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Your Guide to the Provence Wine Region

Bright blue waves and year-round sunshine draw many to Provence. But there’s much more to be explored and enjoyed in this region in southern France. This sun-drenched region is also well-known for its breathtaking vineyards and wine selections. With nearly 90% of its wine production being rosé, Provence is rather pink. We’ve curated a guide to the Provence wine region along with the best wine activities in the heart of southern France.


Your Guide to the Provence Wine Region

How to Get to Provence

Walking Tour of Aix-en-Provence

Provence is easily accessible by plane and train. You can fly into the Marseille airport, where our drivers can pick you up to whisk you off to a darling Provençal village or to bustling Marseille. It’s also possible to fly into Paris and then take the high-speed train to Provence destinations such as Avignon, Aix-en-Provence or Marseille. From Paris, reaching Provence takes around three hours in the TGV train.

Overview of the Provence Wine Region

Provençal vineyards are filled with white varieties such as Rolle, Ugni Blanc and Clairette grapes, per Wine Folly. Red grapes grown in Provence include Grenache Noir, Syrah and Cinsault. We owe much to the Phocaeans who founded Marseille around 2,600 years ago because they packed grapevines in their suitcases, according to Vins de Provence. So even before Bordeaux and the Loire Valley, the region of Provence was the first to produce wine, per Vins de Provence.

Out of all French AOP rosé wines, Provence produces nearly half of these pink wines, according to the Vins de Provence’s 2022 report. And these Provence rosé wines aren’t just for the French to enjoy. In 2022, more than 61 million bottles of Provence rosé were exported, per Vins de Provence. And one of the largest export markets for Provence rosés is the United States, which imported about 23.5 million bottles of rosé in 2022.

When it comes to top appellations in Provence, you must get acquainted with Côtes de Provence as it’s the region’s largest producer and is well-known for its rosé, per Wine Folly. Some of our other favorites are Bandol, which is particularly known for its reds, and Cassis, well-loved for its whites. 

Another hallmark name in southern France is Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Although not technically in the Provence wine region, this appellation is worth mentioning for its close proximity. Châteauneuf-du-Pape is on the southern end of the Rhône Valley and will charm you with its reds, per Wine Folly.  


Itching to discover the world-renowned wineries tucked between rows of lavender and olive orchards? We’ve rounded up some of our best Provence wine region activities that will have you begging for seconds.

Private Luxury Gourmet Tour to Aix Country

Begin your luxurious tour in the charming town of Aix-en-Provence, known for its moss-covered fountains. Wander its cobblestone streets on a private walking tour and discover the secrets of this city founded by the Romans in the second century B.C. You’ll also find yourself enchanted by its many markets, where your food expert will show you around. Indulge in Provence’s many specialities from its tapenade spreads to calisson candies, honey to cheeses.

After you’ve eaten like a true Aixois, our driver will introduce you to the romantic Luberon Valley, one of the top Provence wine region destinations. During the afternoon, you’ll enjoy a cellar visit of a local vineyard followed by a tasting of three wines. Sip on a glass of the Côtes de Provence appellation with a backdrop of rolling Provençal vineyards in quaint villages such as Lourmarin or Ménerbes. Oh là là !

Private Food and Wine Tour to Avignon Country

Turn back the clock with a visit to the medieval town of Avignon. This charming town is a destination in and of itself with its rich historical significance and ancient architecture. Even more, it’s only a stone’s throw away from some of Provence’s best wineries and vineyards. Admire the Gothic architecture of the Pope’s Palace and see the Pont d’Avignon, a bridge that inspired a children’s nursery rhyme any French child could croon with you. The city boasts exquisite restaurants, but for lunch, we recommend that you stroll its markets to taste the region’s best flavors. Following your authentic meal, our wine expert will meet you to sample several glasses of the famed Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. 

Guided Wine Tour of the Châteauneuf du Pape Appellation

Photo by Eric Masur on Unsplash

After just a short drive from the historically rich town of Avignon, you have some of the best Provençal wine appellations at your fingertips. Your day will begin with a visit to Gigondas as you wander vineyards in this famed appellation. After you sip on a flight of wine, nosh on an authentic dish at a French restaurant in the village. Later, our driver will guide you to another wine tasting with the Châteauneuf-du-Pape appellation. Taste some of this region’s best red and white wines all with a postcard-worthy village backdrop.


Where to Stay in Provence

Domaine de Fontenille
This four-star hotel is located in the lush Luberon Valley and invites you in to a cozy stay in one of its 21 rooms. Savor an authentic French meal made with the freshest ingredients from the hotel’s vegetable garden. Unwind with a yoga class or explore the Luberon horseback during your stay at the Domaine de Fontenille.

Courtesy of Château de Fonscolombe

Château de Fonscolombe
After discovering the wealth of the Provence wine region, rest your head at this five-star hotel. The Château de Fonscolombe will woo you with its 50 elegantly decorated rooms and its manicured gardens just a hop, skip and a jump away from Aix-en-Provence.


Longing to taste the riches of the Provence wine region for yourself? French Side Travel is ready to help you organize a magical trip to savor the best of the Provençal wine. You might enjoy: A Perfect Cultural and Culinary Stay in the Beautiful Provence or Culture and Gastronomy in Provence. Need some help planning your trip?

Your Gourmet Guide to French Regional Specialties

Partake in a culinary journey throughout the regions of France, where each region boasts distinctive flavors and gastronomic delicacies. With 13 administrative regions nestled within metropolitan France, this country is your playground for epicurean delights.

We’re taking you from the snow-capped Alps to the sun-kissed shores of the Mediterranean, displaying each corner of France that offers a tantalizing array of specialty dishes and foods to ignite your senses. Join us as we explore these French regional specialties, inviting you on this luxurious gastronomic adventure.


Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Many know this region in eastern France for its stunning Alpine landscapes, including the majestic Mont Blanc, and for its ski resorts. However, there are many fine wines and culinary delights such as the city of Lyon’s gastronomic scene for you to explore as well.

Indulge in an unforgettable week experiencing the best of Lyon’s unique gastronomy: Luxury Gourmet Week in Lyon

Fondue Savoyarde, French Alps
Credit: Yann Allegre

Regional Specialty: Fondue Savoyarde 

The locals serve this decadent melted cheese dish with bread and cured meats. It is perfect for an après-ski in mountain dining experience in this region. 

Fondue has both Swiss and French backgrounds, dating back to the 17th century. It uses a mixture of cheeses from both countries. Today, a typical recipe requires equal parts of Comté and Beaufort, two of France’s top mountain cheeses, along with an equal portion of Swiss Gruyère.

Ready to hit the slopes? Check out: Ski Vacation in Chamonix


Bourgogne-Franche-Comté

This region in eastern France boasts picturesque vineyards and charming medieval towns. It’s famous for its prestigious Burgundy wines, exquisite cuisine, and scenic countryside. Check out: Wine Tours in Lyon, Dijon & Champagne

Coq au vin, Burgundy

Regional Specialty: Coq au Vin

This classic French dish embodies the rich flavors of Burgundian cuisine. Coq au vin contains chicken braised in red wine, lardons, and mushrooms. The key ingredient is local Burgundy red wine that chefs use to marinate and cook the chicken and to create the flavorful sauce that completes this artisanal dish. 


Brittany

Located in northwest France, Brittany is famed for its rugged coast, ancient Celtic heritage, and delicious seafood. Picturesque villages, historic sites, and vibrant cultural festivals draw visitors to the region.

Regional Specialty: Breton Crêpes

You cannot visit France without having tasted an artisanal classic, crêpes. This specialty, which originated in 13th-century Brittany, is described as thin pancakes, which can be sweet or savory. Crêpes, not to be confused with galettes, are typically made with wheat flour. Top your crêpes with sweet flavors such as Nutella, caramel, fruits, or the French favorite, crème de marron. While galettes, made with buckwheat flour, are typically accompanied by more savory flavors such as ham, cheese, and eggs.

Hungry for more? Check out: Beginner’s Guide to French Crêpes


Centre-Val de Loire

Locals and visitors alike celebrate this region in central France for its majestic châteaux, picturesque countryside, and the iconic Loire Valley, often referred to as the “Garden of France.” It’s a paradise for wine enthusiasts and history buffs alike.

Tart Tatin, Loire Valley

Specialty Dish: Tarte Tatin

Those who have a sweet tooth will want to indulge in this classic French dessert created back in the 1880s by the Tatin sisters. Described as an upside-down caramelized apple tart, this delectable dessert embodies the elegance and refinement of the Loire Valley. It includes all the elements in a perfect treat with a crunchy base, a fruity interior (typically apples, and some sweet caramel glaze. 

Entice your taste buds and discover the true flavor of the Loire Valley: Flavors of the Loire Valley


Corsica

Known for its pristine beaches, rugged mountains, and vibrant Mediterranean culture, Corsica offers opportunities for luxury seaside retreats, outdoor adventures, and indulgent cuisine featuring fresh seafood and local specialties.

Corsica, Fiadone

Specialty Foods: Fiadone & Brocciu cheese

Fiadone, a traditional Corsican cheesecake made with brocciu cheese, showcases the island’s unique culinary heritage and local ingredients. Eggs, lemon zest and sugar are also included in this dish. This regional delight is creamy on the inside and golden brown on the outside.

Brocciu is prepared with goat’s or sheep’s milk and is described as soft, creamy, and sometimes foamy. Nineteenth-century Emile Bergerat French poet once said, “Those who haven’t tasted it don’t know the island”. This cheese has its seasons for the best time to taste it, which is in the winter between December and April. 

Check out: Luxury Stay in Southern Corsica


Grand Est

Rich history, diverse landscapes, and charming towns characterize this region in northeastern France. Grand Est is home to picturesque vineyards, scenic countryside, and the historic city of Strasbourg, home to the European Parliament.

Alsace, Choucroute Garnie

Specialty Dish: Choucroute Garnie

Choucroute Garnie, French for dressed sauerkraut, is a hearty dish symbolizing the France-German culinary influences of this region. The name also hints at its lavishness. This dish consists of sauerkraut expertly cooked with the subtle essence of Alsatian wine, enriched with decadent goose fat, and infused with aromatic juniper. Delight in a lavish array of charcuterie, featuring succulent slabs of pork and a variety of exquisite sausages, all served atop a bed of tender potatoes, ensuring a truly unforgettable culinary experience of this region.

Discover: Gourmet Delights in the Heart of Alsace


Hauts-de-France

Located in northern France, this region is famous for its iconic landmarks such as the white cliffs of the Opal Coast and the historic city of Lille. It offers a blend of cultural heritage, culinary delights, and opportunities for luxury shopping and leisure.

Carbonnade Flamande, Northern France, hauts-de-France

Specialty Dish: Carbonnade Flamande 

Also known as Flemish beef stew, it represents the comforting and robust flavors of northern French cuisine. Carbonnade flamande champions hearty beef cooked with beer and caramelized onions. The sumptuous, glossy gravy and melt-in-your-mouth beef offer a comforting embrace, making it an ideal dish to savor during the chillier months.

Most “Estaminet” restaurants, a traditional type of eatery found in this region of northern France, have this specialty on the menu. They serve hearty, traditional French cuisine with an emphasis on using local ingredients and having an old-world ambiance.


Normandy

We love Normandy for its picturesque coastline, historic sites, and rich culinary traditions. Here you can explore charming seaside towns, sample gourmet cheeses, and ciders, and discover the region’s pivotal role in world history.

Moules Marinères, Mussels, Moules Frites, Normandy

Specialty Dish: Moules Marinières 

An ideal choice for seafood lovers and an essential culinary experience if you wish to immerse yourself in traditional French cuisine. This beloved classical dish involves fresh mussels cooked within a savory broth of white wine, garlic, and herbs. It brings together this coastal region’s delicate flavors of seafood and dairy products. The origin of the Moules Marinières recipe stems from an efficient approach to preparing mussels, highlighting the innate flavors of the seafood to shine through.

Ready to embark on a culinary journey? A Road Trip Through Normandy for Foodies


Nouvelle Aquitaine

Situated in southwestern France, this region is famed for its diverse landscapes, from the sandy beaches of the Atlantic coast to the lush vineyards of Bordeaux. It offers opportunities for luxury wine tours, gourmet dining experiences, and outdoor adventures in the Pyrenees mountains.

Foie Gras, Nouvelle Aquitaine, Bordeaux,

Specialty Food: Foie Gras

Not only is this region famed for wine and amazing landscapes, but also its world-renowned cuisine. There are a few specialties from this region to include the most famous foie gras. This culinary specialty is a popular holiday delicacy in France renowned for its exquisite flavor and velvety texture. Foie gras comes from the specially fattened liver of ducks or geese. According to French law, “foie gras is part of the cultural and gastronomic heritage protected in France.” 

Unique Experience: Gourmet Walking Tour of Bordeaux

You can have the opportunity to embark on a gourmet journey through Bordeaux with our private walking tour. Led by a knowledgeable foodie guide, you can explore the city’s culinary treasures, from artisanal coffee and chocolate to local pastries and iconic specialties. Indulge in 10 tastings, including cheese and wine at the historic Covered Market, culminating in a delightful meal at a renowned bistronomic restaurant, accompanied by Bordeaux’s finest wines:


Occitanie

Occitanie known for its Mediterranean climate, picturesque countryside, and historic cities such as Toulouse and Montpellier is a paradise for wine enthusiasts, offering access to renowned vineyards in regions like Languedoc and Roussillon.

Cassoulet, Occitanie, French Regional Specialties

Specialty Dish: Cassoulet

Cassoulet is named for the dish it is traditionally baked in – a cassole. This hearty stew contains white beans, duck, sausage, and pork, representing the rustic and flavorsome cuisine of the Languedoc region. The cassoulet from Toulouse uses duck confit and French garlic sauces, a delicacy of that area. 


Pays de la Loire

Positioned in western France, this region is renowned for its fairy-tale châteaux, scenic rivers, and charming towns. It’s an ideal destination for luxury river cruises, cultural excursions, and gourmet dining experiences along the Loire River.

French Regional Specialties, Rillettes de Porc
Courtesy of Sarthe Tourism

Specialty Food: Rillettes de Porc

This dish showcases the region’s dedication to artisanal craftsmanship and gastronomic tradition. Pork rillettes, a beloved French lunch or snack, pairs beautifully with crusty bread and creamy French butter, garnished with tender pork and served alongside cornichons. Additionally, rillettes consist of slow-cooked pork or poultry in its own fat, resulting in a flavorful and indulgent dish, much like duck confit, but it is served shredded.


Provence-Alpes-Côtes d’Azur

Situated in southeastern France, Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur is famed for its stunning Mediterranean coastline, picturesque villages, and vibrant cultural scene. It offers opportunities for luxury villa rentals, wine tasting in Provence, and indulgent seaside escapes on the French Riviera.

Bouillabaisse, Provence, South of France, Gourmet Guide, French Regional Specialties

Specialty Dish: Bouillabaisse

Bouillabaisse stands as a quintessential culinary treasure traditionally from the Mediterranean region of Provence. Originating in Marseille, where it holds a very symbolic status, this dish comprises a rich fish soup served with garlic-infused bread croutons slathered with rouille, accompanied by fish pieces and potatoes.

Contemporary Provençal bouillabaisse showcases locally sourced rockfish simmered in a flavorful court-bouillon made with water or white wine, infused with garlic, olive oil, and sometimes saffron. The preparation of today’s bouillabaisse soup follows a specific charter, which mandates that they must cut the fish in front of you. At the Miramar, one of the founding members of the charter, bouillabaisse must be crafted with at least six varieties of rockfish. 


Ready to tantalize your taste buds and embark on a culinary adventure through France? Speak with our experts today to dive deeper into these regional specialties!

Your Guide to the Loire Valley Wine Region

Somewhere in between bustling Paris and sun-drenched southern France lies the Loire Valley. This region of France is particularly known for its hundreds of castles. But its Renaissance architecture isn’t all this French region boasts. The Loire Valley is sprinkled with vineyards, which spread across 220 square miles, per Vins du Val de Loire. From Sauvignon Blanc to Muscadet, from Cabernet Franc to Vouvray, we’re exploring the best of the Loire Valley wine region.  


Your Guide to the Loire Valley Wine Region

How to Get to the Loire Valley

The Loire Valley spreads across a 170-mile stretch. This region is accessible by plane at the Tours Val de Loire Airport. But France’s robust train system is also a fantastic way to explore the Loire Valley. We recommend flying into Paris and then taking a train to one of the larger towns in the Loire Valley such as Tours, Orléans or Angers. If you’re looking to explore wine country, it’s best to have a vehicle in order to best discover the region and its terroir. French Side Travel is able to coordinate drivers and luxury transportation for you during your trip to the Loire Valley wine region. That means you can focus more on wine and less on logistics.

Overview of the Loire Valley Wine Region

Credit: DalGobboM via Wikimedia Commons

With around 50 appellations, the Loire Valley is one of France’s largest wine regions. Nearly half of the Loire Valley’s wine production is white wine; about one quarter of its production is rosé wine, according to Vins du Val de Loire. The Loire Valley also produces red wines and sparkling wines.

Within the Loire Valley wine region, there are several sub-regions: the Central Vineyards, Touraine, Anjou-Saumur, and the Pays Nantais, according to MasterClass

Loire Valley Grape Varieties and Wines

The main grape varieties grown in the Loire Valley wine region include: Chenin Blanc, Cabernet Franc, Sauvignon Blanc and Melon de Bourgogne, per Wine Folly.

When traveling to the Loire Valley wine region, be sure to sip on a glass of Vouvray. This white wine is made with Chenin Blanc grapes and can be found in different styles from sparkling to dry, according to Wine Folly.

If you have a hankering for even more white wine, look no further than a glass of Muscadet, which is made of Melon de Bourgogne grapes, per Divine Loire. This wine region produces more than 10 million bottles of this dry white wine each year, according to Vins du Val de Loire.

If you fancy reds, no need to fret. The Loire Valley will swoon with its Côt grapes in the Touraine sub-region.


Thirsty for more of the Loire Valley? French Side Travel offers many wine activities in this wine region. Whether you’re craving a glass of red Chinon or a flute of Vouvray, we have the perfect tour for you. Here are some of the best wine activities in the Loire Valley.

Full-Day Wine Tour of the Loire Valley

Spend the entire day immersing yourself in the enchanting Loire Valley wine region. Located near the Château de Chenonceau, this domain ferments its wines in troglodyte cellars, or underground caves. Later you’ll wander another winery not far from the Château Royal d’Amboise. Here you’ll stroll its vineyards and troglodytic cellars. Your wine-themed day will also include a deep dive into the Vouvray appellation known for its glossy hue. Speak with the winemakers themselves as you uncover their craft.

Private Domain Tour and Meal in a Troglodyte Cave 

Discover the charming town of Chinon and delve into the local culture in this Loire Valley village. You’ll begin your visit with a trip to a domain as you wander the estate and its wine cellar. Your day will include a wine tasting of two whites, one rosé and three red wines. Your wine tasting will be followed by a gourmet meal either in a troglodyte cave or, if the weather is on your side, along the Vienne river. 

Guided Tour of Vouvray, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Chinon Appellations

With more than 50 appellations to explore in the Loire Valley, it can be difficult to know where to begin. Let us help by introducing you to three of our favorites: Vouvray, Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil and Chinon. Your personal guide will introduce you to three different wineries in the Loire where you’ll discover the winemaking journey. Then wander the underground cellars and sip on a variety of wines produced in the region.


Where to Stay in the Loire Valley

Relais de Chambord
A mere four minutes from the Château de Chambord, this hotel is at the heels of royalty. With 16th century roots, this four-star hotel offers 55 unique rooms, including a boat suite. After a day of castle exploration, you can dine at one of the hotel’s restaurants. We’re certain that you’ll be tempted by its herb-crusted venison at Le Grand Saint-Michel or a café gourmand at Les Armes du Château.

Les Sources de Cheverny
Settle in with a stay at this cozy chic five-star hotel. Nestled between Chambord and Chenonceau châteaux, les Sources de Cheverny will enchant you with its 49 rooms and suites. Be tempted by its wooded suite overlooking the lake and featuring a Nordic bath. After a full day of winery tours, unwind at the hotel’s thermal bath or hammam all with the perfect backdrop of the forest.


Enchanted by the Loire Valley wine region? French Side Travel is ready to help you plan a magical trip to experience the best of the French wine. You might enjoy: The Gorgeous Loire Valley by Bike or Luxury Trip to Paris, Normandy, and Loire Valley. Need some help planning your trip?

Your Guide to the Bordeaux Wine Region

The city of Bordeaux is known for its cannelé pastries and its regal Haussmanian-style architecture. But above all, Bordeaux is synonymous with wine. Named the wine capital of the world, this town is especially known for its red wines and boasts 53 appellations per Wine Folly. From the Left Bank Médoc to the Right Bank Libournais, from Bordeaux Blanc to Sauternais, we’re diving into the world of Bordeaux wines. And we’re breaking down the Bordeaux wine region with its classifications and terroir, plus the best wine activities in Bordeaux.


Your Guide to the Bordeaux Wine Region

How to Get to Bordeaux

Nicknamed “le petit Paris,” Bordeaux boasts beautiful architecture, exquisite restaurants and certainly quality wine. Located in western France near the Atlantic Coast, the city is accessible by plane and train. The Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport offers international flights, and the city is only a short 2-hour TGV train ride from Paris.

Grape Types and Classifications

wine producer | French Side Travel

The Bordeaux wine region utilizes six main grape varieties, per Vins de Bordeaux. The principal red grape varieties include Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. We recommend sipping on wines from the Left Bank Médoc and Right Bank Libournais regions. Bordeaux may be known for its reds, but don’t overlook its whites. The main white grape varieties are Sémillon and Sauvignon Blanc. Be sure to taste some Bordeaux Blanc and Sauternais wines.

There are five established Bordeaux wine classifications such as the Grand Crus Classés en 1855 and the Grands Crus de Saint Émilion.  We owe the former to Napoleon III, who started this classification for Bordeaux wineries following the 1855 World’s Fair, per Wine Folly. Since the creation of this classification, the criteria has barely budged and still remains an important litmus test in the wine world. “One hundred and fifty years after its drafting it remains one of the most authoritative references in the world of wine,” says Dewey Markham Jr. on the Conseil des Grands Crus Classés en 1855 site.

What’s a Cru?

Credit: Photo by Maxime Kirschner on Unsplash

Cru refers to “a great or superior growing site or vineyard, a concept linked to the French notion of terroir,” writes Lauren Mowery in a Wine Enthusiast article. “Soil, climate, altitude, aspect and the right variety create a synergy recognized as a cru.”

Earning the Cru label varies throughout France, but in the Bordeaux wine region, it’s linked to a certain château or domain, not just the vineyard, according to Wine Enthusiast. Regardless of how the classifications define their tiers, the Grand Cru label establishes a mark of quality.


Whether you’re a red or white wine lover, the Bordeaux wine region awaits. We’ve rounded up some of the best wine activities in Bordeaux.

La Cité du Vin

You might be thinking, I’ve already been to dozens of museums. France abounds with museums of all types from art to history, culture to castles. La Cité du Vin isn’t like just any other museum. From its geography to grape varieties, its history to packaging, this wine museum dives into the oenological industry and culture. Whether it’s virtual grape-treading or sniffing different notes, the museum’s different rooms invite you into an immersive experience. Hear from winemakers from multiple continents and learn about the terroirs across the globe. Best of all, your visit ends with a complimentary glass of wine with a panoramic view of Bordeaux. French Side Travel can also secure private workshops for you and your group’s visit to the Cité du Vin.

Guided Visit of a Château in the Graves Appellation

Spend the afternoon exploring one of only a handful properties to be classified in both red and white wines according to the 1953 Graves classification. This domain dates back to the 1700s, and today you can admire its acres of vineyards, which are lined with Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Sémillon grapes.

Indulge in a private tour of this domain as you discover its history, winery and vineyards. After you’ve visited this elegant estate, the chef will prepare you a gourmet lunch with delectable wine pairings. 

Full-Day Visit to Saint-Émilion and Pomerol

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

Delve into the rich wine region of Bordeaux with a private guided tour as you discover the Saint-Émilion, Fronsac, and Pomerol appellations. In addition to tasting the Saint Émilion appellation, you will discover the Saint Émilion terroir as your driver shows you the region and its vineyards. Begin your day with a visit to the château of a Saint-Émilion grand cru classé producer. Learn all about the six generations of this family-run business and explore the vineyards and underground cellars. Later, you’ll enjoy a private tasting featuring Saint-Émilion grand crus, reds from Pomerol, and even a white confidential cuvée.

Bordeaux Grand Crus Workshop

Delve into the world of Bordeaux wines and their gradation techniques. From Saint Émilion to Pomerol, you’ll learn the ins and outs of these world-renowned wines with an oenological expert. Your private workshop will include tastings of three Grand Crus. Santé !

Guided Tour of the Médoc Wine Region

Immerse yourself in the world of the Médoc appellation. Enjoy a drive through the vineyards before you visit two châteaux. The first domain on your itinerary produces Margaux deuxième grand crus and will charm you with its architecture dating back to the 1600s. After exploring this estate, you’ll enjoy lunch in charming town of Pauillac before visiting two more domains.

Wine and Cheese Pairing Workshop

Start your gastronomic adventure in the heart of Bordeaux. This sommelier-led workshop will introduce you to the theory and hands-on activities as you learn how to pair different wines and cheeses.


Where to Stay in Bordeaux

InterContinental Bordeaux
If you’re in search of a regal experience while in Bordeaux, look no further than a stay at the InterContinental. Their 130 rooms and suites could’ve jumped right out of a movie scene; its Opera views, crown moldings and thoughtful decoration are sure to delight. For true wine lovers, we must recommend booking a stay in the Wine Bar Suite. Yes, you read that right: a room with its own private wine bar with Grands Crus by the glass service. Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant also has taken residence in the InterContinental. Book a romantic, chic dinner for two at Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay, where you can feast on a Michelin-decorated menu. You might want to start studying the menu as there are over 500 wines to choose from.

Hotel de Pavie
A bit outside of Bordeaux, Hotel de Pavie is worth the trek. This five-star hotel is located in Saint-Emilion and best be on every wine aficionado’s bucket list. Hotel de Pavie has worn many hats over the years: convent, dance hall and hotel restaurant. No matter your style, this hotel has a variety of rooms and suites located in their Bell Tower, Village and Suite houses. Enjoy a meal at Chef Yannick Alléno’s La Table de Pavie. This Michelin-awarded chef will tempt you with his caviar paired with a smoky eel sauce or roasted pigeon paired with a walnut purée. But the likelihood is that you came to Bordeaux for the wine. This hotel restaurant’s sommelier is here to help you. You can opt for a food and wine pairing with a variety of different wines.


Learning about the Bordeaux wine region making your thirsty for a glass of red? French Side Travel is ready to help you plan the perfect trip to experience the best of the French wine industry. Check out our Guide to French Wine. Here are some itineraries we think you might enjoy: A Road Trip Through Bordeaux and Dordogne’s Nature and Wine Country or The Essence of Bordeaux and it’s Region. Need some help planning your trip?

The Beginner’s Guide to French Wine

Rouge, rosé ou blanc — if only it were that simple! With more than 3,000 wines crafted in France, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin. From sunlight to temperature, barrel storage to grape variety, there’s so much that goes into the creation of what goes into a wine glass. And within a country as diverse as France, each of its dozen or so wine regions offers a unique taste and perspective on this timeless beverage. We’re going back to the basics of winemaking with our beginner’s guide to French wine and our favorite wine activities.


The Beginner’s Guide to French Wine

History of Wine

wine cave | wine tasting | Wine Tour

Grape fermentation is nothing new; in fact, it can be traced all the way back to 4000 B.C. Along with many mentions of wine in the Bible, evidence has been found in Egyptian records mentioning winemaking from 2500 B.C., according to Britannica. Since then, wine has grown to many corners of the globe. In France, the retail wine industry generated 4.64 billion euros in 2021, according to Statista. On average, the French drink 47 liters of wine per capita.

Red, Rosé or White

The three main categories of wine are fairly straightforward and can be found across wine regions in France. But within these categories, the possibilities abound, considering that there are more than 10,000 existing grape varieties.

Several popular grape varieties often used in red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Pinot Noir and Syrah, per Food & Wine. Bordeaux is particularly known for its red wines.

Among many others, white wine grape varieties include Chardonnay, Riesling, Muscat and Sauvignon Blanc, according to USA Wine Ratings. The wine regions of Alsace and Loire Valley are well-known for their white wines, per .

Unfortunately, pink grapes don’t exist yet! In order to achieve that gorgeous rosé color, winemakers must have the red grapes’ skins touch wine but not for long, per Wine Folly. “Where some red wines ferment for weeks at a time on red grape skins, rosé wines are stained red for just a few hours,” according to this Wine Folly article. For a crisp glass of rosé, we recommend heading to Provence or the Riviera.

AOP: Is This Wine Legit?

old cellar of winery, in Burgundy

Not all wines are created equal. And that’s why France and Europe have adopted the AOC and AOP labels respectively, according to the Ministry of Economy. In short, these labels are stamps of authenticity. So many foods, beverages and local products are based on tradition, geography and heritage. And this label seeks to protect the genuinity of these products. For example, a sparkling white wine cannot be called champagne unless it’s produced in the Champagne region of France.

In France, there are more than 400 registered AOP labeled wines. As you’re browsing wine labels, keep your eyes peeled for the AOC or AOP label to ensure that it’s legit.

French Wine Masters: Sommeliers

It’s clear that wine isn’t just any beverage. The wine industry demands expertise on many factors: grape varieties, tannins, age, region, climate. Enter sommeliers, or trained wine experts. The sommelier or sommelière is responsible for understanding the different types of wines and liquors. They often work in Michelin-starred restaurants or wine bars and guide diners in their wine choice and pairing, per Onisep. France has specific studies and diplomas based on sommellerie, but there are different levels of sommeliers, such as commis sommelier and chef sommelier. 

Within the global wine industry, there are several covetable certifications with two being: Master of Wine and Master Sommelier. “The Master of Wine program is more academic as compared to the Master Sommelier program,” says master sommelier Mathias Camilleri in a Michelin article. “The Master Sommelier program focuses on the dining experience in restaurants and trains sommeliers to understand, recommend and serve the guests in the most optimal conditions.” 

Regardless of the MW or MS titles, both require multiple exams, which prove to be no easy feat. It takes a minimum of three years to earn the Master of Wine certification, and only 417 people have earned this title since its inception in 1953, according to the organization’s site. There are four levels to becoming a master sommelier. Fewer than 300 people have earned the MS title since the creation of the Court of Master Sommeliers in 1969, per CMS.


With wine harvested all across France, there’s much to be explored and tasted in the French wine industry. French Side Travel offers a smorgasbord of wine-related activities and would be delighted to organize your trip. Here is just a smattering of our favorite wine activities in France:

An Evening of Rosé Tasting Paired with Nice Street Food 

Spend the soirée with a sommelier and cookbook author as you discover the refreshing rosé wines produced in Provence and the French Riviera. Taste several types of rosé and pair them with local street food. Bon appétit !

Wine Harvest Morning 

person cutting grapes from vineyard

Roll up your sleeves because this activity will put you to work as you discover the intricate wine-making process. Grab your boots and some pruning clippers, and head out to the vineyards where you’ll pick from the vines. Then return to the cellar and discover how they will be fermented and transformed.

Picnic at Château des Jacques 

Savor a glass of French wine in the midst of its terroir. Spend the afternoon over a picnic at the Château des Jacques, which is located in the Beaujolais region. Snack on sausages, bread, fruit and, of course, a bottle of Beaujolais.

Bordeaux Grand Crus Workshop

summer highlights in the bordeaux region

Delve into the world of Bordeaux wines and their gradation techniques. From Saint Émilion to Pomerol, you’ll learn the ins and outs of these world-renowned wines with an oenological expert. Your private workshop will include tastings of three Grand Crus. Santé ! Check out our Guide to the Bordeaux Wine Region.

Private tasting at Philippe Le Bon Tower 

city Dijon and its church

Located in the Burgundy wine region, Dijon is home to the Philippe le Bon tower. Enjoy the panoramic views of this town from this tower as you sip on a glass of white from the Domaine de la Cras. Your exclusive evening will also include a sampling of apéritifs and appetizers.

Where to Stay in France

Hotel Villa La Coste in Le Puy-Sainte-Réparade
Calling all wine lovers and art aficionados. Hotel Villa La Coste is a luxury hotel in Provence boasting five stars and 28 villa suites. You could spend hours wandering this luxury hotel grounds with its spa, library, vineyard, bar and restaurants. The hotel is situated in the Château La Coste domain, which also boasts various art exhibitions. We’re sure you’ll be tempted by its Pool Villa Suite, complete with a private patio and pool. This luxury hotel also offers an art and architecture tour and wine tasting during your stay.

Les Sources de Caudalie in Bordeaux
Tucked south of Bordeaux, les Sources de Caudalie is a five-star palace hotel located in the Château Smith Haut Lafitte vineyards. Escape from the city center with a stay in one of these 61 rooms and suites in Martillac. You can’t miss a visit to its Vinothérapie Spa where you can enjoy a Crushed Cabernet scrub. Not only will you drink well, but you’ll also dine well at its Michelin-starred restaurant La Grand’Vigne.


France’s various wine regions offer an array of activities to be savored and enjoyed. French Side Travel is ready to help you plan the perfect trip to experience the best of the French wine industry. You might enjoy: Burgundy’s VIP Wine Tour Experience or Luxury Gourmet & Oenological Trip to Beautiful Provence. Need some help planning your trip?

Your Alsace Christmas Markets Guide

No matter the season, visiting the region of Alsace means stepping into a fairytale. The wood-paneled homes, lush vineyards and quaint cobblestone streets make you feel as if you’re living in another era. But visiting Alsace during the wintertime takes it a step even further as you experience their famed Christmas markets. If you love all things Christmas, a trip to Alsace during the winter is a must. You’ll be able to discover these historic markets and explore this region’s heritage, too. At French Side Travel, we’re sharing our Alsace Christmas markets guide. 


Your Alsace Christmas Markets Guide 

How to Get to Alsace

Alsace is a region in northeastern France, near Germany. You can reach Alsace by flying into Strasbourg or flying into Paris and taking the high-speed train to Strasbourg or Colmar. Our team would be happy to handle airport pickups so that you can focus on exploring the Christmas markets.

strasbourg gourmet tour

Christmas Market Tradition

Christmas markets might seem like a 21st century invention, but these Alsatian markets are synonymous with rich, regional tradition. In 1570, the Christkindelsmärik tradition began in Strasbourg. During November and December, Christmas markets can be found all over France and even Europe. But there’s something special about visiting the markets in Alsace, especially the towns of Strasbourg and Colmar. And we’re not the only ones who think so; these Strasbourg markets attract nearly 2 million visitors annually, according to its tourism office.

Strasbourg Christmas Markets

At the Strasbourg Christmas markets, you’ll be able to explore the different stands as you sip on some mulled wine or chocolat chaud. Be sure to pass by Place Broglie, where these Christmas markets first began in the 16th century. You’ll also want to snap a selfie with the 30-meter Christmas tree (nearly 100 feet) on Place Kléber Square. Admire the bright lights contrasting the night sky and take your time searching for the perfect treasures to put under the tree.

Colmar Christmas Markets

Credit: Unsplash

About an hour’s drive from Strasbourg, the village of Colmar is smaller but enchanting all the same. Get lost in this town’s various Christmas markets. Foodies best stop by Colmar’s Gourmet Market and nosh on Alsatian favorites. If you’re looking for a unique addition to your tree, be sure to visit the Christmas balls of Meisenthal market. You can also swing by the market at Place Jeanne d’Arc to buy gingerbread, foie gras and other goodies.

More Activities in Alsace

We’re certain you could spend days enjoying the Strasbourg and Colmar Christmas markets, but while you’re in Alsace, there’s plenty more to explore. Here are some of our favorite activities to enjoy during your trip to Alsace.

Alsace Food and Wine Tasting Tour

The region of Alsace has much to be seen and tasted. What’s better than a private food and wine tour to truly get to know the region? We’ll organize a tour of Colmar where you can wander through its Petite Venise neighborhood. You’ll enjoy an intimate boat ride as you sip on a glass of Alsace Crémant. You’ll taste some of the region’s best wines all while enjoying beautiful views of the region, including the Haut-Koenigsbourg castle.

Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg

Strasbourg’s Christmas markets have been around for a while in Alsace, but the town’s cathedral goes back even further. This cathedral dates back to the 1000s. Be amazed by its majestic Gothic architecture and its intricate stained glass windows.

Le Marché Couvert de Colmar 

When visiting France, eating well is a given. And during your visit to Colmar, you must take a stroll through its covered food markets. Here you can sample local cheese, cider, wine, honey and gingerbread. Be sure to try one of the region’s famed bretzels, or hot pretzels, whether plain or covered in melted cheese.

Where to Stay in Alsace

Hotel Regent Petite France

Nestled on the banks of the river in the historic ‘Little France’ district of Strasbourg is this beautiful 5-star hotel. With the building dating back to the 1600s, this luxury hotel is the epitome of elegance, charm and sophistication. When you’re not relaxing in one of Hotel Regent’s 75 rooms and suites, the rest of the hotel has much to offer. Head over to Bar Champagne to sip on a glass of the best bubbles from Bollinger to Veuve Clicquot. If you’re looking for a twist, order one of its champagne cocktails. You can also feast on an Alsatian hot dog topped with ketchup, mustard and fried onions. Stop by the spa and book a Chocolate Wrapping session, a de-stressing treatment that resembles chocolate mousse.

La Maison des Têtes
This five-star hotel in Colmar has 21 luxurious rooms where you can rest after a full day of exploration. We’re sure you’ll fall in love with one of their Character rooms, looking onto the courtyard and boasting wooden beam-laced ceilings. Start your day with the hotel’s breakfast where you can nibble on bread from nearby Kaysersberg and Gugelhupf, a regional cake. Make dinner reservations at the hotel’s restaurant, Le Girardin. This Michelin-starred establishment prides itself in minimalism from the decor to the size; there are only 14 tables. Bon appétit !


Wishing that Christmas could be here in the blink of an eye so that you can explore Colmar and Strasbourg Christmas markets? Us too! Be inspired by some of our top winter tours: Winter Trip to Courchevel with Half Board and 5-star Ski Vacation to Chamonix and the Mont-Blanc Valley. We’re ready to help you plan the most magical trip.

Need some help planning your trip?

Your Luxury Itinerary for Ramatuelle, France

Sandy beaches, stunning vineyards, exquisite gastronomy. Just a short drive from Saint Tropez, the village of Ramatuelle, France, is sure to enchant you. With proximity to downtown as well as untainted nature, the Gulf of Saint Tropez is the perfect destination for both luxury and outdoor lovers. Whether you dream of strolling quaint villages or eating at Michelin-starred restaurants, biking through vineyards or shopping for luxurious threads, a vacation in Ramatuelle, France, is for you. Here’s how to spend your vacation in Ramatuelle, France.


Your Luxury Itinerary for Ramatuelle, France

How to Get to Ramatuelle

The best way to get to Ramatuelle, France, is flying into the Nice or Marseille airports. From there, we can pick you up and drive you to this charming part of France. It’s imperative to have car access for your trip to Ramatuelle as its sights and attractions aren’t all located nearby.

Explore downtown Ramatuelle

Credit: Round Trip Travel

Wander through this southern French village of 2000 inhabitants. Unlike its neighbor Saint Tropez, the village of Ramatuelle is much calmer. You can sip on a café au lait and munch on a croissant as you imagine all the history that has been lived in this town since the 11th century. Later, you can stroll past its Église Notre Dame, whose tower dates back to the 1300s and allowed villagers to spot imminent dangers from afar. You can also appreciate sea views as well as swaths of forests from this quaint village. 

Wine Tasting in the Gulf of Saint Tropez

Given its prized position amidst many vineyards, it would be a pity to visit Ramatuelle without a wine tasting. Our oenological expert will take you on a tour of two wine estates in the AOP Côtes de Provence and explain the ins and outs of the terroir.

Kick back on Pampelonne Beach

Credit: Round Trip Travel

Ramatuelle is best known for its Pampelonne Beach, where you can admire the crystal blue water. Whether it’s lying out on a transat or building sand castles with your little ones, a day at Pampelonne Beach is essential. Beach restaurants and clubs line the stretch meaning you needn’t wander far for refreshments. During its summer season from May to October, we recommend dining at Loulou. Sip on a Ramatuelle Spritz, marked by champagne, rosé, peach and strawberry. Nosh on its sea bass carpaccio or truffle tagliatelle. The restaurant also has its own private beach, which means you can waffle between dining and beaching in a cinch. 

Private Dining in the Gulf of Saint-Tropez

Saint Tropez, city in France

Dinner with a view, that’s the dream, right? But what if we told you that you could have the views all to yourself? French Side Travel can organize a private dinner overlooking the Gulf of Saint Tropez. And the best news: it’s all yours. You’ll enjoy a gourmet meal in total tranquility.

Private Visit, Wine Tasting and Lunch at Château Saint Martin

Only 40 kilometers north of Saint Tropez, Château Saint Martin is worth the trek during your time in Ramatuelle. Your guide will show you the domain and explain the intricate craft of winemaking. You can’t go wrong with a glass of wine, but we recommend you sip on one of their specialties: vin cuit de Provence, a Porto-style beverage, or marc de Provence, alcohol distilled from its grape stalks.

Your domain visit will be punctuated with a gourmet meal as well as chocolate and cheese tastings. We can organize car service for your trip to Château Martin, but the domain can also be reached by helicopter. 

Where to Stay in Ramatuelle

La Réserve

Step into a world of luxury with a stay at this five-star hotel. You’ll fall in love with this modern design marked by its “arty chic spirit pervading the Côte d’Azur of the 1950s,” according to its site. Stay in one of its secluded villas with a private pool and sea views. Don’t skimp on meals while staying at La Réserve: feast on Michelin-starred Eric Canino’s meals at La Voile all while admiring the sea.

Villa Marie
Nestled somewhere between Saint Tropez and Pampelonne Beach, this five-star hotel is a paradise waiting to be tasted. Marked by its vintage accents, this boutique hotel’s 45 rooms will entice you with its cozy yet regal setting. We have a feeling you’ll fall for its Dolce Vita Restaurant with a terrace surrounded by trees and giving views to the Mediterranean.


Packing your bags already for a stay in dreamy Ramatuelle? Be inspired by some of our top tours: The Best of The French Rivieras History and Culture in a Week, A Romantic Trip to the French Riviera and A Unique Wine and Food Excursion to the French Riviera. We’re ready to help you plan the trip of a lifetime.

Need some help planning your trip?

Best Hotels in Bordeaux

Bordeaux’s wine labels only tell part of the story. This region of France does indeed boast rich vineyards and terroir, but there’s even more to taste in Nouvelle Aquitaine beyond the table. Located in western France and not far from the Atlantic Ocean, Bordeaux is a vibrant city with charming architecture and fascinating history. During your trip to Bordeaux, we’ll organize exquisite wine tours and tastings, and we’ll invite you to explore the depths of this part of France. We’re rounding up some of the best hotels in Bordeaux so that your trip is a dream from the first bite to the last sip.


Best Hotels in Bordeaux

How to Get to Bordeaux

The city of Bordeaux is directly accessible through its Bordeaux-Mérignac Airport, where one of our drivers can pick you up. You can also arrive by high-speed train at the Bordeaux Saint Jean train station from Paris in a little over two hours.

Hotel des Quinconces

This five-star hotel promises both prestige and intimacy. Having served as the consulates of England and the United States, the hotel boasts an intricate history. You might even discover one of its secret hatches! With only nine rooms, each has its own flavor and name, such as Laurel or Kinmokusei. We’re certain that you’ll feel cozy in the Jatoba room’s king-sized bed surrounded by chimneys; you’ll be tempted by its luxurious bathtub, too. Decades ago, this very room served as the reception room for the Consulate to the United States during the Cold War.

Enjoy the hotel’s quaint gardens and order a drink at its Xanadu lounge. A patron of the arts, the hotel also showcases local artists’ exhibitions and invites guests to admire. Hotel des Quinconces is the perfect spot for a cozy, romantic getaway as you explore the region of Bordeaux.

Hotel de Pavie

A bit outside of Bordeaux, Hotel de Pavie is worth the trek. This five-star hotel is located in Saint-Emilion and best be on every wine aficionado’s bucket list. Hotel de Pavie has worn many hats over the years: convent, dance hall and hotel restaurant. No matter your style, this hotel has a variety of rooms and suites located in their Bell Tower, Village and Suite houses.

Enjoy a meal at Chef Yannick Alléno’s La Table de Pavie. This Michelin-awarded chef will tempt you with his caviar paired with a smoky eel sauce or roasted pigeon paired with a walnut purée. But the likelihood is that you came to Bordeaux for the wine. This hotel restaurant’s sommelier is here to help you; you can opt for a food and wine pairing with a variety of different wines.

Private wine workshop on Bordeaux Grand Crus

Every glass of wine has a story. From the type of grape to climate, the winemaking process is incredibly intricate. Perhaps you’d like to understand more about what goes into making world-renowned wines. We can organize a private workshop with an oenological specialist who can explain the techniques behind appellations such as Saint Emilion and Pomerol. And don’t worry: you’ll get to sip on several Grand Crus, too!

InterContinental Bordeaux

If you’re in search of a regal experience while in Bordeaux, look no further than a stay at the InterContinental. Their 130 rooms and suites could’ve jumped right out of a movie scene; its Opera views, crown moldings and thoughtful decoration are sure to delight. For true wine lovers, we must recommend booking a stay in the Wine Bar Suite. Yes, you read that right: a room with its own private wine bar with Grands Crus by the glass service. 

Celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant also has taken residence in the InterContinental. Book a romantic, chic dinner for two at Le Pressoir d’Argent Gordon Ramsay, where you can feast on a Michelin-decorated menu. You might want to start studying the menu as there are over 500 wines to choose from.

Private Full-Day Boat Tour in Arcachon Bay + Oyster Tasting

Only an hour’s drive away from Bordeaux, the town of Arcachon offers an entirely different landscape. Arcachon is home to Europe’s largest sand dune. From this town, we’ll pick you up for a boat tour on your very own pinasse, or fishing smack. You’ll be able to experience the Cap Ferret peninsula. If you fancy some fresh oysters, we’ll organize a meal with a local farmer. Bon appétit !

La Maison Bord’eaux Hotel

Don’t let the modern decoration at La Maison Bord’eaux Hotel fool you; this four-star boutique hotel has roots dating back to the 1700s. At that time, it served as un relais de poste, or a place to change horses. This hotel offers a much cozier experience with its 21 rooms. We have a feeling you’ll be tempted by the Deluxe Whirlpool & Terrace Room. At the hotel, you can also enjoy your glass of wine and learn more about what you’re drinking on the hotel’s iPads.

The region of Bordeaux beckons with its impressive wine culture. But beyond your glass of wine, this part of France has much exploring to be done. And with a stay at one of the best hotels in Bordeaux, you’re sure to have both a tasteful and comfortable experience.


Already packing your bags for a stay at one of these best hotels in Bordeaux? We totally get it. And we’re more than happy to organize your stay as well as your visits during your trip to Bordeaux. Be enchanted by Food and Wine Lovers Tour of Paris and Bordeaux, A Luxury Escape to Bordeaux and our The Essence of Bordeaux and it’s Region.

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