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Holidays to really Wine about


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OK we beg your pardon for the pun.

France has an ancient tradition of wine making, the notion of old world vintages from vineyards whose produce has been supped by Popes and Kings is a heritage that’s surely insurmountable. If you’re goal is to learn about wine your first stop really should be France.

Whether you consider yourself a connoisseur, aspire to become one or are just interested in finding some good wines, late summer is an ideal time for you to tour France’s wine country.

With the harvest approaching fast, taking a tour while the vines are full but harried pickers aren’t beavering away is ideal while the summer sun lasts. This time of year is like the calm before the storm and a tranquil daze falls across vine rows, taking a stroll down the avenues can be just as intoxicating as a glass of red.

The main areas to visit for wine in France are: Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne and the Loire Valley. Each offers a unique guide to French wine making and you can book tours with companies or just take a trip by car or bicycle through the open country to each vineyard. There are a variety of wine tasting tour companies which vary in method from hotel arranged pick ups to deluxe VIP tours from companies such as French Wine Explorers. The latter specialises in taking guests to the exclusive and hard to reach vintners, giving you a bespoke tour to best suit your interests.

Romance does not abide in Paris alone, the French landscape itself can stir the soul and make a couple’s holiday seem all the more special.

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Areas like the Loire Valley are immensely beautiful. A handheld tour with your loved one under autumn foliage, down secluded waterways with the scent of vineyards in the air will surely bring out the romantic in you. Of course a decent bottle of wine and countryside lodgings will help you make the most of your holiday as well.

There is much more to do than just drink in these regions, for our post on the scenic beauty of the Loire Valley follow this link. Champagne also offers more than it’s bubbly namesake. Beers have crossed the border from Belgium. The north of France has an intriguing array of locations, not to mention events that would help make your French holiday all the more memorable.

If tasting wine is more important to you than getting a feel for the environment and the process of French winemaking, you can remain in the capital for a tasting session.

Where better than the hub of France itself to get a masterclass in the very best wines that France has to offer? These tasting classes begin at €50 and you can take your pick from drinking as you drift down the Seine to the scented cellars of the Parisian wine aficionados or something a little more modern like taking to a roof top restaurant.

Burgundy and Bordeaux

Some of the most famous French wines come from the Bordeaux and Burgundy regions. If you favour a glass of red then these more southerly areas are for you. Unfortunately this would mean quite a journey from the ferry port in Calais.

In Bordeaux, wine tasting summer courses are available, priced at €35 a head. This is quite a good deal considering that the workshops will school you in everything from tasting, to a course in how the wine is made.

These are a great idea for any budding vintner, connoisseur in the making or perhaps restauranteur who really wants to get to grips with subtleties of the different vintages.
If attending classes isn’t to your taste then all you really need do is find a decent guide or maybe just a get a book detailing the finer aspects of your preferred region.

One of the recommended sites for doing just such is Saint Emilion. This is an UNESCO world heritage site right in the center of Bordeaux. This small medieval village is quite far off the beaten track, yet remains near to the vineyards so you’ll get good exposure to the wines of the region without falling in to a massive crowd of ‘wine tourists’.

Burgundy has a better proximity to central France so you can get tours of the vineyards that pick you up from your hotel in Paris. If you’re taking a city trip an urban night is better offset by spending the day out in the French countryside, particularly if it’s a bright sunny day.

Tours run by companies such as Authentica have a great reputation for hospitality, and their tour guides will give you tips on the best places to stop for lunch in Dijon. The best part of these trips is the warmth and interest of your guide. Wine tasting has an air dignity and sophistication to it but vineyards are places of energy and enthusiasm. Wine making may be a slow process however the love of the craft is a beautiful thing to behold in an authentic French setting.

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If authenticity is what you strive for then a vineyard cycling holiday is definitely what we recommend. Logistically these are far simpler then you’d believe. A 6-8 day tour of the Cotes de Rhone, Provence, Burgundy or the Loire Valley will take you down beautiful waterways and across sprawling vineyards. You can stop to recuperate in the small towns and pause at the wineries to sample the good stuff. With hotel bookings arranged before hand you can sojourn, seeing or tasting whatever sparks your curiosity.

While the good weather lasts you can end up at the coast for a dip and then take a rapid transport through France and back up to Calais in time for the ferry home.

Book now to get to France’s wine region in 2018, P&O Ferries Dover to Calais ferry crossing can get you there!

Image Credit: tribe , Isabel , Loren Kerns

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