Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Champagne Moments; BRETT GIBBONS Raises a Glass or Two to the French Region That Gives the World's Most Celebrated Drink Its Name

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Champagne Moments; BRETT GIBBONS Raises a Glass or Two to the French Region That Gives the World's Most Celebrated Drink Its Name

Article excerpt

Byline: BRETT GIBBONS

AVING Champagne tastes when your finances only stretch to beer is never easy.

HBut there is a way to sample the best of bubbles and enjoy some fantastic French hospitality - by heading straight to the home of this celebration tipple.

It's a chance to let the train take the strain all the way from a local station in the UK to the heart of Champagne country. Once there you can follow in the footsteps of Napoleon at some of the most notable houses producing the sparkling white.

And it is wall-to-wall Champagne in the region, especially in the two main centres of production Reims and Epernay.

After my three-day stay , I can now tell my Blanc des Blancs from my vintage Cru and easily identify a magnum from a jeroboam.

It really is easy to reach the heart of this unique region which is brimming with history, good food, and great places to visit.

Transport was smooth from the time I stepped on the Virgin train, all the way to northern France just eight hours later.

After my initial journey from Birmingham, I arrived reinvigorated in London for my Eurostar service, and it was first class all the way.

If you're heading to London from most regions of the UK, it's wise to book your ticket as far in advance as possible and splash the extra cash for a first class fare.

After leaving the dedicated Eurostar terminal at St Pancras, it was just two hours before disembarkation at Gare Du Nord in Paris.

Let's be honest, it's not the best venue to welcome travellers and can feel a little intimidating - a view reinforced by the walk to nearby Gare De Oest for the high-speed service to Reims, which takes you through the less salubrious parts of the capital.

Hang on to your bags and don't stop for street hawkers. Better still, take a taxi costing around seven euros (PS5).

However, when you board the ultra-quick service to Champagne country you can almost taste the bubbles before a cork has been popped.

This train is FAST! reaching speeds of up to 300 kilometres per hour, so the trip to the region of Ardennes and Champagne takes just 40 minutes as the industrial regions of the capital give way to the vineyards and rolling hills of rural France.

Reims is a great town with a lively university population and plenty of bars, restaurants and a plethora of champagne houses. There's also a host of museums, markets and shops dedicated to - you guessed it - Champagne.

Some of the world's most famous names are based in this charming area, and a visit to one of the legends is a must.

The house of Mumm is based in an ornate gated courtyard where an imposing chateau-like HQ sits above miles of underground cellars housing millions of bottles of champagne.

The vineyards stretch south over Montagne de Reims to the town of Epernay which, although modest in size, is known worldwide as the capital of Champagne. …

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