Numerous tourist routes crisscross the vineyards of France. Between the 140,000 wineries and about 30 different museums, these paths allow for wine tastings, to meet the wine producers, and also to appreciate the local landscapes and architectures: It is made-in-France wine tourism.
Aromas, scents, and colors: The wine route is above all a multi-sensory experience. In 2016, more than ten million tourists participated in wine tourism by heading out to discover France’s wines.
The term “wine tourism” (or, much less commonly in English, “oenotourism”) designated the tasting of wines, and also visits to wineries that provide immersive experiences in the heart of wine country. Here are a couple suggestions of French wine routes in the various regions of France.
Alsace Wine Route
The Alsace Wine Route can be done by car, bike, or even on foot. It crosses the Haut-Rhin and the Bas-Rhin, passing through the Ballons des Vosges () Nature Park, Ballons being name of the small mountain of the Vosges mountain range. Along its 170 km length, it welcomes nearly two million wine tourists each year, enticed by its landscapes, wineries, castles, and “the most beautiful villages in France,” like Ribeauvillé, Riquewihr, Kayserberg and Eguisheim. With nearly 150 million bottles produced here each year, Alsace specializes in white wines.
The Bordeaux Wine Route
Reds, whites, rosés: The wines of the Bordeaux region benefit from a temperate climate, thanks to the humidity of the Atlantic. Médoc, Saint-Emilion, Pomerol, Fonsac, Entre-deux-Mers… there are 50 protected designation of origin (PDO) wines in this area. There are numerous different routes to crisscross the wine country of Bordeaux, to take advantage of the views along the Gironde estuary, Roman churches, and castles. The different products of the region and their history are also presented at the Cité du Vin, a museum specialized on the theme of the cultures and civilizations of wine.
The Burgundy Wine Route
Between Auxerrois and Mâconnais, the Burgundy wine country is spread out between the French départements of Yonne, Saône-et-Loire and Côte d’Or. The region boasts more than one hundred different PDO wines, like Chablis, which was first developed by the Romans in the second century BCE. Across the four routes (Yonne wineries, the grands crus of Burgundy, the grands vins and the wines of Mâconnais-Beaujolais), visitors will discover landscapes and grape varieties as well as sites recognized by UNESCO, like Vézelay, and the protected forests of the Morvan Natural Park.
Corsica Wine Route
The Corsica Wine Routes starts at the Cap Corse (in the northern part of the island), passes through Calvi and Ajaccio to arrive in Figari near the south end of the island. The island boasts nine PDO wines like Patrimonio or Cap Corse Muscat. The vinicultural tradition here dates back to ancient times; about 30 different native wines are still produced here. The exceptional level of sunniness on the “Island of Beauty” and its geological features can be tasted in the wines the region produces.
The Jura Wine Route
With it reds, rosé, white, yellow, and bubbly wines, like Crémant du Jura, the Jura region offers a mosaic of very diverse aromas. Among them is the very first French PDO product, obtained in 1936 by Arbois, where red wines are produced. The region also offers a richness of landscapes: the cascades of Baume-les-Messieurs, the castles of Frontenay and Rosay, or Salines of Salins-les-Bains.
The Provence Wine Route
Well-known for its rosé wines, Provence is also a land of white wines. From the Alps to the Mediterranean, the Provence wine country stretches over 200 km and crisscross numerous remarkable sites like the Sainte-Victoire Mountain or the massif of the Sainte-Baume. Developed by the Provence Wines Route and the Chamber of Agriculture, the digital application “Destination Vins de Provence,” which becomes available this July 2020, offers numerous suggestions for visits of wineries, restaurants, wine cellars, and wine bars in the region. Finally, in addition to the region’s olive groves and its hilly terrain, the region is well-known for its beautiful beaches and inlets.
The Loire Valley Wine Route
The Loire crisscrosses a large viticultural region that can be visited by bike or even houseboat. The cultural excursions are numerous: Castles, orangeries, abbeys, wineries. From Chalonnes-sur-Loire to Sully-sur-Loire, Loire Valley wineries are located in an exceptional landscape that is itself inscribed as a world cultural heritage by UNESCO. This region possesses a palette of very diverse wines due to its numerous microclimates, generated notably by oceanic influence.