A sure way to break up the museum monotony is to take a day trip to the wine regions. You may be able to coordinate this with the same provider of your food tour itinerary will be a lot of fun.
If you choose to travel with an organized professional tour, they are usually all-inclusive. You will not have to worry about making travel arrangements, choosing locations, purchasing a tasting, or busting the language barrier during your visit. They can last 1 - 3 days. Prices will vary, so be sure to check a review website to find a good guide providing a superb experience. Your day trip should include chats with the vintner and meals with expert pairing. Here are some locations that you will want to visit.
Also known as the Garden of France, the Loire Valley is a two-hour drive from Paris with easy access via high-speed rail, bus, and plane. With over 173,000 acres under vine, you’ll be under the influence of sparkling, white, rosé, red, and desserts. The main grape varieties include Chenin blanc, Sauvignon blanc, Cabernet franc, Melon de Bourgogne, Gamay, and Pinot noir. It’s always best to spend a few nights in any new place, Tours makes a great home base for your expeditions. In downtown Tours, just a short walk from the train station is the Office de Tourisme. Here you can inquire about private van tours to the surrounding chateaux.
In the Loire Valley, the charm of past centuries still attracts many visitors. As the most popular and largest city in this area, Tours is worth a stop. The renowned chateaux of Chenonceau and Chambord are located in the Loire Valley. Other villages to discover with ancient architecture are Amboise, Chinon and Loches. You will find authentic food plentiful on this journey back in time.
Like the song Champagne Supernova, this is your chance to taste the wine of the kings. It is the land where Benedictine monk Dom Perignon pioneered a number of viticulture techniques in 1670. Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay are the primary grapes used in the production of this most legendary sparkling beverage. By automobile, supercharged Champagne is less than 2 hours of travel time from the City of Lights. At every corner of this bubbly region, clean sparkling beverage flows, like the Marne River that runs through its villages.
Home to the romance and lore of King Arthur and the Round Table, Troyes, Reims, and Épernay are cities that should be explored when considering which wine regions to visit. It goes without saying that no other sparkling wine can be Champagne, so you will not want to miss this opportunity to enjoy a celebration glass here.
Alsace has some of the most beautiful villages in France. The fairytale-like adorned doors and windows of shops and homes line the cobblestone streets. Located in the 10th arrondissement is the Paris East Train Station (Gare de Paris-est), one of the oldest and largest rail stations in Paris. Departing multiple times daily is the TGV: High Speed Rail Service, arriving at Strasbourg Station (Gare de Strasbourg) in just under 2 hours, traveling over 200 mph. A perfect starting point is downtown. You can walk or bicycle with your tour group through the magical quaint villages. Family vineyards are in great abundance. There are 6 white grape varieties: Sylvaner, Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat d’Alsace, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer. There is also a Pinot Noir red.
A wonderful walking town, Strasbourg, is filled with charming hotels, elegant restaurants, and friendly cafes. Bordering Germany lies the scenic Alsace Route, an area known for Sylvaner, Riesling, and Gewurztraminer. Popular villages to explore are Colmar, Obernai, Turckheim, Kaysersberg, and Eguisheim. Many winegrowers will be offering tastings along the way. Historically significant during World War I for its Battle of the Frontiers (1914), this area of Alsace-Lorraine was ceded and retroceded four times with Germany between 1871 - 1945.
Not to be missed, and just a 45-minute drive from the Strasbourg Airport, are the storybook villages of Ribeauvillé and Riquewihr. Ribeauvillé is one of the oldest medieval towns in Alsace. Riquewihr, which has a population of less than 1300 is a member of the Association of the Most Beautiful Villages in France. This very spot is where the animators of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast found inspiration for the fairytale “little town” that Belle called home.
Although a bit far, seven hours by car, or a scenic three hour TGV (high-speed rail) journey, a trip to Bordeaux will put you on the right track. This is the largest viticulture area in France, well known for its Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet franc and Malbec. Cognac, with a population just under 20,000, is ground zero for its brandy distilleries that produce 50 million bottles of the finest brandy on the planet. With its paved cobblestone streets, limestone houses, and breathtaking medieval castles to feast your eyes upon, Cognac and its neighbor a few miles away, Jarnac, is an interesting area of Bordeaux to discover. Bordeaux wines are created from a blend of grape varieties.
Traveling back in time, you will be immersed in classic cuisine and an elegant landscape in Saint-Emilion. Dating back to the 8th century, an hour from Bordeaux is this picturesque medieval village that is renowned for its macarons and fine wine. Soak up the classic French lifestyle, cafes and bars, magnificent hotels, and outstanding restaurants. It was designated a UNESCO Heritage Site in 1999. Saint-Emilion is comprised of 14,000 acres of vineyards and hundreds of chateaux. Dotted with internationally famous wineries, and a cottage industry of rare, hard to find wines, produced from plump, full-bodied Merlot grapes that dominate this area.
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