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The most Beautiful Wine Villages in France

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We all know that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, a special feeling that pleases the aesthetic senses far beyond what the eye can capture. True beauty often reveals itself over time, organically, on its own schedule, through the heart.

At first glance, there are many magnificent wine villages throughout the countryside, but it is your subjective interpretation of its fascinating architecture, heritage and culture that makes it memorable. A village that exudes a quiet confidence is often a working town serving the beverage industry. There are 12 major wine regions, each known for exclusive brands and global distribution. You may find it helpful to schedule a day trip from Paris if you would like to discover which landscape you find the most appealing to tip your glass. Here are just a few you should put on your travel list.

the most beautiful wine villages in france

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Riquewihr

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Outside of the two manufacturing cities of Strasbourg and Mulhouse, lies the scenic Alsace Route du Vin. At the southern end of the route, you'll find the fairytale-esque city of Riquewihr that will captivate the gourmet cuisine with a German influence of rotisserie meats, sausages, and wood-fired dishes.

St. Emilion

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In the South, along with the Burgundy and Champagne region - Bordeaux, Aquitaine is one of the three most recognized fermented beverage-producing appellations. St. Emilion, an UNESCO world heritage site with churches dating back to the 12th century, boasts medieval architecture of hillside chateaux and castles.  Backpack to St. Emilion and explore the underground catacombs and Roman ruins, then kick back after hiking through the cobblestone streets and sample the Merlot with cheeses.

Chablis

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The Burgundy Trail winds through vineyards on the hillside, within an easy drive from Dijon or Paris to Chablis. Here you’ll find grand cru vineyards and the Chardonnay grape. This small town caters to tourists with tasty local specialties: Burgundy snails, Epoisses cheese, poached eggs, and beef Bourguignon. Foodies will be happy to add this stop to their itinerary. You'll enter the town center through the Porte de Noel and see ornate doors and window openings lining the streets along the Serein River. 

Sancerre

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Tucked within the picturesque landscape of castles and masterful gardens are the vineyards of Sancerre overlooking the Loire River. This ancient hillside town is part of the Loire Valley and best known for its sauvignon blanc. In addition to its historical sauvignon blanc, it is home to newer vignerons producing organic varieties. Be sure to climb the Tours des Fiefs located in the Sancerre Park. It was a stonghold of the Middle Ages belonging to the Count of Sancerre. You would be rewarded with a 360-degree view of the vineyards.

For more information, please refer to the following pages:

FAQ

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  1. Where does the best French wine come from?

With so many different wine regions and wineries, choosing where the best French wine comes from ultimately depends on your preferences and your definition of “best.” Many consider Bordeaux to be the best French wine region because its wines are high-end, expensive, and quite popular. Bordeaux wines are typically rich red wines like Cabernet Sauvignons and Merlots. Although Bordeaux wines are high-quality and world-renowned, others argue that the best French wine comes from the Champagne region—the only place in the world where true champagne can be produced. Burgundy is another popular French wine region, and many argue that it produces the best wines due to its rich winemaking tradition and the wide variety of grapes that can be grown there. Ultimately, choosing which French wine region is best can be a difficult task, so you should visit and sample wines from each region before deciding where you think the best French wine comes from.

  1. Which are the nicest wine villages in Rhone Valley?

Located in the southeast corner of France, the Rhone Valley offers excellent wine tasting along the southern edge of the French Alps. In the Rhone Valley, you’ll find plenty of charming wineries and wine villages, so choosing among them can be difficult. However, no trip to the Rhone Valley is complete without visiting the region’s quaint wine villages, such as Châteauneuf-du-Pape, Gigondas, and Sainte Cécile les Vignes.

Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a historic hillside village located in the Southern Rhone Valley. This small village is known for its red wine, and in the throughout the village, you can visit a handful of excellent fine wineries, including the Anselme winery and museum. Additionally, Châteauneuf-du-Pape served as the Pope’s summer home during the Middle Ages, and you can visit a number of historical sites throughout the village.

Gigondas is another scenic wine village that sits at the base of the Dentelles de Montmirail, a small mountain range in Provence. Gigondas produces primarily red wine at wineries and vineyards such as Maison Gabriel Meffre, and since the village sits at the base of the mountains, you’ll find plenty of hiking trails around the village as well.

If you wish to travel a bit further north, head to Sainte Cécile les Vignes. This small tourist village in the middle of Provence sits along the Aygues river, making it an ideal location for wine cultivation. Numerous vineyards surround the village, including the Domaine de La Présidente estate, and you can bike through vineyards and scenic countryside along the Aygue-Ouvèze bike route.

  1. Which are the most beautiful wine villages in Burgundy?

Burgundy is one of France’s best-known wine regions thanks to its popular and exclusive wines, such as pinot noir and chardonnay. In fact, some of the finest wines in the world come from this region, so when you visit, you should do your best to visit the best and most beautiful wine villages in Burgundy. To visit a historic medieval village, head to Noyers-Sur-Serein - a portal back in time along the Yonne wine trail. You can visit more UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Vézelay, which is home to both historic basilicas and some of the best local wines in France. This village is also one of the larger wine villages in Burgundy, so it’s easy to find plenty of great restaurants and hotels here. Next, Beaune is the capital of Bourgogne wines, and it is also home to the Notre-Dame Basilica and a Museum of Fine Arts, making it a must-see wine village in Burgundy. Finally, Châteauneuf-en-Auxois is considered one of the most beautiful wine villages in all of France - complete with a medieval castle.

  1. Which are the most beautiful villages on the Alsace wine route?

The Alsace Wine Route - the oldest wine route in France - is a must-see for all wine lovers who tour France, but where are the best places to stop along the route? You should begin with Marlenheim, which is called the “door” of the Alsace wine route, where you can visit family wineries like Pfister and Dischler. Next, you can go to Bergheim, which features fine wines and plenty of 14th Century Gothic architecture, and then you can go to Ribeauville - a brightly-colored village that features plenty of historic architecture. Then, Riquewihr is considered one of the most beautiful wine villages along the Alsace Wine Route, surrounded by vineyards and ramparts, Kaysersberg is considered the most beautiful wine village in France; in fact, this village was one of the first wine-growing villages in all of France. Finally, if you enjoy the outdoors, head to Pfaffenheim, where you can take a bicycling tour of the surrounding vineyards.

  1. Which are the best wine villages in Bordeaux region?

The Bordeaux wine region is the largest wine region in France, so choosing where to visit can be a daunting task. One of the best wine villages in Bordeaux is Saint-Émilion. This hilltop village has plenty of local wines as well as a wine school along with plenty of excellent shops and restaurants, and it is also considered to be one of the most beautiful wine villages in France. Other excellent wine villages can be found along the famous Medoc wine route. Vertheuil is perhaps the most stunning village along this route, featuring exquisite wineries and historical sites from the 11th and 12th Centuries. Other notable wine villages along this route include Saint Vivien de Medoc, which lies along the Atlantic coast, and Saint-Estèphe. If you’re looking to experience a traditional French village, head to Bages. This village has retained its original character and is an ideal place to explore classic French architecture.

  1. Which are the most famous wine villages in Pays de Loire region?

Pays de Loire is a region in France’s famous Loire Valley that is best known for its Muscadet and Sauvignon wines, and it is home to many quaint wine villages that produce some of the world’s best wines. Pouilly-sur-Loire sits on the Loire River surrounded by rolling hills, and it is best known for its exquisite Sauvignon Blancs. It also has many historical sites, including an ancient Medieval fortress. Chinon is another historic Loire wine village that is home to an impressive castle as well as some of the finest Cabernet France wine in the world. If you wish to venture further inland, head to Fontevraud - a hillside village situated near some of the Loire’s best vineyards that is also home to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, L’Abbaye Royale de Fontevraud. Finally, Candes-Saint-Martin is another well-known wine village in the Loire that sits on the confluence of the Loire and Vienna Rivers. Like other Loire villages, visitors can enjoy both wine and history in this picturesque village.

  1. What are the best wine routes in France?

France’s wine country is extensive, so planning a trip there can be overwhelming for people who have never visited before. Therefore, many people plan their trips along wine routes that travel through some of the best wine villages that France has to offer. Fans of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir should try the Burgundy Wine Route, which runs through villages like Chablis, Pommard, and Macon. This 220km-long wine region extends through a variety of terriors, making it a very diverse wine route. Those who wish to visit the expansive Loire Valley can follow the Loire Wine Route that runs along its namesake river. However, this trail is fairly long, so visitors often complete it in pieces. Finally, for a stunning route through the mountains and along the coast, you can follow the Languedoc-Roussillon wine trail. This trail is particularly appealing since it features two UNESCO World Heritage Sites – Nimes and Pont du Gard.

  1. What are the best wine villages in Champagne?

Known best for its namesake wine, the Champagne region in Northeastern France is home to delicious sparkling wine as well as many picturesque wine villages. All sparkling wine lovers should make the trip to Hautvillers – the small commune where Champagne was first produced. This historic village once housed the Abbey of St. Peter, where a monk named Dom Perignon was credited with creating the first batch of bubbly. Verzenay is another excellent village to visit if you enjoy a good glass of champagne, and given its close location to Reims, it’s an ideal place to visit if you choose to book a hotel in the city. This village is literally surrounded by vineyards, and its town center is filled with plenty of historical sites, including centuries-old churches and a wine museum. If you’d like a break from bubbly, Cramant is another scenic village in the Cote des Blancs area of the region, and it primarily produces Chardonnay.

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And they do not have to do with what you will find in those markets. They have to do with when you can go shopping there. Open Air markets are only open in the morning. Typically from 8:30 am to 1:30 pm. And they are not open every day. As a matter of fact for the vast majority they are open either open every other day (Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday or Wednesday, Friday, Sunday), or sometimes only twice a week. 

This is the case of the Bastille Market (Metro Bastille and Metro Bréguet Sabin )which is open only on Thursday and Sunday morning. We like to send people there because it is a very big market with over one hundred vendors. And it has a nice stand of Crêperie in the middle. Here you get a video of a lady preparing a crêpe there; and you can get that crêpe for only 3 Euros!
There is only one Open Air market open every day of the week, it is called Marché Aligre (Metro Ledru Rollin or Metro Faidherbe Chaligny) which happens on the eponymous street. It is an interesting market because you find all kinds of quality in that market – the good, the bad and the ugly. There is also a nice covered market in the middle of it called Marché Beauveau – sometimes called Marché Beauveau Aligre. On the contrary, Covered Markets are open every day, and not just in the morning, but also in the late afternoon. Typically from 4:30 pm to 8:00 pm.

We are blessed with two markets close to where Le Foodist is located, so we can walk to a market every morning – sometimes it is the Maubert market, and sometimes it is the Monge market. Both nice with their own specififies. Last but not least, none of these markets is open on Monday. Do not sign-up for a Market Tour on Monday, you might never see that money again …

Choosing Ingredients in Paris

While all markets are different, they also have some things in common. First they work on specific schedules as explained before. But also you will find always at a minimum the following vendors: a Maraîcher – this is the name we give to people selling fruits and vegetables, a butcher, a fishmonger, a cheesemonger and a baker. Normally you will find several of each, with different levels of quality, organic or non-organic, local or not local (but mostly not local unfortunately).
And we explain how to recognize each of those of course during our Market Visits and Cooking Classes in Paris. But choosing ingredients can be daunting at first, because of the variety that is on display. A typical fishmonger will carry 20 different types of fishes, and as many shrimp and shelf fish varieties. A good cheese monger will easily carry up to 100 different types of cheese and obviously you could get over 100 different cuts of meat at a butcher (from the type of meat to the cut itself). And a normal Maraicher will carry between 50 and 100 fruits and vegetables as well.
This is what makes these markets so exciting – the variety of products, the beauty of their display, and the exchange you can have with most of the vendors. We give you tips though on how to make sure that exchange with the vendors go well – a few magic words, and everything will be fine!

Cooking in Paris

Obviously going to markets is nice, but actually knowing that you are going to cook what you find there is even more exciting. It is not uncommon for Parisians to buy a little bit too much food because they get so excited at the idea of cooking it all! But as most of us have hardly any space where we live, that can limit the enthusiasm sometimes. Because of the lack of space, Cooking in Paris can be quite different from cooking in the rest of France. And there are also dishes that are typically associated with regions which the Parisian will not cook at home – but taste when they visit friends or families in the various regions of France. However our kitchen has plenty of space, so we can cook traditional French dishes without a problem – whether they come from Paris or any region. And the most important part for us is to ensure that we share techniques much more than just recipes. As a matter of fact, we love to share a bit of the science behind what we do so people can better remember the “what” by understanding the “why”.

Sharing Stories

In November 2010, some experts from the UN cultural organisation, decided tha France’s multi-course gastronomic meal, with its rites and its presentation, fulfilled the conditions for featuring on the “world intangible list” of the UNESCO.
In this list you can find all kinds of cultural practices, including Mexico Day of the Dead festival for example. Importantly this is not suggesting French cuisine is better than other cuisines (even though we the French tend to believe that …). It is only saying that the gastronomic meal and what it entails is a very vivid cultural practice which people in France partake into on a very regular basis. That is why the same experts indicated that the French gastronomic meal is a “social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups”. And in that social custom, there are many parts: the attention we pay to the way we choose ingredients, how we pair wine with food, how many dishes we will present to our guests, how we lay the table, etc… But one big part of the cultural practice is that commensality (the fact of sharing the food) is always accompanied by sharing stories about …. Well, you would have guessed it, Food of course!
To us it is THE perfect example of how Food and Culture come together – actually we decide to share food is a considered a cultural practice. I would argue that it is true of all countries, regions, etc… As the way we relate to Food is such a big part of anybody’s identity. But as a result and to make sure you have the most genuine experience of French culture, after the a coking class in Paris at Le Foodist, you will share a gastronomic meal at a common table with your Chef and fellow participants to the class.

French Wine and Food Pairing

As mentioned above, one of the big cultural practices in France is choosing how to pair Wine and Food in general and Wine and Cheese in particular. We actually have a class which focuses specifically on this. As it is so important though, we always make sure we share white and red wines during our meals, chosen to pair well in our opinion with the food we cook. And being at the table together is a good opportunity to discuss about wine as well, with concepts such as “terroir” (to simplify, terroir means “what you do depends on where you are”) which are essential to grasp the way the French think about Food.
And all this will always go with a cheering “Santé” – which quite simply means, to your good health!

More About Our Baguettes Classes

Getting a bit technical during our Baguette Class in Paris

The French baguette, actually probably better known as the Parisian baguette has beome a true symbol of French popular gastronomy. A true icon of French life even - look around and you will see the Parisians strolling back home with their baguettes under their arm. But if you are French why would you learn how to do this? You can buy a baguette at any corner of Paris for about one Euro a piece.  But in our Baguette Class in Paris  you will learn how do this from scratch. It is somewhat technical, but also full of tips and tricks. But when you leave, it will have not secret left for you. From the original mix to the famous "scarification" through adding water to your oven through baking, you will see and do it all.

Learning more during your Baguette class in Paris: Croque Monsieur Bread and Brioche

This class is like all our other baking or cooking classes: totally hands-on. So you get to practice from beginning to end - and to taste at the end. But not only will you learn how to make Baguette, but you will also learn to make two more types of bread: the French Croque Monsieur bread. The basis for the classic French bistrot appetizer. And in your Baguette class in Paris you will also learn how to make your own Brioche. Probably the most indulgent bread you will find in France - if not the lightest ...

And you might learn some history during your Baguette Class in Paris

While you will learn the techniques to create - and get to taste - three classic types of French breads, you will also learn some of the stories on the origin of the baguette. Just beware it is still being quite hotly debated. What is for sure though is that the Baguette is absolutely part of today Parisian's life. A classic you will be able to take back home with you.

More About Our Wine and Cheese Lunch in Paris

Cheese and Wine in Paris

The pleasures we can derive from French cuisine can seem endless.  However two of the best known and loved French gastronomic heroes are French cheese and wine. Whether we talk about a Brie which actually comes from very close to Paris, to a creamy Camembert from Normandy, or a Comté from the Alps, French cheese has a delight for all palates. And of course, French wines are even better known whether from Bordeaux great wines or Burgundy sophisticated whites – all of which enthral wine lovers.  Well, at our course on cheese and wine in Paris you will come to appreciate that although each is delicious on its own, properly matched cheese and wine together can make the experience of each even more enjoyable and an absolute delight.

How to pair French cheese and wine

Because not all pairings are actually what people expect, at Le Foodist we have decided to call these experiences 'Daring Pairings'. Maybe because we like to step out of the ordinary to challenge our taste buds, but really all we try to do is give you the perfect match fo cheese and wine in Paris.  So not only will you learn how to select the best wine to go with your cheese, but you will also learn what are the big cheese families in France – there are actually only five, and this is one of the keys to great pairing. In discovering all these pairings of cheese with wine you will be convinced that indeed two things together can be better than the sum of their parts.

It is important to have fun with pairing cheese and wine in Paris

Beyond the tastings though, we have found that the best way to help our clients remember and re-use their experience is to vary the way to approach both wine and cheese.  That is why during our courses on cheese and wine in Paris we share sensory games and many an anecdote to bring the produce to life in your mind as well as on your palate. Overall we will feature four excellent wines, one Champagne and demonstrate to you how best each combines with cheese, letting your taste guide you along with our teaching.

Understanding cheese and wine pairing while in Paris

While for many top Parisian wine stores and restaurant wine lists can be confusing and even intimidating, we believe that after our lunch learning how to pair cheese and wine in Paris, you will feel much more comfortable navigating all of those.  And we sincerely hope your knowledge will help you unlock a door to a whole new world of enjoyment of French wine and cheese pairing.  At every step of the way our sommelier will also share unique tips and tricks to understand wines better and how culture and wine are so related in France; hopefully enriching your own experience as well.

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