Wine is to France what real ale is to Britain. The French are well-known for their classy customs and world-class vineyards. Head to any store on the planet, and you’ll likely find a selection of bottles sourced from the French.
But while France has long enjoyed an enviable reputation for its wine, it hasn’t typically promoted the tourism side of it.
Figures show that in 2016, ‘wine tourism’ attracted about 10 million tourists. In 2009, that figure was just 7.5 million. So, what’s all the fuss about? Find out by reading our top picks of the best places for wine tasting in France.
Cité du Vin, Bordeaux
Promoting the tourist appeal of wine is no easy feat. Sure, most of us enjoy a relaxing glass or two in the evening, but many people would rather just drink their wine than find out how it’s made.
The Cité du Vin in Bordeaux has changed that.
This museum has made learning about the production of wine genuinely fun. Here, you can explore six floors of exhibitions that showcase wine production, art, culture, agriculture and more. There’s also an undeniably cool hologram display that explains the production of wine through the ages.
With plenty of tasting sessions, unique exhibitions and a panoramic restaurant, we believe 20 euros is a small price to pay to visit the Cité du Vin.
Hameau du Vin, Romanèche-Thorins, Beaujolais
The Hameau du Vin offers another wine-tasting experience with a twist. Essentially a wine theme park, the Hameau du Vin attracts young wine lovers and connoisseurs alike with 3D cinema viewings, theatrics, actors and beautiful gardens. As an added bonus, you can play crazy golf and ride a mini train around the gardens while you’re here.
The focus of this museum is the Beaujolais wine. If you want to learn about more than 2,000 years of Beaujolais history, the Hameau du Vin is the place to go.
Zellenberg, Colmar, Alsace
Wine-themed museums are all good and well. But for some people, nothing beats meandering through a vineyard in a beautiful region.
At the base of the Rhine Plain and Vosges mountains, the famous Alsace wine trail takes you by quaint villages, castle-topped hills and – of course – plenty of vineyards. We recommend heading to the Becker vineyard, where you can taste seven world-class wines, enjoy a picnic and take a cookery class. Guided vineyard tours are available throughout the summer.
Provence is currently one of the most underrated wine regions in France but is steadily growing in notoriety. The city of Avignon is truly the gateway to the area, offering access to the 9 main growing regions that make up Provence. You’ll find a surprising range of terrior here, with white wines, red wines and rosés represented in abundance.
Highlights of the region include Château de Berne, which is less of a vineyard and more of a mini wine kingdom. There are around 290 acres of vineyards and 1,500 acres of forest for you to explore, either with a guide or solo (we advise cycling the grounds if you’re going it alone).
There are a thousand reasons to visit the French Riviera. Whilst not all of them come in a bottle, the wine culture of this unique French wine region is absolutely one of its biggest draws. Travelling from Marseille to Monaco, you'll encounter some of the best vineyards in the world. However, pretty much all of their produce will eventually converge on the city of Nice.
Exploring the rustic, authentic wine bars of this coastal town is an Oenologist’s dream. Each has its own distinctive flavour as well as that authentic Riviera feel that’s impossible to imitate. You’ll also find several organic wine tasting experiences hosted in the city that will take you out across the countryside for visits to nearby farms. If you’re looking to combine a coastal city break with great wine tasting experiences, think Nice.
How could we talk about the wine regions of France without giving Champagne a mention? As you might expect, guided wine tours here are on the pricey side – but bubbly is for special occasions after all. Spend over £2,000, and you can embark on a three-day tour that takes you to the cellars of Champagne and the neighbouring wine regions of Alsace and Burgundy.
If you’re hoping to explore the very best of European beverages, check out our Europe-wide Coach Travel Network as a way for you to get around the continent (without having to drive yourself!).