Wine in France

When you think wine, one of the first countries that springs to mind is France. It is well-respected for its dedication to quality in winemaking and has a reputation for producing some of the best wines in the world. From Bordeaux and Burgundy to Champagne and Châteauneuf-du-Pape, French wines are celebrated by connoisseurs and novices alike.

With DFDS it’s easy to jump on one of our ferries to the continent and sample some of the finest wines known to man. Taking your car is the most convenient way to get around and see some of the best vineyards in France, which are located all across the country.

Header image credit: Stephane Mignon

History

History

The ancient Greeks were the first to take advantage of France’s climate and rich soil to make wine over 2,500 years ago. The Romans then took vines and their winemaking skills north after they conquered Gaul in 51 B.C. and encouraged the planting of vines in areas that would become the well-known wine regions of Bordeaux, Burgundy, Alsace, Champagne, Languedoc, the Loire Valley and the Rhone. 

In the following centuries, Christian monks made pioneering advances in both winemaking and distilling and the Catholic Church was one of France's largest vineyard owners. By the Middle Ages, the English and Dutch already recognised the quality of French wine and their interest had opened up a brand-new export market.

Image credit: Son of Groucho

Variety

Variety

The French rarely put the name of the grape on the bottle. Instead they favour the region in which the wine was produced. This is because of the notion of ‘terroir’. When winemakers speak about terroir, they're talking about a variety of things that influence the vine, including the type of soil it's growing in, the slope and elevation of the vineyard, as well as the climate and weather. 

Some of the best terroir for wine can be found in well-known regions such as Champagne, Loire and Burgundy to the north and Bordeaux, Rhone and Languedoc to the south.

Image credit: Sylvain Kalache

Vineyard Tours

Vineyard tours

There are literally hundreds of vineyard tours across France, which can vary from one-day tours of an individual vineyard to two week-long excursions covering whole winemaking regions.

If you’re interested in taking a guided trip then Grape Escapes offer a wide range of tours and they even drive you around so you can make the most of the wine tasting.

If you’re looking to incorporate a few vineyards into your holiday, then take a trip to Bordeaux and Champagne where they have some of the best in France. There are many amazing vineyards in Bordeaux, so the best way to decide which to visit is to go the ones that produce your favourite wine. The Marne is the leading Champagne-producing département in France and its most famous vineyards are the Montagne de Reims, Côte des Blancs, Vallée de la Marne and Massif de Saint-Thierry, all a must for Champagne lovers.

Image credit: jswinetours

Festivals

Festivals

The French are extremely proud of their produce so it’s no surprise that there are hundreds of festivals celebrating the humble grape. The Bordeaux Wine Festival is a four day-long event, celebrating the wines of Bordeaux and Aquitaine. 

The Louvre in Paris hosts Le Festival des Meilleurs Vins – a unique meeting of winemakers and lovers of wine. You will also find that each year in Burgundy and Alsace the local villages all take it in turns to hold wine events to celebrate their local vineyards. 

These take place over the summer months and there is normally an event held every weekend. Believe it or not, there is a small urban vineyard in the heart of Montmartre, Paris which hosts The Grape Harvest Festival each October. This traditional gathering is a lively festival celebrating the new grape harvest.

Image credit: Leonid Mamchenkov​

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