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Ligne des Bulles, the Bubbles Line The TER (regional train) line between Epernay and Reims is called by some locals: Ligne des Bulles, the Line of the Bubbles. It makes stops at several villages in the woodlands and vineyards of the area, a great way to get to see some of the small Champagne towns and meet producers at their vineyards. Here are three of the best: Rilly-la-Montagne is a charming village, one of the oldest in the area; here history and tradition are closely entwined. At the town hall pick up a copy of a walking guide of the town and vineyards. Don't miss the 12th century church with its carved choir stall illustrating the stages of wine production. There are about 60 Champagne producers in the town and several offer cellar tours and tastings. Stop off for a special lunch at the splendid Chateau de Rilly, full on glamour amongst the vineyards. Ay whose motto is “the city that sparkles” is a lively sort of place. It’s said that King Henri IV of France loved the wines from here and owned his own wine press in Ay. Apparently, it was kept in the half-timbered house behind St Brice’s Church. Ay was already wellknown in the Gallo Roman period for the wines produced here. Around 40 producers are based in Ay and several offer cellar tours and tastings. Pop to the town hall to pick up a leaflet about the town (in English). There are several restaurants, mainly bistro style one of the most popular being the Rotisserie Henri IV named in honour of the town’s most famous fan. Avenay-Val-d’Or, just 7km from Epernay is sleepy and tranquil. There’s a 13th-16th century church and several Champagne houses to visit. From here it’s about a 20- minute walk to the tiny village of Mutigny from where you will get a wonderful view of the Montagne of Reims.
Moët et Chandon cellar entrance! The railway line from Paris reached Epernay in 1849 and trade in Champagne boomed which led to the naming of the Avenue de Champagne. Previously known as rue Royale, and Fauborg du Commerce, it was renamed in 1925 and now receives almost half a million visitors each year Epernay The train station is in the centre of Epernay so you don't have to walk far to reach the sites, including the worldfamous Avenue de Champagne. Here you can't help but ogle at the famous names and beautiful buildings that line this long road. Underneath it are 110km of cellars filled with bottles maturing slowly, watched carefully by experts. The first Champagne house opened on the avenue in 1729, it belonged to Nicolas Ruinart. As with Reims, taking a cellar visit is practically the law in this effervescent little town and few can resist the allure of Moët et Chandon who moved to the Avenue in 1743. Take a tour with greeters.com, an initiative in which local people, passionate about the area where they live, share their local knowledge with visitors, it’s free of charge and you’ll get a real insider’s view of Epernay.
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