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Which Wine Regions should you visit in France

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Wine is produced throughout the country of France, but there are some major regions you shouldn't miss. Each is known for its ambiance and charm as well as its exclusive brands with global distribution. The French have been producing wine for over two thousand years and consider it serious business. Their entire culture incorporates their artisan approach to viticulture and its delicious accompaniment of cheese varieties.

Much like their contribution to the culinary arts, they have created a classification system that is one of the oldest systems for certification of origin, winemaking processes, and production. The Institut National des Appellations d'Origine – INAO, regulates the producing areas by defining the character of the wine it crafts. While there are thousands of wine producing villages, they fall into specific areas with established microclimates and terrain producing consistent taste and quality. Here are some of them to explore if you are considering getting out of the city for wine region day trips from Paris.

which wine regions to visit in france

Alsace

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Bordering Germany, lies the scenic Alsace Route. The popular villages of Turckheim and Kaysersberg are famous for their Sylvaners, Rieslings and Gewurztraminer white wines. Alsace is home to some of the official most beautiful villages in France including Riquewihr and Eguisheim. This storybook landscape is great for tours with kids.

Bordeaux

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One of the three most famous wine-producing appellations. It’s villages boast 118th-century architecture with hillside chateaux, medieval castles, fishing villages, and seaside resorts. It's worth the trip to see the city of Bordeaux and Saint-Emilion village - there are few areas that can compare. Without exception, this should be on your travel itinerary.

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Burgundy

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The Burgundy Trail winds through the grape vines and wineries. Here you’ll find grand cru and the Chardonnay grape used for the classic Chablis. For organic and raw food lovers, have the Burgundy signature specialty of Coq au Vin made with the free-range chickens of Bresse.

Beaujolais

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South of the Burgundy region is an area best known for its famous Beaujolais, a light red. The village of Beaujeu is a must stop on your tour. Yearly, launch parties on the third Thursday of November celebrates the new crop of Beaujolais Nouveau. Wineries, vineyard tours, wine tasting, and cheese shops are par for the course in this very popular region of France.

Champagne

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An internationally famous region east of the city of Paris. It has climate and soil conditions that are ripe for success. Red Pinot noir grapes are blended with white Chardonnay grapes to make every memorable bottle of this celebratory sparkling wine, a process that takes years. Add this one to your gourmet walking tours. Get a professional travel guide to help you retrace the steps of Dom Perignon at the Abbey d’Hautvillers. Visit the Champagne capital, Epernay, and take a cellar tour. Immerse yourself in the history of bubbly in Reins, Troyes, Charleville, and Sedan.

Cotes du Rhône

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Recognized by the AOC since 1937, this earthy, dusty region runs along the Rhône River, producing Syrah, Cinsault, Carignan, Mourvèdre, and Grenache varieties. Over 95 villages can be found in this region, but only 18 are permitted to put their name on the label. Among those villages, 4 are in the Gard, 4 in the Drome, and 10 are in the Vaucluse. The village of Laudun has been the home to vineyards for over 2,000 years. While exploring, take the path “the vine of the senses” which travels through the stages of tasting. And, “the vineyard of time” an overview of the farming and production practices in this region.

Jura

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Known as the most obscure, it is located between Burgundy and Switzerland. Jura’s wine is “unusual, distinctive, completely different” from anywhere else, with grape varieties of Chardonnay, Savagnin, Pinot noir, Poulsard, Trousseau. It’s challenging climate and late harvest lend to a surprisingly spicy, nutty, and earthy flavor crafted with a unique aging style. Vin Jaune is Jura’s most famous wine. Travel to Jura is only 2 hours on the fast train.

Languedoc

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Innovative and experimental growers in Languedoc overcome what it lacks in prestige with character and personality. With over 500,000 acres of land, it is the largest growing area encompassing both the climate of the Mediterranean and the inland mountains. Grape varieties include Carignan and Grenache. Enjoy a tasting with charcuterie by the sea.

Loire Valley

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An abundance of Chenin Blanc and Sauvignon Blanc, two white grapes that have made the Loire Valley the second largest sparkling beverage producer in France, after Champagne. With 23 subregions, the villages of Sancerre and Pouilly-sur-Loire (where Pouilly-Fumé is made) sit on opposite sides of the Loire River. They enjoy a temperate climate and a soil rich in acidity. The finished product flourishes with a fresh, crisp flavor, a tradition dating back to the Romans. You’ll also find architecture reflective of the Middle Ages, when they first produced Sancerre, a popular blend of white, enjoyed around the world.

Medoc

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Also in the Bordeaux region, on the left bank of the Gironde estuary, lies the Medoc. It houses a number of premier appellations with only 14,000 acres of vines that grow and harvest top-shelf Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon varieties. From Grand Cru and Premium Cru, Medoc produces 5 1ers crus, 14 2ème crus, 14 3ème crus, 10 4ème crus, and at least 18 5ème crus. The crafted wines of Medoc are well respected by wealthy connoisseurs around the world. A trip to Medoc will be rewarding.

Provence

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On the edge of the Cotes du Rhône AOC is Provence, an appellation that has nine registered sub-regions with many villages and working communes. Located near the Mediterranean coast, the full-bodied red wines of Bandol have been celebrated since the Middle Ages, often paired with chocolate. Cotes-de-Provence is the financial center of this AOC, offering competitively priced rosé for its thirsty tourists.

For more information, please refer to the following pages:

FAQ

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  1. What is the closest wine region to Paris?

Although the majority of French wine regions are located far south of Paris, the Champagne region in the northeast is only 200 km away from the city. In fact, Paris has a direct train line to Champagne that takes just 45 minutes, so you do not even need to worry about renting a car. The Champagne region is tucked away in the hills in France’s northeast, making it a scenic wine tasting getaway, and its best-known wine villages are Reims and Epernay. This region is best known for its namesake wine, Champagne, and in the region, you can find famous Champagne wineries such as Moet & Chandon and Tattinger. Many larger wineries, however, do not always offer public tastings, so be sure to check out each winery’s website to ensure that you’ll be able to get in. You can also find plenty of smaller wineries that don’t carry the price tag of major brands, so be sure to do your research before booking a tasting.

  1. Which region is the largest French white wine region?

Although most wine regions in France produce some white wine, the Loire Valley is considered the best and largest white wine region in France. Located south of Paris in northwest France, the Loire Valley is considered one of the most scenic wine regions in the world, and its rich winemaking history led UNESCO to deem parts of the region to its list of World Heritage sites. The Loire Valley is also quite large, spanning over 280 kilometers, so to fully explore the region, you will need to spend multiple days there. In fact, due to its massive size, the Loire Valley is often divided into three regions—Upper, Middle, and Lower. The Upper Loire is known for its Sauvignon Blancs while the Middle and Lower Loire are known for their excellent regional blends. Because the Loire Valley is so expansive and inundated with wineries, we recommend that first-time visitors take a guided tour to get the most out of their stay in the Loire Valley.

  1. How far is Rhone Valley from Paris?

Although you can taste a plethora of delicious wines in Paris, you will need to travel quite far to actually go to the various wine regions in France. For instance, the Rhone Valley, which is famous for its stunning scenery and huge variety of wines produced, is all the way in southern France, roughly 555 kilometers from Paris. To get to the Rhone Valley, then, you will need to travel quite far. If you choose to drive, you will need to be prepared to make a 5-hour cross-country trek into the valley, and if you prefer to not be behind the wheel, you can take a bus to Lyon that takes just as long. If you wish to expedite your arrival, you can opt to take the train into Lyon. While this option can be a bit more expensive than the bus or driving, you will arrive in Lyon in just over two hours.

  1. What are the wine regions of Bordeaux?

The Bordeaux wine region is one of the most famous wine-growing areas in the world thanks to its delicious high-end wines. This famous wine region surrounds the delta of the Gironde River, which feeds into the Atlantic Ocean, and this river delta provides the fertile soil necessary for wine cultivation. Because this wine region is so expansive, it is divided into a series of regions and sub-regions based on their location relative to the Gironde River. First, the Left Bank region includes sub-regions such as Medoc and Graves, which are known for their red wines. Next, the Right Bank is primarily comprised of the Libournais sub-region, which often grows Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignons as well as other reds. The Bourg and Blaye sub-region is also a part of the Right Bank. Finally, the third main region of Bordeaux is Entre-Deux-Mers, which is the only Bordeaux region that primarily specializes in white wines.

  1. Is Burgundy wine region worth visiting?

If you’re a fan of rich history, exquisite wines, delicious food, and stunning scenery, then you should visit the Burgundy wine region in Eastern France. Wine production in Burgundy began during the Roman Empire, making Burgundy one of the oldest wine regions in the world. Many vineyards and wineries in Burgundy offer lessons on the history of winemaking in the region, and you can enjoy historical sites throughout the region’s quaint wine villages. Burgundian wine is also some of the finest in the world, and much of it is made in small batches. So, when you visit a winery in Burgundy, you will be able to taste wines that you will not be able to purchase elsewhere. Burgundy is also home to some of the best traditional French foods and dishes, including coq au vin and Dijon mustard. Finally, Burgundy sits in a stunning river valley with mountains to the east, making for stunning views as you sip a glass of fine pinot noir.

  1. Where to go to visit sparkling wine regions in France?

If you wish to taste sparkling wine in France, then your stop on your journey should be Champagne. Located in the northeast corner of France, this region’s namesake wine is known for its light, bubbly profile, and in this region, you can visit famous producers like Perrier-Jouët and taste some of the finest Champagnes in the world. However, while you can only find proper Champagne in this region, you can find plenty of delicious sparkling wines in other French wine regions. In Burgundy, head southwest of Dijon to Crémant de Bourgogne to taste the region’s best sparkling white and rose wines. Crémant du Jura in the Jura wine region also features delicious sparkling rose wines along with stunning views of the Alpine foothills. Sparkling wine aficionados can also find plenty of bubbly in the Loire Valley. In Vouvray, a small wine village on the banks of the Loire, visitors can enjoy sparkling Chenin Blanc wines, which have uniquely floral aromas and distinct tastes.

  1. Where can you find the best red wine in France?

Most of France’s diverse wine regions produce delicious red wines, but where do the best red wines in France come from? In general, wine afficionados tend to give one of two answers – Bordeaux or Burgundy. The Bordeaux region is the birthplace of Cabernet Sauvignon – a classic French red wine. Some of the finest Cabernet Sauvignons in the world hail from this region, and it also produces excellent Merlots and Red Blends, such as Medoc. Bordeaux is thus well-known for its wide variety of reds as well as their quality. On the other hand, Burgundy is best known for its Pinot Noir – a notoriously difficult wine to produce. Because Pinot Noir grapes require specific environmental conditions to thrive, Burgundy is one of the few places in France where this wine thrives. However, while Burgundy red wine is often high-quality, it is more difficult to find and more expensive than other regions since this wine is so susceptible to environmental changes. Therefore, red wine lovers tend to favor Bordeaux due to its variety and large supply of red wines available.

  1. What are some tips for planning a trip through French wine country?

When you plan a trip through French wine country, you should keep the following tips in mind to ensure that your trip is successful:

First, you should carefully research the hotels that you plan to stay at as well as the drive times between your accommodations and tour bookings. One common mistake that people make is underestimating the time it takes to drive between cities in France, so you should plan well to ensure that you do not overextend yourself by driving too far each day. You should also strategically plan your trip to stay in cities where you can find quality and affordable accommodation.

Second, you should be sure to schedule all of your winery visits in advance, and you should only book 1–3 wine tours or tastings per day, depending on the size of the wineries you choose. You will get more out of your trip if you spend more time at fewer wineries.

Finally, you should have a plan in place to never drink and drive on your trip. Generally, you should hire a driver or designate one, or you can take group tours from larger towns that provide transportation.

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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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