3cellars to visit Haveacorkingbreak Champagnecombinesitsfamousbeveragewithamazingfoodandscenery BY OLIVIA WALMSLEY The home of bubbly: Epernay is the town where Champagnes eponymous beverage was invented 1Piper-Heidsieck, Reims Whizzround the cellars of MarilynMonroes fave in an electric cart 2Pommery, Reims Looks like afairytale castle, all turrets andwrought iron. The cellars wereoriginally dug in Roman times. 3Mot & Chandon, EpernayVisit the HQ of the worlds biggest producer of champagne WHATS GOING ON? FOND of fizz? Why not make a pil- grimage to its birthplace this autumn? The annual harvest or vendange is held in September -- the perfect time to visit Champagne. Champagne grapes (chardonnay, pinot noir and pinot meunier) must be picked by hand. Thats some job, considering that three billion glasses of the stuff are glugged every year. Accordingly, the hills are abuzz with activity during the harvest. Almost every village is involved and there are festivals galore. Mainly located in Reims, Epernay and Chlons-en-Champagne, you can visit the major champagne houses and explore their beautiful cellars. To roam the vineyards, take the Champagne Tourist Trail. It stretches for 600km, with about 80 cellars and other attractions to choose from. BED DOWN GRAPE ESCAPES one-off Harvest Weekend runs from 18-20 September, giving you the opportunity to spend time in a small, family-run grand cru champagne house and join the locals picking grapes. The weekend costs from 359 per person and includes a return Dover to Calais ferry crossing, two nights B&B, a days coach tour that includes a visit to a small cham- pagne house to pick grapes, a three- course lunch with bubbly, a visit to a top champagne house including tastings, a four-course dinner at a local restaurant and a guide. Visit grapeescapes.net REFUEL THE great restaurants of Reims boast a constellation of Michelin stars. Chef Arnaud Lallement, in LAssiette Champenoise, a 19th-century hotel and restaurant, has two. DONT MISS MAKE sure you see Epernay, the scenic heart of the region. The champagne industry was founded there and it is still home to many famous houses. HOW TO GET THERE TAKE the Eurostar from St Pancras to Gare du Nord station in Paris, then walk to Gare de LEst (10 minutes away). From there its an easy 45-minute trip to the Champagne- Ardenne region, 89 miles east. The journey time is just over four hours, (raileurope.co.uk). MORE DETAILS tourisme-champagne-ardenne.com 30 Monday, 10 August 2009 London Lite Wetellyouwheretogoandwhen... Champagnetrail index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html