupation of Epernay during the Second World War and its liberation on 28th August 1944. Reflecting on the experience Chantal said that she “watched the fighting through the slits in the window of the Perrier-Jouet cellier. The Germans tried to hit the American troops on the avenue de Champagne with an artillery battery, positioned above Epernay where the Royal Champagne hotel is now located, but they did not succeed in getting the range right.  By 8pm, all the Germans had left Epernay.”

Chantal is survived by her husband Christian de Billy, her children, Laurence, Evelyne, Véronique and Hubert, eleven grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

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