France is currently the world’s most popular tourist destination boasting over 80 million visitors each year. Many people think of Paris when they think of France, but the country also plays host to stunning wine destinations, breathtaking mountains, beautiful beaches, and many of the world’s best museums and galleries, making it a travel hotspot for people of all ages and backgrounds.
At Winetraveler, we try to go beyond the wine when we discuss travel destinations. Wine is simply the lubricant that enhances a journey as one traverses a country. That’s why this list includes 13 of the best wine destinations in France that aren’t just wine-producing areas. It includes cities, towns, and small villages within France that serve as great wine destinations themselves, or work as ideal stopping points along a more holistic itinerary.
Whether you’re looking for your next summer beach holiday, a fun winter trip, or a cultural excursion, France is one of the best countries you can choose. With multiple international airports to fly into and plenty of great cities, towns, and villages to check out, you can have an unforgettable wine trip in this wondrous country.
TOP WINE DESTINATIONS IN FRANCE:
- Loire Valley
- …and more
Paris is still the main go-to spot for tourists in France. Couples and families can find plenty of romantic sights, the cuisine is incredible, there are plenty of galleries and museums to check out, and Disneyland Paris is only a short train ride away if kids are in tow.
It also helps that you can visit Paris for surprisingly cheap. Although the city is full of luxurious hotels, you can also find plenty of cheap hotels and Airbnbs if you’re on a budget. You can also choose between world-renowned Michelin-star restaurants and high-end wine bars, or cheap food options. From drinking Champagne on top of the Eiffel Tower, to sunset cruises on the river Seine, there are plenty of interesting sights and activities. If you’re interested in visiting Paris for a few days, we’ve included a link to our tested travel guide below, featuring all of our favorite hotels, restaurants, and things to do.
RELATED: 2 Day Paris Itinerary: A First Timer’s Guide
Although Paris gets all the hype, Nice is arguably an even “nicer” place to visit. This city is situated on the French Riviera, meaning that you’ll be perfectly located between the beach and the French Alps. That means that you could easily spend one day lounging by clear turquoise-blue waters and the next hiking into the nearby mountains.
Nice is full of fun events, including the annual Nice Carnival in February and various festivals, concerts, and art exhibitions. It’s also a great place for history lovers due to sights such as the St Nicholas Russian Orthodox Cathedral and Castle Hill Park. To make matters even sweeter, you can easily take a day trip to Monaco for gambling and fun as it’s only a 30-minute ride away. Alternatively, you can spend days enjoying the culinary delights, museums, and galleries of Nice.
Marseille is a beautiful spot in the Provence region and a perfect choice for those who want a lively yet scenic destination. Marseille is right by the beach and it’s also a hotspot for nature lovers as you can take in the scenery by windsurfing, mountain biking, sailing, or simply hiking through the nearby trails.
It’s also a great hub for day trips. You can use Marseille as a hub to take trips into the beautiful countryside of Provence, including towns like Gordes and Saignon. It’s also a short 30-minute drive from Massif des Calanques, one of the most incredible national parks in the entire country full of breathtaking natural sights.
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Ok, we admit it. We love Provence. Moving on from larger cities in the region like Nice and Marseille, it’s well worth a stop at some of the smaller and truly picturesque hilltop villages. Gordes is one such village with all of the quaint, small-town, cobblestone street charm you can expect to find. For sweeping views of the Provencal countryside, affordable apéritifs and endless dry rosé wine by the glass, be sure to stop at boutique restaurant and bar La Trinquette, serving up modern French cuisine on one of the best balconies in the town.
For an equally scenic and historic hilltop village not far from Gordes, be sure to stop by Bonnieux. We recommend planning a lunch in Gordes, followed by a wine tasting at nearby Domaine de la Citadelle, and ending with dinner at 2-star Michelin restaurant La Bastide de Capelongue.
Not far from Gordes lies the utterly picturesque and historic village of Saint-Rémy. This small village folded into the sweeping green valleys of Provence has a big heart, beating with some of the best cuisine in the region, boutique wine shops, and ancient streets.
Historic is an understatement when mentioning Saint-Rémy. It was once the ancient Roman city of Glanum, and still plays host to its ruins and the quarry that was once used to build much of its stone structures. Moving on through the centuries, it became something of an artist and philosopher’s pilgrimage, with Van Gogh and others producing a number of famous works here. It’s also where Nostradamus was born, and you can still walk by what remains of that house today.
Wine lovers will already be familiar with the wine region of Bordeaux. But it’s also a city. This gorgeous French city is known as the wine capital of the world and you won’t be short on options whether you’re looking for a fancy wine bar, a wine-tasting event, or a tour of the nearby vineyards. It’s also one of the best places for foodies as it’s full of Michelin-star restaurants as well as plenty of more affordable options.
Even if you’re not looking for world-class wine and cuisine, you can find plenty of fun things to do here. The city is jam-packed with attractions such as the Water Mirror, Porte Cailhau, and many markets, museums, bars, and clubs. Alternatively, you could have a relaxing day biking along the waterfront and taking in the stunning architecture and great weather.
RELATED: 30 Must-Visit Wineries in the Bordeaux Region
Continuing on with wine-themed destinations, Champagne provides the perfect mix of delectable bubbles, luxurious architecture, unmatched scenery, and cataclysmic history. While you could easily spend several days staying in the region, it’s also easily accessible from Paris and makes for the perfect day or weekend trip. We discuss an ideal 2-day Champagne itinerary right here.
When we mention history in Champagne, we aren’t just talking about winemaking (though this is impressive in its own right), but it has also been a sought-after region for settlement dating back well before the Celtic and Roman periods. In addition, it has seen its fair share of warfare, with the World War I battlefields of Verdun and others just a short drive away from Champagne’s vineyard setting. This is a great region to visit for the sophisticated wine lover and history buff with a keen interest in sparkling wine.
RELATED: The Battle of Verdun: How To Visit the Battlefield Near Champagne, France
If you’re a fan of winter sports, Chamonix is the place for you. This world-renowned resort destination is located right on the border between France, Italy, and Switzerland and allows you to ski and snowboard through the alps while enjoying the amazing mountain sights. You can also take a cable car into Italy or check out attractions such as the Parc de Merlet or the ice sculptures of Grotte de Glace.
However, Chamonix isn’t just for winter lovers. In the summer you can go here to hike through the Alps, mountain bike through the trails, or even rent an e-bike to take in the sights. It’s also a hotspot for paragliding, golfing, and watersports. It’s basically the perfect playground for outdoor activities throughout any season.
Cannes is a top resort town on the French Riviera, meaning that you’ll get excellent beaches and stunning natural views if you choose to stay here. The town is mainly known for the Cannes Film Festival, which allows the general public to check out new films via open-air screenings. However, it also offers plenty of other activities.
Whether you want to go sailing, check out historical sites, or just chill on the beach and enjoy some ice cream, you can have an amazing time in Cannes. It’s also close to golf courses, national parks, and other French hotspots like Nice and Saint-Tropez, so you have plenty of choices for day trips.
Nimes is an underrated gem in France, especially for history lovers. You’ll feel like you’ve been transported into another country here due to the abundance of Roman architecture. It’s often described as the most Roman city in France due to sights such as the Arena of Nimes, Jardin de La Fontaine, Temple de Diane, and the Maison Carrée Roman temple.
If you’ve ever felt like attending an event in a Roman amphitheater, the Arena of Nimes now hosts shows from world-famous music artists such as Foo Fighters, Gorillaz, and Deep Purple. It’s also used as a bullfighting arena during May. Outside of the Roman sights, you can find plenty of museums, art galleries, and delicious French food stalls. You can also take trips to Marseille, Massif des Calanques, and the Provence countryside.
The Loire Valley
From Vouvray, to Touraine, Saumer, Sancerre and beyond, the Loire Valley is a Winetraveler’s paradise. Whether you’re into red wines, white wines, sparkling wines or rosé, there is something for everybody’s palate in the Loire. Aside from high-quality juice, it’s also home to the highest density of castles in France as well as the country’s longest river.
If you’re interested in feeling like royalty for a day (or several), while enjoying premium Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc, and even Chenin Blanc, the Loire is for you. Wine lovers will also appreciate the quality of sparkling wine (called Crémant here) coming out of the Saumer sub-region if you know where to look.
FUN FACT: The Loire Valley is France’s #2 sparkling wine-producing region by quantity.
RELATED: Essential Touraine Travel Guide: Explore the Heart of the Loire Valley
One of the most underrated wine regions in France, Languedoc is well worth a visit for any number of reasons. From a scenic perspective, Languedoc offers up a little bit of everything. Here you can expect rolling hills and valleys as far as the eye can see, tiny picturesque French villages, snow-capped mountains, and turquoise blue coastal views. Therefore, it’s an ideal French wine destination that works for any time of year.
Most consumers who are new to the wine world have rarely sampled wines from the Languedoc-Roussillon region (or maybe you have and not known it), but it’s actually France’s largest wine-producing region and vineyard area. Wine production in Languedoc dates back (as far as we know) to the Greeks during the 5th century BC.
RELATED: Languedoc Itinerary: Essential Wineries, Hotels & Restaurants Near Montpellier & Pézanas
Lille is another one of France’s most underrated cities. Lille is the lively capital of the Hauts-de-France in Northern France known for its amazing local markets, delicious food stalls, and fun nightlife. As well as sampling amazing French cheese it’s also a hotspot for beer and waffles, which might have something to do with its proximity to Belgium.
The city is incredibly affordable compared to other cities such as Paris and Lyon while still offering plenty to do. It’s also an excellent hub for day trips. Not only is Paris just a one-hour train ride away, but you can also cross the border into Belgium and visit gems such as Brussels or Bruges.
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It’s no surprise that France is a globally renowned hotspot for wine travelers. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway to the French countryside, a relaxing weekend trip to the beaches, or an adventure-filled trip to the Alps, the country offers all of that and more. Not to mention some of the world’s best cheese and wine.
These are thirteen of the best places to visit in France and all of them are worth checking out. However, if none of these destinations suit your fancy, there are plenty of other great spots to check out, including Saint-Tropez, Caen, Nantes, Toulouse, and Montpellier. No matter where you choose to go, you’re sure to be charmed by this European gem.
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