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Regions of France - Champagne-Ardenne

This region is famous the world over for it's sparkling wine - the essential ingredient for any celebration. According to European law, only sparkling wine produced in this area, to the strict requirements, can legally be called Champagne. So fiercely gaurded is the name that when Yves Saint-Laurent released a new perfume called "Champagne", the powerful maisons sued to force him to change it - and won!

The region of Champagne-Ardenne in the north east of France is made up of four departments: Ardennes, Aube, Haute-Marne and Marne.

The area is rich in history with some of the most spectacular scenery in France. While many people travel there to visit the champagne houses, the region has a long commercial and religious history, which has resulted in impressive architecture and art. There are numerous beautiful buildings and churches to discover and charming towns to visit.

The glitzy cities of Reims and Épernay are popular with vistors as many of the most exclusive champagne houses can be found here. Troyes is a little more off the beaten track. With its medieval timber-framed town centre, it is well worth a visit. There are also lakes, rivers, canals and forests to explore in the countryside.

And while you're there - what to eat and drink? Well, champagne, of course, but the region also has some other delights in store for you.

The Cheese

o Cendre de Champagne - This is a soft cow's milk cheese with a natural rind.

o Chaource - A creamy, soft cow's milk cheese with a faint smell of mushrooms.

o Chaumont - A soft cow's milk cheese with a washed rind.

o Langres - An unpasteurized, farmhouse cheese that, upon maturity is creamy with a smoky, bacon aroma.

o Ricey Cendre - A soft, cow's milk cheese with a natural rind.

The Cuisine

The region serves such hearty dishes as andouillette Troyes, a tripe sausage that may not be to everyeone's liking and potée champenoise. The later is a pôte-au-feu consisting of smoked ham, from the Ardennes, cabbage and sausage. The region is abundant in wild game, which lends to many specialty dishes. Local ingredients also contribute to many fish and seafood dishes.

The Agriculture and Industry

Champagne's soil is mainly chalk, and the region's topography is principally that of a plateau. The region is known for sheep raising, wool manufacturing and cheese. But, of course, it is best known for the production of champagne. I'll drink to that!