Wine Routes in France are plentiful and well-known. Incredible french vineyards and wine cellars exist all over this romantic and ecologically diverse country. With Winalist, you can learn about the main wine trails that you may come across while in France.
For your next holiday, try exploring famous and beautiful French wine regions! We’re happy to help you plan you trip by giving you a large choice of itineraries in all french vineyards. This way, you can enjoy France
What is a French Wine Route?
A “french wine route” refers to a route in France that takes you through any of its distinct wine regions. Hundreds of wine routes exist in France that allow visitors to tour beautiful French countryside speckled in vines.
In France, the first vines were planted by the Greek the 2nd century BC, when the country was still called “Gaul”. The Romans then developed wine production and the wines’ quality improved over years to formed different identities according to where and how they are produced. To get their wines more famous, French winemakers invented tourist routes allowing travelers to both enjoy discovering a wine region and its local treasures to drink.
By car, by bike or walking, a wine route is a tourist trail one can take to discover the vineyards of a given wine region and their productions through diverse activities. There are at least as many wine routes as wine regions in France; Winalist presents you the 3 main ones. We start with the oldest one:
The Alsace Wine Route
Out of all the french wine regions, Alsace may be the most famous – specifically for its French wine route. The Alsace Wine Route spans across 38 wine trails and winds through the Alsace Wine Region from North to South. It boasts breathtaking views of the vineyards in this region of France.
Invented in 1953 the Alsace wine route spreads over 105 miles, covers about 15 000 hectares over 119 municipalities. When you arrive at its beginning, you can’t miss the trail; not only will you find it on Google Maps, but once there, the path is all marked off with numerous signs.
On this route, you will discover flower-filled villages several times awarded as the “favorite village” of France (village préféré des français) with half-timbered houses, fortified walls, castles, old churches and tasting cellars! From April to October every year, the villages there alternatively organize wine festivals to make the route even more special for visitors!
After World War I, winegrowers began to produce white wines made from typical varieties of grapes. Three of these wines have been nationally recognized and protected by the government with the “AOC” label (the certification granted to certain French geographical indications for wines and foodstuff) in 1962: Alsace, Alsace Grand Cru, and Crémant d’Alsace.
You can tell a wine is from this area looking at its bottle. In Alsace, all wines are served in the “flute” of Alsace.
Alsace is also well known for the Alsace Christmas markets. If you happen to be in this region of France and touring its colorful environment for the holidays, don’t forget to visit these unforgettable markets.
The Bordeaux Wine Route
Alsace is only one of many incredible wine routes for you to explore in France. Take, for example, the Bordeaux wine routes. The six Bordeaux wine routes are the best way to explore best wineries in Bordeaux and landscapes.
Bordeaux wine took off during the Middle Ages when the region of Aquitaine was under English rule. The English fell in love with “clarette”, a light red wine, and fostered the development of the wine industry and trade in the area.
In present days, Bordeaux wines can be enjoyed in anywhere around the world, and the vineyards also produce famous dry or sweet white wines, as well as rosé wines made from red grapes.
The Bordeaux region of France represents 57 AOC (designation controlled), thousands houses of wines and hundreds of trading houses stretched over 120,000 hectares of land, rivers, vines, and pines. To discover this region, the 6 wine routes of Bordeaux stand out as more than just a journey through vineyards, but a way to witness the beauty of this Southern France region. These six routes include:
- The castles route: in the Médoc area, in the North of Bordeaux, close to the ocean, you can find the main “Grands Crus classés” (top ranked vintage wines) and many “crus bourgeois” (very fine wines).
- Route des Graves: at the edge of the Landes forest. The Sauternes comes from this little area where many castles offer bed and breakfast in a tremendous environment.
- The Bastides route: located between the Dordogne river and the Garonne river (called “Entre-deux-Mers”) this area abounds with fortified towns called “bastides” and abbeys to visit!
- The heritage Route: in the East of Bordeaux on the bank of the Dordogne river, this trail will lead you to the medieval village of Saint-Émilion (listed as a World Heritage Site by the Unesco).
- The hillsides route: in the North of Bordeaux, this path provides visitors with great views on the Gironde estuary. The route also walks you to antic villages, Roman churches, Gallo-Roman vestiges and to the famous citadel of Blaye, built by the 18th century military engineer Vauban.
The Burgundy Wine Route
The family of Burgundy wines expands over 29,500 hectares with more than four thousand wineries. In the Middle Ages, monks were the first to structure some wine production around their abbeys. Now, Burgundy wines are known outside the French borders but are to be discovered in their habitat through 4 major routes – to take separately or altogether in a row. From North to South, here are those four routes:
- The Yonne vines route: not too far from Paris, a bit before Dijon, this route goes through the cities of Auxerre, Tonnerre or Vézelay. The Chablis wine is native from this area.
- The Burgundy vintage wines route: from Dijon to the Côte de Beaune, this pathway will lead you through this Golden slope area (“Côte d’or”) that produces the most famous wines. You will discover old villages, hospices and castles like the Clos de Vougeot.
- The great wines route: make you discover the chalonnaise slope bordered by the Centre canal and the Saône river.
- The Mâconnais-Beaujolais wines route: marked by “Suivez la grappe” (follow the grape) signs, this route leads you to numerous vineyards and the beautiful city of Mâcon. You will also discover the Rock of Solutré, one of Burgundy’s most famous natural sites.
Discover the best wine tours and tastings in Burgundy:
The Loire Valley Wine Route
The Loire Valley is a vast region that abounds in terroirs and offers a great diversity of its wines. Between castles, gardens and historic villages, the banks of the Loire, the region benefits from a rich heritage which allows it to be classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
From Angers to Saumur, from Tours to Chinon, and from Sancerre to Bourges, the flagship appellations such as Montlouis, Savennières, Bourgueil, Pouilly, Quincy. You can explore these appellations on foot, by bike or by car. Discover the wines of the Loire as well, from sparkling varieties to, still, mellow, dry, and off-dry wines.
- Touraine Wine Route: with a landscape dominated by majestic silhouettes, Touraine is home to the largest castles of the Loire: Amboise, Azay-le-Rideau, Chenonceau, Villandry, Clos Lucé, Chinon, Langeais, Loches.
- Nantes Wine Route: the winegrowers mainly produce white wines but also red and rosé wines. The main grape varieties that make up the vineyard are for white wine, Melon de Bourgogne, Chenin and Sauvignon. It is also in this region that we produce the famous white wine with a controlled designation of origin that you all know, Muscadet.
- Sancerre Wine Route: Perched at an altitude of 310 meters on its rocky peak and covered with vineyards and forest, the town of Sancerre dominates the panorama of the Loire Valley. You can visit this city on foot and discover its history through its monuments and old houses. Go to the Château de Sancerre to appreciate the sublime view of the Loire that awaits you.
- Anjou-Saumur Wine Route: Anjou is best known for its great Chenin Blanc appellations (sometimes with a little Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc), notably Savennières and Coteaux du Layon. The rosé produced in this region is also recognizable by its sweetness.
The Rhone Valley Wine Route
The current of the Rhône will serve as your guide, from Vienne to Valence for the northern part, from Montélimar to Avignon for the southern part. You will cross two very distinct geographical entities: the first marked by the verticality of its hillsides, well exposed to the south in a continental climate and the second, southern, with its vines staggered on a more arid land between olive trees and lavender.
Prestigious vineyards come from these two regions. Between Vienne and Valence, you will taste the highly sought-after Côte-Rôtie, the Condrieu known for its refinement, the Château-Grillet, the Saint-Joseph and the Hermitage.
- Northern Rhône Valley Wine Route: you will have the opportunity to discover the terroirs of the Rhône Valley in all their richness and diversity.
- Southern Rhône Valley Wine Route: There is a great diversity of wines here due to the many types of mixed soils as well as the varied climates.
The South-West Wine Route
The South-West region of France is located between the Pyrenees and Spain to the South, Bordeaux to the North and the Atlantic Ocean to the West. It is the 5th largest wine region in France. If you are looking for a rural, peaceful and laid back holiday, you have come to the right place!
- Gaillac Wine Route: Gaillac is a historic wine region located northeast of Toulouse in southwestern France. It is one of the oldest wine-growing areas in France, established in Roman times or even earlier, it still produces a wide variety of wines today and continues to grow thanks to the flourishing agriculture of its region.
- Madiran Wine Route: the Madiran Wine Route. Between seas and mountains, the Madiran vineyard is located in the Hautes-Pyrénées region, it gives its name to the famous wine.
- Jurançon Wine Route: The Jurançon vineyard provides as much pleasure in taste as it does visually. Nestled in a green and sunny setting, surrounded by the terraces of the Château de Pau and the chains of the Pyrenees, it is idyllic. Three climates clash in the Jurançon vineyard and make it unique.
The Languedoc-Roussillon Wine Route
Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest wine region in France, but also in the world. This area begins west of the city of Nîmes on the Spanish border. The vineyard located between the Mediterranean Sea and the wine-growing slopes provide wines called “Vins de Pays” as well as natural sweet wines.
- Languedoc Wine Route: Languedoc is renowned for its ripe and intense red wines. Rich in heritage, this region offers its visitors a beautiful mosaic of landscapes. Located between the Mediterranean Sea and at the foot of the Pyrenees, the Languedoc region is rich in natural resources. The Mediterranean climate, mild and sunny, will allow you to spend pleasant moments with your loved ones while enjoying a nice glass of wine.
- Montpellier Wine Route: Montpellier is an exciting city in the South of France, where there is no shortage of things to do. From museums, cobbled streets and restaurants bursting with Mediterranean cuisine, you’re bound to find something you’ll love along the Montpellier Wine Route.
- The Corbières Wine Route and Pays de Cathare Wine Route: in the west of Languedoc, between Montpellier and Perpignan, is the Aude vineyard. In this vineyard, you will find the famous AOC Corbières. This appellation extends from Carcassonne to Narbonne but also to the foothills of the Pyrenees and the foot of the Montagne Noire.
- The Béziers Wine Route and Sète Wine Route: going from Béziers to Sète, discover the Hérault vineyard located between the Mediterranean and the scrubland. Discover the different appellations of this region by visiting its estates. If you start your journey in the French city of Béziers, be sure to visit Saint Nazaire Cathedral, take a stroll along the Canal du Midi, and visit the city’s historic center.
- Roussillon Wine Route: the Roussillon region is known for its high quality natural sweet wines. This gigantic wine-growing territory in Roussillon also produces traditional reds, whites and rosés. Departing from the city of Perpignan, you will have the opportunity to observe a diversity of breathtaking landscapes.
The Provence Wine Route
Provence is a wine region in the south of France renowned worldwide for its rosés. This terroir, located in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur (PACA region), is articulated around 8 AOC (appellations d’origine contrôlée): Baux de Provence, Côtes de Provence, Coteaux d’Aix in Provence, Coteaux Varois en Provence, Palette, Cassis, Bandol and Bellet. From the south of Avignon to the French city of Nice, vineyards encompass most of the region.
- Bandol Wine Route: Bandol is a key appellation in the Provençal wine region in the far south-east of France.
- Var Wine Route: by discovering the Var wine route, you will have the ideal opportunity to find the rosé wine of your choice (including Bandol), among the leading producers of rosé in the world.
- Aix en Provence Wine Route: by discovering this generous region, you will have the opportunity to perceive the magnificent wine country around Mont Sainte-Victoire and taste the Calissons of Aix; this area is a foodie paradise with a host of grocery stores. You can then continue the Provençal Wine Route.
- Saint-Tropez Wine Route: The vineyards of Saint-Tropez run along the edge of the Mediterranean and this brings a very distinctive flavor to the wine. The region is particularly known for its rosé wine, but you can also find wonderful red and white wines.
The Champagne Wine Route
The major region of Champagne is divided into 4 parts: the Montagne de Reims, the Côte des Blancs, the Vallée de la Marne, and the Côte des Bar. If you plan on discovering the best Champagne houses from Paris, it only takes about 45 minutes by train or 1:30 hour driving.
Once in Champagne, get to visit Champagne houses in Epernay. The small famous town is surrounded by vineyards, in the vast area of the Marne Valley, around Bar sur Seine and on the hillsides of Vitry. Winemakers blehd Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, and Chardonnay grapes to provide winelovers with high-quality bubbly.
Stroll between the terroirs of the region but also the city of Reims with its Gothic art. Come and discover the diversity of champagnes on offer. The Champagne Appellation of origin brings together world-famous Houses such as Veuve-Clicquot, Moët & Chandon, Bollinger and many more.
For wine lovers or people looking for great walks, Wine Routes are an authentic and original way to discover what lies behind a good bottle of wine. These trails will bring you to places to rest, restaurants, cellar visits or tastings that you can find on Winalist.
Enjoy your discovery!
FAQ & Useful resources
What is the best way to do the Wine Route?
Plan your visits early in the day.
Limit yourself to 4 establishments.
Enjoy your visit.
Taste and drink in moderation.
Expand your horizons.
And most of all: relax!