The Road Less Traveled: Planning Your Next Wine Getaway in France

Now that people are traveling again, expeditions to some of the world’s leading wine regions are back on itineraries that had been on hold for a while.

Planning wine trips can be both exhilarating and exhausting, especially if the destination is France. Just as a European can’t say, “Let’s take a vacation to the United States,” Americans can’t simply say, “Let’s visit French wine country.”

In each case, one needs to zero in a bit more. After all, there are 50 states in the United States, and virtually all of France is “wine country.”

So, it’s necessary to narrow the scope of the travel adventure. This can be accomplished in any number of ways, from specific wine preferences to the type of scenery one prefers to ready access to modern conveniences and so on. Think about an American travel comparison: Are you more interested in visiting Disneyland or the Grand Canyon? Each offers its own experiences; it’s just a matter of what you’re looking for.

In France, even the Bordeaux appellation is too big to explore in its entirety if your time is somewhat limited. Instead, consider visiting just one area of Bordeaux, such as Saint-Emilion.

The town of Saint-Emilion can make a great home base for exploring the area’s chateaux. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site with medieval streets and buildings that are beautifully preserved. Some of its churches date back to the 1100s.

So if you’re one who would like to combine history, fantastic food and your favorite adult beverage in one location, Saint-Emilion is hard to beat.

Another French winemaking region worth exploring is Beaujolais, which stretches from Macon toward Lyon. You’ve probably heard of this area because, each third Thursday of November, it shares the newest batch of Beaujolais Nouveau with the rest of the world.

Made from the gregarious Grenache grape, Beaujolais Nouveau is a “harvest wine,” meant to be enjoyed in its youth, preferably with bountiful feasts (think: Thanksgiving). It’s fresh, fruitful and fun to drink.

The good news is that Beaujolais is not a single-variety region. There are many different types of wine to try at the chateaux, wine bars and restaurants.

And unlike so many French wine regions, Beaujolais typically is not overrun with tourists — which means you can soak in the scenery, sounds and flavors in relative peace.

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Posted in Our Wine Travel Log, Wine Region Profiles

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