How to Plan a France Wine Tour
When it comes to the fine art of making wine, France is in a category by itself. And for those who enjoy these magical wines, there is simply nothing like the sophistication of fine French cuisine to compliment them. When you can experience both the food and wine of France while enjoying the bright lights of Paris or relaxing in the stunning French countryside, a truly perfect vacation will be yours. To begin planning a trip you will always remember, visit the French government’s tourist web site at www.franceguide.com and you will be saying "Viva la France" in no time.
Traveling the Wine Roads of France
France is a large country, roughly the size of state of Texas and is the most visited country in the world with more than 75-million travelers arriving each year. To learn more about all of France’s wine regions check out www.frenchwinesfood.com.
Alsace Wine Tours
The Wine Road of Alsace runs north-south along the foothills of the Vosges Mountains for over 170 kilometers through scenic villages and rolling hills. From April through October there are a number of wine fairs and festivals. For more information on tour routes, winemaking and the unique cuisine of the area visit www.vinsalsace.com.
Bordeaux Wine Tours
With a choice of five major wine roads, a good place to start is with reviewing www.vins-bordeaux.fr/ and deciding on the right combination of sights, amenities and chateaus. You could spend months in Bordeaux and still not see it all. Although there are literally thousands of chateaus to choose from, be sure to make arrangements in advance for tours and reservations at better restaurants.
Burgundy Wine Tours
Compared to the big chateaus and faster pace of Bordeaux, Burgundy is much smaller, more rural and less tourist oriented. Some of the most exciting wines are made in tiny cellars with barely a sign let alone a tasting room loaded with trinkets. Appointments in advance are an absolute must. There are a number of excellent wine routes to drive or bike that can be explored at www.burgundytoday.com and the charming city of Beaune is a good central location for touring.
Champagne Wine Tours
The cities of Reims and Epernay are the heart of Champagne country, just a short train ride or drive from the city of Paris. The tourist information services in both towns have a guide called On the Roads of Champagne, with comprehensive information about tours, tastings and locales of the wineries (maisons) that receive visitors. This is a very tourist friendly region with a wide range of options for lodging and fine dining.
Languedoc-Roussillon Wine Tours
This very large wine region extends from the snow-capped Pyrenees Mountain to the sunny seaside along the Mediterranean. In between are medieval villages, rolling hills, the walled city of Carcassonne and the Canal du Midi where you can take a leisurely barge cruise or ride a bike path for miles. Larger towns will have a local tourist office to help navigate the wine roads but organized tour services may offer the best option for making appointments at specific wineries.
Provence Wine Tours
The French Riviera from Marseilles to Nice is a wide swath of country that is easy to navigate by car. The local seafood is an excellent match for the numerous rose wines of the area. From the ultra-chic resorts to the simple country towns, Provence is a relaxing mix of old and new, fashionable and traditional. Although Provence is extremely popular with tourists and can be very crowded there are plenty of quiet corners to soak up the sun, wander the open air markets and indulge in fine-dining. Vineyards and wineries are spread throughout the area. Making appointments in advance to visit wineries is customary. Local tourist offices can assist with itineraries and reservations.
Loire Valley Wine Tours
The Loire River is the longest in France, stretching some 630 miles (1013 kilometers) from the mountains of central France to the Brittany coast. From the airport in Paris via the high-speed TGV train, the Loire Valley is only a few hours journey. Main cities in the area include Orléans, Tours and Nantes and virtually every type of wine from sparkling to still, dry to sweet, red, white and rosé are produced here. As with most parts of France, appointments at wineries are needed. For more information visit the Loire Valley Wine Bureau at www.loirevalleywine.com.
Rhone Valley Wine Tours
Wine tourists will often find that combining a trip to Provence with the Rhone Valley is a good choice, due to their close proximity. The official site of the Rhone Valley at www.vins-rhone.com offers more than a dozen wine trail itineraries with links to specific wineries. The northern Rhone has spectacular hillside vineyards. Appointments to tour wineries, especially the highly acclaimed ones, are needed well in advance.
Organized France Wine Tours
With so many exciting, interesting wine regions to visit, a trip to France will likely require multiple stops and some combination of travel via plane, train and car. France has an excellent public transportation system but many of the vineyards and chateaus are best reached by car. When it comes to having a relaxing and safe visit, there is nothing better than leaving the driving to a professional. For those who are more athletic, touring France via bicycle is also very popular. Whether you have a month or only a day to tour wineries, there are thousands of tour services who can customize a visit for you. Perhaps you’d enjoy a classic sports car for a day visiting the Bordeaux chateaus? Maybe a private car and guide for a romantic day in Champagne country? Cruising the rivers, biking the back roads or hiking the hills are all available in combination with touring the magnificent wine country destinations of France.