France is one of the world’s top wine influencers, with the well-known French wine varieties of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah originating in France’s globally recognised wine regions.
And no matter what part of France you visit, you will undoubtedly be close to a vineyard. These wineries are in stunning locations around the countryside and range from historic estates to those with younger and smaller vines. French wineries have tasting rooms, restaurants, and even lodgings if you want to continue your wine experience for a little longer.
If you look at a map of the French wine regions, deciding where to explore first may not be easy. With this in mind, I have compiled this post highlighting eight of the top French wine regions to visit, helping give you a taste of what to expect in some of France’s best wine destinations.
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Information on French wine regions and their produce
Alsace is famous for Pinot Gris – Reisling – Gewürztraminer
Burgundy (Bourgogne) is famous for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir
Provence is famous for blends of Rosé
Bordeaux is famous for Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot blends
Languedoc – Rousillon is famous for Grenache and Carignan blends
Champagne is famous for sparkling wines
Savoie is famous for Jacquère, Roussette, Gringet, Chasselas, and Roussanne
Loire is famous for Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc and Muscadet
Other important regions in France where wine can be discovered include the Rhône Valley, Beaujolais, Sud-Ouest, and Corsica.
Best Destinations in France for Wine Lovers
Alsace Wine Region
Nestled on the border of France and Germany, the Alsace wine region produces some fantastic dry and fruity French white wines with a German influence. The picturesque Alsace wine route is a trail taking wine travellers through the most beautiful towns and villages in Eastern France.
The small Alsace town of Eguisheim is home to 33 wine producers, two of which hold the highly esteemed Grand Cru designation. These include the Pfersigberg and Eichberg wineries.
Although the Alsatian wine region is known for its Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, and Pinot Gris, the star of the show is Crémant d’Alsace. This sparkling wine is produced in both white and rosѐ versions and must not be missed.
Riquewihr is another Alsace town nestled among vineyards. Tasting the local wines is right on the main street. Riquewihr is on the Grand Crus Alsace wine trail and is an excellent location for a hike or bike ride if you are looking for a more active visit.
Consider a stay at Hotel KLE, a boutique hotel and spa where you can pamper yourself while enjoying the beauty of Kaysersberg and the brilliant wine culture of the town.
Burgundy (Bourgogne)Wine Region
On our visit to France, we stayed in Beaune, the wine capital of Burgundy, which is bursting with wine cellars where visitors can sample award-winning local wines, including the most popular red pinot noir and white chardonnay.
We visited a small family-run French wine cellar in Beaune called La Cave de l’Ange Gardien, run by its passionate owner, Pierre. We booked in to do a tutored tasting session focusing on appearance, aroma, structure (wine terminology – legs and tears!) and finish. Once we had taken wine notes and enjoyed tasting varietals from earthy to fruity, we continued with a blind tasting session where we had to decide which wines we were sampling – such good fun!
A tour from Beaune of 10 wines Grand Cru tasting day along the Burgundy Wine Route will appeal to wine enthusiasts. Book a tour so that you won’t miss out on sampling the wine varieties by having to drive yourself. The rolling French wine countryside is a beautiful setting for some of the best vineyards in the world.
Back in Beaune, there is plenty to see and do based on historical landmarks such as the Hospices de Beaune. But Beaune is famous for its gastronomic offerings, and with several Michelin restaurants in this tiny French town, you will undoubtedly enjoy fine food with your favourite French wines.
On my trip, I stayed in the Ibis Beaune Central for one night as part of my European road trip, it was comfortable but basic. If you are looking for something special then Abbaye de Maizieres is a boutique hotel in a former 12th-century Cistercian abbey.
Provence Wine Region
Contributed by Nadine from LeLongWeekend.com
Well known for its award-winning rosé wines, the delightful Provence wine region is also well regarded for its full-bodied reds and fruity whites. As a local to the area, some of my favourite wineries to visit around the oldest destination on the French wine region’s map offer more than just a tasting experience.
Château La Coste, north of Aix-en-Provence, is always somewhere we take guests, as there are several restaurants where we can grab lunch. The Terrace is excellent for casual alfresco dining). There is an interesting art & architecture walk to explore through this French vineyard. A little more intimate, the Château Bonisson wine estate in Rognes offers a free art gallery to discover before or after sampling their range of organic wines.
If heading to the seaside, Clos Ste Magdeleine makes a charming side visit in Cassis, and it’s the ideal place to try the dry white wines typical of this coastal wine-growing area. And if a picnic in the vines is what we’re craving, Chateau Gassier delivers it at the base of Mont Sainte Victoire.
Of course, there is so much more to discover along the Provence wine trail, such as the bucolic villages of the Luberon, the rich cultural towns, and the sublime beaches and national parks.
Where to Stay in the Aix-en-Provence Region
While I haven’t stayed there myself, I can suggest the lovely Les Lodges Sainte-Victoire & Spa. It is right in the heart of the Côtes de Provence AOC, close to Aix-en-Provence.
Book a special stay at the French wine Château de Fonscolombe, tucked away in the AOC Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence. The property has its own vineyard set in stunning grounds.
Don’t miss a typical Provençal market while in the area; they’re among the best in France and the ideal place to pick up other tasty treats to serve with a French wine! There are markets every day throughout most of the year, so ask your accommodation provider to direct you to the closest one.
Bordeaux Wine Region
Situated in France’s best-known area for wine tourism, Bordeaux is known as the wine capital of France. The city offers a significant number of activities to learn more about the local wines. Still, to properly understand it, I suggest visiting the Bordeaux region.
The Bordeaux region produces red wines from chateaux in the Medoc sub-region, Saint-Emilion, and Pomerol.
It’s easy to plan a day trip from Bordeaux to some of the countryside villages, and I decided to visit the charming village of St-Emilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This medieval village is renowned for being one of France’s most well-established and beautiful wine estates.
Apart from exploring the lovely narrow streets of the village, you can find a couple of wineries in the city centre. Still, if you’re happy to move around, you can reach some only one or two kilometres away from St-Emilion.
I visited a small family-owned chateau called Le Chatelet, nestled in a landscape of low vineyards and only 20 minutes from the French wine centre.
The estate has been classified as Grand Cru Classé since 2012, and the wine tasting was free. I tasted three wines they currently store in their wine cellar, from the youngest (2019) to the oldest (2008). The prestigious blend is 80% Merlot and 20% Cabernet Franc.
When staying or visiting St-Emilion for a day, I recommend trying the restaurant Chai Pascal, a cosy restaurant with cobbled stones on the walls and an impressive chandelier decoration made from vines. They always have a different dish of the day, and when I was there, I had a delicious Boeuf Bourguignon (beef stew braised in red wine).
Languedoc – Rousillon Wine Region
The Languedoc-Roussillon wine region is one of the most beautiful places to visit in the south of France, and we headed there after our stay in Provence.
The first time we visited this French wine region, we were surprised when we learned that this area was three times the size of the vineyards in Bordeaux. The Mediterranean climate in the south is great for French vineyards.
On our visit, we tried several traditional grape varieties, but this was the first time we had tasted both Mourvèdre and Viognier wines. It was ages before we ever found Viognier anywhere else.
For this return visit, we were staying in French wine country at the Chateaux de Paulignan, a short distance from Rieux Minervois. This small chateau had a small number of rooms, and it was a working French winery, so it was the perfect spot when we visited during the fall harvest season. The aroma of fermenting grapes was in the air, and we often saw ripe French wine grapes being moved for processing.
Behind the Scenes in Rieux Minervois
When we went into the small town of Rieux Minervois, we visited the local co-op “degustation”. The co-op shared equipment to make the wines, with bottled wines from the co-op group members available for sale in the small on-site wine shop. Large bins of grapes were delivered from several local vineyards, and we watched as the deliveries went through the process of removing the grapes from the plants.
We found lots to see and do in the Languedoc-Roussillon region when we were not engrossed in the fall wine processes. We stopped at the ancient Pont du Garde Roman aqueduct, and the nearby Canal du Midi was perfect for a walk along the canal or a trip through the small locks.
While in the area and for a taste of France’s history, pay a visit to the nearby medieval walled city of Carcassonne; you won’t want to miss it!
Champagne Wine Region
Champagne is easily one of the most famous and best wine regions in France. It has many unique places to visit, and several of the Champagne tours from Reims are perfect for exploring the area.
Reims is the unofficial capital of the Champagne region.
It is a great base because you can explore a vineyard right in the city before venturing out to others around the surrounding countryside.
One of the oldest Champagne houses in France is Champagne Lanson, which dates back to 1760. It is located in the city centre (you can walk there!) and a tasting is around $50 per person (or even less). This is a fantastic way to start learning about this famous French wine, and it will give you a foundation for the rest of your trip and some of the more world-famous brands you can visit.
Discover France’s Most Famous Champagne Houses
Another popular Champagne house to visit is Moët & Chandon, which needs no introduction these days. It remains one of the largest producers of Champagne and has a variety of different French wine types. It is an easy day trip from Reims as Moet and Chandon is located in Épernay, France.
In Épernay, you will also find the Avenue de Champagne, a famous street that is home to favourite French wine producers such as Moët et Chandon, Mercier, and De Castellane. It is inscribed on UNESCOʻs World Heritage List and is a great place to learn about French wine history.
While the Champagne region is all about a glass of bubbly, there is far more than meets the eye! In Reims, you can see Roman ruins at the Porte de Mars, visit the Palace of Tau and the Reims Cathedral, and enjoy some of the other delicious delicacies from Reims, including jambon de Reims, biscuits roses, and tasty Reims mustard.
France’s Champagne region is one of the best places to visit in the entire country and one of the best bucket list places in Europe. It is close enough to the capital to be visited on a day trip from Paris.
Savoie Wine Region
For a hidden gem wine destination in eastern France, opt for the Savoie, nestled in the mountain area on the border of Switzerland. This French wine region may be a lesser-known part of France, but it is no less delicious and beautiful than Burgundy or Bordeaux.
White wines from France reign supreme here, with many varietals, including Jacquère, Roussette, Gringet, Chasselas, and Roussanne. However, you will find some delicious red wines like Mondeuse, Persan, and perhaps a Gamay or Pinot Noir.
Hiking and Wine Tasting in the Savoie
The best thing you can do in Savoie is to take a hiking and wine tour to fully appreciate the beauty of France’s only alpine wine region and sip some wine in iconic vineyards. I booked my tour through Alpes Flaveurs, and it was incredible!
We began in the small town of Apremont, where it seems every home has a vineyard instead of a yard. We hiked to la Cascade du Pichut, a waterfall in the hills, before hiking to a vineyard where we sampled Jacquere, Chardonnay, and Rousette.
The views are breathtaking, with glaciers and mountains in the distance and smaller lakes and rows of vines in the foreground.
After that, we crossed this French wine valley and ended up in another charming vineyard with an old castle tower (called Tours de Chignin) in the middle of it, where we sampled Pinot Noir and Mondeuse.
We tried wines from Domaine Yves Girard-Madoux Vignoble de la Pierre and Maison Philippe Grisard.
The Alpine Town of Annecy
While you could stay in the surrounding towns like Chambery before going on this tour, we stayed in Annecy at the Atipik Hotel Alexandra during our time in the Alps. It was a great place to stay to explore the old town of Annecy for a day and take day trips!
Loire Valley Wine Region
Contributed by Ellie from Elonthemove.com
The famous French wine district of the Loire Valley is a must-visit for any wine lover. I visited in the summer and fell in love with this French wine region. The Loire Valley is centred around the Loire River, the longest river in France, making it seem like there are endless wineries to discover. The valley is split up into vineyard regions within itself, called vignobles. I stayed in the Anjou-Saumur vignobles.
It was lovely warm weather, so I camped at the Huttopia campsite overlooking the Loire Valley near Saumur. The town of Saumur is stunning, with architecture that makes you feel like you have stepped into a fairy tale. I took my tent and loved spending time in nature. The campsite also offers chalets if that’s more your thing.
The Anjou-Saumur produces a wide variety of wines, including reds, whites, roses and sparkling wine. The Loire produces some outstanding sparkling wine (petillant in French: pronounced petty-on).
Things to Do in the Loire Valley
I visited many wineries on my trip, including Bouvet Ladubay, Gretien, Meyer and Ackerman. The guided French wine tour of the Caves of Bouvet Ladubay was a highlight.
The Loire Valley is also a favourite wine region in France if you love Fairytale French Castles. There are so many sensational castles and chateaux to visit in one of the best wine regions in France.
After wine tasting in the Loire Valley, I tried a kayak down the Loire River to balance out my trip. It was the perfect activity to cool off on a summer’s day and appreciate the beautiful chateaux that overlook the Loire from a different perspective.
If you don’t like the thought of kayaking, you can hire bikes and cycle down the Loire to enjoy the view from dry land.
Has this post on the wine regions in France inspired you to book a visit? If it has, please leave me a comment.
If you are looking for more wine content on this site, you may like to read my post on South Africa’s Cape Winelands for even more travel inspiration. Or even 4 of the Best Waiheke Wineries To Visit from Auckland
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