Editor’s Note: Those who choose to travel are strongly encouraged to check local government restrictions, rules, and safety measures related to COVID-19 and take personal comfort levels and health conditions into consideration before departure.
When you imagine the perfect French vacation, the scene is probably filled with fairy-tale castles, charming streets lined with picturesque boulangeries and brasseries, and lots of delicious food and wine. Whether you plan to spend your days sunning in Saint-Tropez, skiing in Chamonix, or touring the City of Lights, any trip to France should include the country’s famed culinary delights and plenty of local wine. And visitors with a penchant for viticulture will know that there are countless esteemed French vineyards located throughout the country, so even if you’re not planning a dedicated tour of France’s best wineries, you can still fit a vineyard or two into your vacation itinerary.
Some areas are easily accessible from major cities — in fact, the Champagne region is an easy day trip from Paris — so you have the option of taking a DIY tour by train or car or joining a guided group trip for a more streamlined experience. Either way, you’re bound to taste some fantastic wines and walk away with a few souvenir bottles. To help you start planning your dream trip to France, here are 10 popular French wine regions (and a few famous vineyards and wineries).
Related: More wine-inspired trip ideas
Near the border of Germany and Switzerland, this region is home to the Alsace Wine Route, a 170-kilometer stretch that takes travelers past fairy-tale villages, castles, churches, and, of course, many vineyards. Nearby Strasbourg, which has distinct German and French influences, is the perfect home base if you want to explore this area.
You might not know how to distinguish a Languedoc wine from one from Alsace, but everyone knows Champagne. Visit the world’s most famous Champagne houses in Reims and Épernay (think Veuve Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, and Mumm, just to name a few), or explore the vineyards along the Champagne Tourist Route.
Alsace isn’t the only wine region with a specified route — several areas offer curated journeys featuring picturesque vineyards and more, including Beaujolais’s 140-kilometer circuit. The area is perhaps best known for Beaujolais nouveau, released every November, but you can travel the route at any time to see the scenic vineyards and taste the region’s wines.
One of the world’s most famous wine regions, Bordeaux is home to a number of esteemed vineyards and truly beautiful chateaux — you can even spend the night in a castle-like residence on a historic wine estate. Wine lovers will also want to visit the Cité du Vin, so they can learn all about wine history, culture, and creation, and sip a glass from the top floor featuring 360-degree views.
“Les climats du vignoble de Bourgogne” — the Burgundy vineyard areas known for their unique terroir — are identified as UNESCO World Heritage sites and have some incredible wines. Explore the vineyards by foot, bike (on the Véloroute), car, or even hot-air balloon, and plan your trip to overlap with one of the 100-plus festivals and events held during typical years.
Stunning chateaux, beautiful landscapes, France’s longest wine route, and over 1,000 vineyards open to the public — these are some of the highlights of the Loire Valley. Avid bikers will want to go for a ride along the hundreds of miles of paths lining the Loire River, and you’ll definitely want to visit one (or a few) of the palatial homes that date back hundreds of years, like the Château de Chambord.
Cognac is home to the largest white grape vineyard in all of Europe, but you probably recognize the region for its famous brandy. When you’re not exploring the area’s vineyards and historic sites, tour the esteemed Cognac maisons — Rémy Martin, Martell & Co., and Hennessy are a few of the famous Cognac producers you’ll find in this region.
With charming villages, delicious food, lavender fields, and plenty of rosé, Provence is a must-visit French region whether you love wine or not. Of course, with over 400 vineyards and wine cellars, there’s plenty for wine connoisseurs to discover here.
Located along the Mediterranean, this region has some of the oldest and largest vineyards in France. Now part of the larger Occitanie administrative region, Languedoc is home to a number of wineries, as is its neighbor Roussillon, which is famous for vins doux naturels (sweet fortified wines).
You can explore the second-largest wine growing region in the country when you visit the Rhône Valley. The area offers 14 wine routes, so you can taste your way through lots of delicious vinos, and there are a few notable spots that make a great home base for your wine-inspired travels, including Lyon, Avignon, and Nîmes.