Wine lovers from around the world flock to France for its sheer abundance of vineyards and vintages. While you don’t have to be a fan of grapes to take advantage of the wine regions, it certainly helps. France is also home to some of the world’s most beautiful scenery, so take one of the many ferry crossings to France from UK and discover a few wine producing areas with some the best views in the country…
Travel to the far eastern regions of France and you will find the beautiful wine region of Alsace. It’s located close to the border of Germany, which means the wines produced here have a heavy Germanic influence. Alsace follows the thinnest part of the Rhine River and the Vosges Mountains provide the perfect backdrop. With its famous wine route, Alsace is geared towards the wine tourist, so expect open vineyards, traditional timber villages and several sophisticated food choices (including 26 Michelin-starred restaurants) and plenty of excellent accommodation to match. Visit in October when the annual festivals take place for a real Alsace wine experience.
If you like your wine white, then visit the Loire Valley, France’s main producer of white wine. Famous for its natural beauty, gorgeous châteaux and picturesque towns, the Loire Valley makes an excellent travel destination. Like Alsace, the Loire Valley is ready to welcome the wine tourist, with many of the vineyards being conveniently located on the ‘Route du Vin’, the Loire Wine Road. With approximately 7,000 vineyards tending over 70,000 hectares of vines, and with a heritage and beauty that can’t fail to win you over, visit the Loire Valley and be prepared to fall in love from the very first drop.
Located to the south east of Paris, Burgundy is a beautiful and peaceful region which is as closely connected to wine production as it is possible to be. Stretching 360 kilometres all the way down to Lyon, it’s made up of a patchwork of tiny vineyards in villages strung along a narrow valley. With its historical and cultural beauty this is a breath-taking place to visit, and with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grape varieties in abundance, this region definitely deserves its world- class reputation.
This wine region is so famous that it has a drink named after it. This pretty French wine region starts 140 kilometres from Paris, around the city of Meaux and stretches along the Marne river to the city of Epernay, to reach the area explore the cross channel ferry routes and then be prepared for around a two and a half hour drive. It’s worth the journey because Champagne is home to some exceptionally scenic countryside, world heritage sites, medieval chateaux and vineyards as far as the eye can see. Also expect regional food in abundance and a variety of accommodation choices, here you can learn about the art of champagne making while enjoying France in its true glory.
Arguably the most famous wine region in France, and also one of the most beautiful. The wine-producing area of Bordeaux can be found in the Aquitaine region of south west France and remains the centre of the fine wine world. It covers a huge area and is definitely one of the most popular wine regions, producing mostly red wine with an excellent reputation. Bordeaux is home to some of the world’s most revered vineyards, but it’s the exquisite city the region takes its name from that really cranks up the beauty factor several notches. The city of Bordeaux is officially a world heritage site filled with beautifully preserved classical and neo-classical architecture, much of which has remained unchanged for more than a couple of centuries.
If you want to combine a wine tasting trip with a good dose of sunshine, then Languedoc – the southernmost region of mainland France – may well be your ideal holiday destination. Known for the castles of Carcassonne, beautiful vistas and traditional agricultural scenes, the 700,000 acres of the Languedoc make up one of the world’s most productive and affordable wine regions. With gorgeous countryside, a good dose of Spanish architecture and wine festivals throughout the year, this is a wine lover’s must see destination.
The Rhône Valley
The Rhône Valley is the oldest established winemaking region in France, dating back almost 600 years. It’s divided into two wine growing regions – the northern part produces only 5% of the total wine production while the south accounts for a enormous 95%. The Rhône Valley is famous for wines such as the vibrant reds of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and here you’ll find vineyards along the river but also up in the mountains, on steep slopes, and on the plains in the Rhone delta. For the wine tourist, there are over 200 km of Rhône Valley to discover, including a handful of medieval chateaux and the beautiful walled city of Avignon.
Bergerac is an historic wine region in the south-west of France, which takes its name from the market town at its centre. With its half-timbered houses and the very charming banks of the Dordogne River, Bergerac, the capital of Purple Périgord, is well worth a visit. Also home to stunning chateaux, pretty villages a sprawling rich countryside, it provides the perfect backdrop to a place that brings you both dry and sweet white wines as well as reds and rosé. With a wealth of local food produce to accompany your wine tasting, Bergerac also makes an excellent gastronomic destination.
If you are particularly partial to a rosé, then a trip to Provence may just turn out to be your favourite holiday destination. Indeed, this beautiful French wine region is responsible for approximately 8% of the worlds rosé production and the name conjures up images of charming hilltop villages, terraced vineyards, rocky hillsides, lavender meadows and alfresco cafés. With its idyllic scenery that sums up that stereotypical image of French life and plenty of sunshine you can experience a true sense of ‘joie de vivre’.
Corsica may not be the most obvious French wine tourist destination, but they have been making the stuff for around 2500 years. This picturesque island located off the South of France is a true fusion of its French and Italian influences with a gastronomy and culture to match. Expect outstanding beaches, Mediterranean sunshine, excellent food and truly beautiful scenery. You’ll also have the chance to taste wines that often don’t make it away from the island, meaning you might just discover a few wine treasures yourself.
Languedoc-Roussillon is a sprawling and diverse wine region in the south of France, covering an area that stretches from Montpellier in the east all the way to the Spanish border. The region is French in character, but the influences of the Spanish and Catalan culture are clear. It’s also fast establishing itself as a place to discover great tasting wine but without the designer price tag to match. Here, they aren’t afraid to mix their grapes, producing flavours unique to the region. This is a great place to camp, giving you the option to experience wine tourism on a cheaper budget. Open air cooking, a warm climate and a glass of Picpoul de Pinet are the perfect ingredients for a memorable trip.