Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

One Month in France - Travel to Wine Regions

One Month in France - Travel to Wine Regions

Sep 24th, 2012, 04:03 PM
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 121
One Month in France - Travel to Wine Regions

My husband and I are planning a one month vacation in France this July - Paris and various wine regions (visiting wine regions of the world is our latest Bucket List). We are a little overwhelmed with where to go......thinking we need to do about 4 nights in Paris, but then specifically where in the various wine regions??? We are thinking about 4 nights in each area (need town/ciy recommendations), so about 6 more stops (we drink both red and white). We would be travelling by train (possiblity by bus to smaller towns from train stations....). All suggestions are greatly appreciated - I have done a number of searches, but can't really get anything that even remotely matches what we are looking for.....
Travel_Bug_Cin is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 06:29 PM
  #2  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
I think you would find it much easier to see the various wine regions by car than public transit - unless you are planning on just staying in one place and taking van tours by the day. (The vinyards are usually in the deep countryside and often not reachable at all by train - or conveniently by bus.)

We visited some vinyards in Burgundy - staying in Avallon and also visiting Vezelay - as well as several of the wine towns on the road between Strasbourg and Colmar. I suppose it might have been possible by public transit - but think it would have taken much longer.

Also - definitely visit Reims and Epernay if you have any interest in the Champagne houses.
nytraveler is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 06:37 PM
  #3  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 59
Are you seriously interested in the wine or are you looking for picturesque and charming rural destinations?

Because if it is the former, you should consult some wine specific travel books, magazines, blogs, many dedicated solely to France's greatest wine production areas. You can also look at professional tours to see where they take their clients.

If you want picturesque over wine education, and say you can't fine "remotely what you are looking for," can you be more specific? What kind of searches did you do?
caldarroste is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 06:44 PM
  #4  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 59
You might find this an interesting read if you read it all the way through:

http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/867002
caldarroste is offline  
Sep 24th, 2012, 06:45 PM
  #5  
 
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 20,488
Alsace, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone and the Loire are the areas that come to mind. Given that these areas are all over France, and that wineries are in rural areas (public transportation might be a problem), a car rental might make sense.

check out www.autoeurope.com as a starter.
Michael is online now  
Sep 24th, 2012, 08:39 PM
  #6  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,238
Also Champagne, where an overnight would be adequate.

Look for Frederick Wildman's "The Wines of France," old but very, very good.
Underhill is online now  
Sep 25th, 2012, 04:00 AM
  #7  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,419
ttt
bilboburgler is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 04:19 AM
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 16,419
I've done most wine areas in france by bicycle and public transport including some that are well off the beaten track, the benefit is that you have fewer problems with the police that way. I would seriously suggest using good folding bikes and a car for your trip (but I'm sure most people would think I'm mad), however I expect to visit between 3 sites in a morning, 3 in the afternoon, have lunchand supper and spit at the tasting. I suggest you look at the following

Bordeaux haut medoc, if this is your thing, pay for a tour, as the big houses need to be booked months ahead and want money you just have to cough up.
Everywhere else, you can just about walk in, if there is someone you have to see, then book (or they may be out for the day).

I think you need to understand the correct behaviour at these places (Fodors did a poor write on this recently and I left some "comments" which might help).

Once the thought of wasting your money on Haut Medoc is out of the way I'd look at the rest

Champers, a train trip from Paris, I'd go to Epernay not Reims as the walking is less and TI hire bikes for the out of the way places, stay in town a couple of nights and try odd little places (however, if not the top 30 houses you will need to speak a lttle french)

Alsace, go straight on from Reims but stay out of Colmar (Equisheim is in the midst more) and taste going south from a line parallel to Colmar to Guebervillier (sorry is the spelling is off but I'm doing this from memory)

Train to Auxerre and car to Chablis, also St Bris, and if you like the early part of the Loire like Sancerre

South to Burgundy and stay in a village say Nuit St George, though most use Beaunne.

From here you could go down to Rhone (I gave up drinking Beaujolais when I hit adulthood) and that could take you the best part of a week.

Choise then is to hack into massive Languedoc or the massive Loire (for me Chenin Blanc and Cabernet Franc wins every time) so Vouvray, Savenierre, Saumur/Champigny and try to let your taste buds get excited about sweet wine with pate and blue cheese.

Train onto Bordeaux in particular the Cote de Bordeaux both red and sweet white are really good value and the Chinese are buying the better houses as they are under valued so this wine will soon be gone.

That should kill 4 weeksm but if does not then the south and any specialist areas like la Clape.
bilboburgler is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 04:51 AM
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,810
I would seriously increase your time in Paris. And for a bit of fun and difference in your trip you might think about a barge trip in the Burgundy area. You would do the fun wineries and tastings in addition to the barge (the small ones, not the big river cruiser).
And I second the idea of renting a car for the various areas. YOu can train to them, but it will be much more accessible on your own to have a car.
You say you "drink" both red and white, but to be honest, if you are unsure about where to go, you might need to take a wine course or two to familiarize yourself with the grapes, the land/terroir, the types of wine, etc. if you really want to experience a wine tour. If it is for the picturesque towns and areas, then that is great also.
Gretchen is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 05:42 AM
  #10  
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Posts: 2,672
We have visited the Loire, Bordeaux and the Rhone and have included wine tours on each of out trips. We drink and enjoy wine and enjoyed all of the tours. However, unless you are a real wine expert and wine lover, you may soon tire of endless wine tours and afternoon wine tastings.

I suggest more time in Paris and perhaps two wine regions, focusing on those that have the most to see and do. By limiting yourself to wine regions, you are likely to bypass two lovely areas of France - Normandy and Provence (although Provence makes some very tasty wines, it is not generally considered a major wine region). And, in order to fully appreciate these areas, you really should consider driving.

Check guidebooks to find the most appealing regions, both for their wine and for other sightseeing and choose the ones you want to visit. Many on this board can help you with details once you decide on a gereral itinerary.
mamcalice is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 05:43 AM
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 17
I guess the best would be for you to visit Bordeaux region (the grand crus are - besides some wineries of Burgogne - the top notch of French wine).
The best would be to travel by car but you can also bike but you need to be in a relatively good shape because the distances are not so very short.
Definetely visit Margot, Pauillac, Haut-Medoc, Saint Julien and Saint Emilion (for red wines, Sauternes has VERY GOOD WHITE wines).
From Saint Julien you can take the ferry accross the Gironde Estuary (10 min) and go to Cotes de Blaye (and visit the Citadel of Blaye in the process).
A good way to start you Bordeaux wine discovery would be to visit Wine and Trading Museum of Bordeaux - the staff is very knowledgeable and can give you a lot of information.
There is only one unfortunate thing. To visit the best Bordeaux wineries ( the so called "Grand Crus Classées 1855") you need to have an appointmet.
I suggest you check out : http://southweststory.com/StoryMap.php?id=winbrd
They have tips about the best Bordeaux wineries, wine tasting etc; etc.
Carla_Jung is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 07:55 AM
  #12  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
Perhaps you should pick up the Michelin Green Guide on teh Wine Regions of France
jamikins is offline  
Sep 25th, 2012, 08:21 AM
  #13  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,650
It's a bit hard for me to understand how visiting the wine regions of the world got on your bucket list when you are "overwhelmed with where to go." France surely has about the most famous wine regions anywhere in the world, and even simple searches on the Internet or a quick trip to the library or book store would bring up tens of thousands of sources, including one of those ubiquitous "wine maps," showing all the regions. If this really is a major item on your bucket list, I agree that you should start reading up, taking courses, and sampling wines, so you know what you're doing. Otherwise, you might just as well get in a car, drive around France, and stop at every dégustation sign you come across and enjoy the vineyards in the countryside. I also agree that tours of big wine châteaux day after day is likely to be a bore for anyone who's not an expert. In short, this sounds like a romanticized notion.

And despite the fact that Bordeaux is über-famous for its wines, it's hardly the most picturesque wine region, though for learning about wine, it has a boatload of resources, many of them right in the heart of the city - like La Maison du Vin. But to tour the major wine houses in the area, you'll need an appointment, and some of the really famous ones you won't get one unless you're a négociant. It's probably the very last wine region in France I'd suggest visiting for anyone but a true expert.

I like the idea of bicycles, though I've never done it, but of course you'll need a car too. As mentioned, you can't take trains and buses to vineyards and châteaux. Wine making is an agricultural endeavor, i.e., rural. Of course, in any French city (or town, or even village), the opportunities to sample and learn about wine are legion.

I also think you should spend more time in Paris. And, if you're serious about wine, think about going during the vendange, not in July. But I don't think you're serious about wine; in sum, I think this is a sort of fanciful idea, and instead of thinking of it in terms of visiting the great wine regions of the world you should think of it as a wonderful, month-long trip to France, with a week in Paris and a week each (with a car so you can actually see vineyards) in three other regions notable for their wine production, like the Loire, Alsace, and Burgundy. All three offer myriad options to spending 21 solid days in wine pursuits.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 27th, 2012, 05:04 PM
  #14  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 121
Thanks All for the advice... I will begin planning what cities we can travel to by train and then be able to book a car for local touring of wineries. We are very interested in seeing the countryside and visiting a number of different wineries in various regions throughtout France.
Travel_Bug_Cin is offline  
Sep 27th, 2012, 05:40 PM
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,810
I could not second St. Cirq's assessment and suggestions more.
Have a great time IN France, and have some wine along the way.
Gretchen is offline  
Sep 27th, 2012, 05:55 PM
  #16  
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 2,552
After you leave Paris I would suggest keeping your car for the rest of your trip. You'll see so much more of France this way. Make a circular loop of France, maybe starting in Champagne, Alsace or Burgundy and then heading south through the Rhône wine region, into Provence then up through Languedoc, Dordogne and into the Loire before ending back in Paris. Unless you are seriously into wine I would skip Bordeaux.
FrenchMystiqueTours is offline  
Sep 27th, 2012, 07:22 PM
  #17  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 45,650
If you take the train to various cities and then book a car for local touring, unless you book that car for 3 or more days at a time you'll be spending boodles more money than you need to. Just get a car when you leave Paris and hang onto it until you go back.
StCirq is online now  
Sep 28th, 2012, 03:32 AM
  #18  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 121
Just to clarify - My husband and I have travelled to many places in the world - we pick a "theme" (our Bucket List) and this gives us some direction. Wine Regions of the World is our latest (last one was 7 New Wonderes of the World). We have been to wine regions in Argentina and Chile. France has so many wine regions compared to most countries - and that is what I meant by overwhelming (with only a month in the country and wanting to also experience Paris...just wondered people's thoughts on which they thought were the "must visit" wine regions in France). Although wine is the "draw" to an area, we are definitely interested in seeing the local sites (landscapes, architecture,etc.), good food, and meeting people.
Travel_Bug_Cin is offline  
Sep 28th, 2012, 03:34 AM
  #19  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 121
Thanks for the input re: train vs. driving. Upon all the advice, once we leave Paris, we will take a rental to travel around France.
Travel_Bug_Cin is offline  
Sep 28th, 2012, 03:46 AM
  #20  
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 10,298
Great idea to keep the car the entire time!

We went to Champagne last year and have been to Burgundy several times as well. I would highly recommend both, Burgundy is exactly what I pictured french wine country to be like. The towns are really picturesque and the rolling hills of vines are beautiful. We always stay in Beaune. Dijon is a fantastic larger town/city that definitely warrants some time as well.

Dont miss the tasting at the Marche aux Vins in Beaune: http://www.marcheauxvins.com/vin-bea...e-tasting.html You go down into their cellars and try a bunch of wines. Lovely experience.

Champagne was great too, not quite as picturesque but still work a few days.

Hope this helps!
jamikins is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -

FODOR'S VIDEO

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 03:10 PM.