It should be no surprise that you’ll find many of the world’s best wine regions in France. France is one of the largest wine producers, second only to Italy. While the French didn’t invent wine, they’ve certainly come close to perfecting many varieties. Some say they have the best wines.
That’s why when you visit France, you must tour the most gorgeous French vineyards and sample wines from the best wineries.
No trip to France would be complete without that!
Below, you’ll discover a dozen vineyards, wineries, and wine regions to add to your itinerary. Then you can decide for yourself if these are, in fact, the 12 best wine regions in France.
CONTENTS – In this article, you will learn all about the regions of France the the amazing wines they produce, including:
- What’s So Special About French Wine?
- Wine Regions, Sub-Regions, and Appellations
- Best Wine Regions in France
- 1. Award-Winning Red Wines in Rhone
- 2. Exotic Reds Among the Rosés in Bandol, Provence
- 3. Champagne – Bubbles in a UNESCO Setting
- 4. Burgundy – Earthy Red Wines & More
- 5. Tour Wolfsberger in Historic Eguisheim (Alsace)
- 6. Sample Rosés and Reds in Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
- 7. Enjoy Riesling in Riquewihr
- 8. Discover Crémant de Loire – A Better Value Champagne
- 9. Bordeaux: One of the World’s Most Famous Wine Regions
- 10: Tour the French Wine Country in Touraine
- 11. On the French Wine Road to Gaillac
- 12. Jura – Where Yellow Wine is All the Rage
- Final Thoughts on French Wine Regions
About French Wine
There are many countries that make excellent wine. Even so, France is held in the highest regard when it comes to wine-making.
What’s so special about it?
Well, the process begins with cool-climate grown grapes. In fact, the French are very attuned to planting the right grapes in the right places to maximize a wine’s unique characteristics.
They call this “terroir.” This word conveys the natural environment in which the wine is produced. As you may know, French wine is grown and produced in some of the most gorgeous French vineyards and enchanting wineries.
And then there’s the 2,000 years of winemaking experience behind French wine.
The end result is:
- A lighter bodied wine
- Earthy nuances
- Less acidity
- A brighter, fruity flavor
- Lower alcohol content than wine from other parts of the word
These qualities make French wine a perfect accompaniment for many dishes or with a charcuterie board of cheese, meats, fruit, and olives.
It also makes a lovely pour to enjoy on its own.
Understanding France’s Wine Regions, Sub-Regions, Appellations
You’ll find several different wine regions and sub-regions in France. Some experts define the five main wine regions in France as:
- Loire Valley
- Rhône Valley
Others identify as many as 17 regions and sub-regions. In addition to the main five above, that includes:
- Armagnac and Cognac
- Beaujolais and Lyonnais
- Savoie and Bugey
Each wine region is known for a certain grape variety, climate, soil, and geographic features that account for the exquisite wine in that region.
Then there are Appellations.
This word describes the wine’s place of geographic origin and quality. It sometimes the style of the wine, too.
When you buy a bottle of French wine, you’ll notice the wine label lets you know which of the 450 French appellations the wine originates. “AOC” stands for Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée.
In addition to the region and appellation, most French wine labels will also indicate the winery, grape variety, vintage (year bottled), and producer and bottler on the label.
In this article, you’ll learn about the best wine regions in France.
Below, we showcase the vineyards, wineries, wines, and other points of interest in 12 of the best wine regions in France. Hopefully, it will inspire your travel and your wine-tasting pleasure.
Because no trip to France is complete without embracing the enchanting French wine culture.
Best Wine Regions in France
It’s hard to narrow down exactly which are the best wine regions in France. They’re all amazing in their own ways.
You can get an idea of which French wine regions you’d like to explore by reading the options below.
1. Sip Award-Winning Reds in Rhône
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Home to popular French towns such as Lyon in the southeastern reaches of France, the Rhône Valley is one of the most classic wine regions in the country.
Known for its exquisite syrah and grenache blends, Rhône lures in thousands of travelers from around the globe each August to October. That’s when the grape harvesting season is in full swing.
With world-class wineries nestled between endless rolling valleys, you really can’t go wrong when it comes to choosing a vineyard to wander. But, if you have to pick only one or two, then the M. Chapoutier and the Domaine de Poulvarel should be high on your list!
Owing to M. Chapoutier’s unique history dating back to the early 19th century and its grand selection of show-stopping wines, it has become one of the Rhône Valley’s most recognized producers.
While you’re there, be sure to sample the 1982 M. Chapoutier Hermitage Velours. Known for its award-winning floral and honey notes, it’s easily one of the best in the region.
In Southern Rhône, the Domaine de Poulvarel is a family-run winery with a passion for contemporary wine production and boasts several award-winning vintage wines. With stunning vineyard views, you’ll be enjoying numerous varieties of wine in style at the Domaine de Poulvarel.
As for famous wines of the Rhône Valley, there is no shortage of excellent reds, whites, and sparkling sweets.
But, the Châteauneuf-du-Pape‘s rich blend of both red and white grapes is a real showstopper that any wine enthusiast should be looking to try.
With stunning landscapes and hospitable locals, you can be sure that a visit to the Rhône Valley won’t disappoint. It’s one of the best wine regions in France. Both wine connoisseurs and those who simply wish to learn the art of wine production can appreciate the delicious wines coming from Rhône.
Conveniently, most of the wineries you visit in Rhône will have both French and English-speaking owners.
However, it’s never a bad idea to brush up on your French before visiting. Getting familiar with the French accent will help you to more easily understand the locals, so your French wine tastings will be both relaxing and informative.
2. Discover Exotic Reds in Bandol Among the Rosés (Provence)
Bandol is a small region sandwiched between Toulon and La Ciotat, in the South of France.
It is very close to La Castellet, famous for the Paul Ricard motor racing circuit. If you are an F1 buff, it might be a nice idea to time your trip to Bandol to coincide with one of the many regular track races.
As a wine region, it is lovely.
You can self drive into many of the wineries with little notice and request a tasting (so long as you buy something). Provence is also the perfect place to enjoy a look at the lavender fields.
Many of the small vineyards have opening times posted on their gates, and you can just enter. The owners are all more than happy to show you around.
Bandol region is dominated by red wine varieties, which is interesting when the rest of the region is so heavily invested in Rose vines. Of course, many small wine producers do also include a rosé range, but Bandol is most well known for its tannin, earthy and exotic reds.
Bandol and the surrounding landscape has a laid back vibe that is unmatched in France. Just up the road in Aix En Provence, there is a very different vibe, with big flashy Rosé vineyards and Michelin restaurants.
Bandol is different.
Bandol is special. So special in fact, there is a limit to the export amount of Bandol AOP produced wines. So it is rare to see them on the wine lists of restaurants in New York or Dubai, no matter how exclusive they are.
There are plenty of small wine shops in the area offering tastings of the harder to reach vineyards.
If you do get the chance to explore this wonderful part of France, try to visit the Chateau Pradeaux. Mind the free roaming goats when you drive in!
3. Drink Champagne – Bubbles in a UNESCO Setting
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Champagne is without a doubt the most famous sparkling wine in the world.
And if you are coming to France to try some of the best wine regions, then the Champagne region definitely deserves to be on your list.
The Champagne wine region is a wine region within the historical province of Champagne, located in the northeast of France.
The two main places to base yourself when visiting Champagne are Reims and Epernay.
Reims is the largest city in this region and Epernay is the town with the famous ‘Avenue de Champagne’ (Champagne Avenue). Both have a train station and can therefore be reached not only by car but also by public transport.
But, if you have a car you might want to stay outside of both, to be surrounded by vineyards and small champagne producers.
Because what many people don’t know is that Champagne isn’t just a popular sparkling wine.
The champagne hillsides, champagne houses, and wine cellars are considered so special that they made it onto the UNESCO World Heritage List!
And for good reasons, because this part of France is beautiful.
If you are planning a first visit to the Champagne region then you should definitely visit at least one of the famous champagne brands and take a tour of their cellars. Veuve Cliquot in Reims and Mercier in Epernay are two popular choices.
Learn about how champagne is made, its history and of course, sample a lot of champagne!
Besides the famous brands, there are many smaller, often family run, champagne producers in this area. And their tours are often more intimate, more personal and show you more of the production process.
Visit at least one of them to see the differences. Bonnet-Ponson is a good option, with excellent tours and, unlike most other producers, they make organic champagne!
And of course there is more to do in the Champagne region besides drinking champagne.
Reims is a nice city with a lot of historic buildings worth visiting and a great selection of restaurants. Just outside of Reims you can find the impressive Fort de la Pompelle, and if you are looking for a cute town to stop in for lunch, then Hautvillers is perfect.
And, it takes only one to two hours to get from the Champagne region to Paris, which means you could easily combine a trip to Paris with a visit to Champagne!
4. Burgundy: Beyond Famous Earthy Red Wine
By Kat Weiss Butler at France Voyager | Instagram.
Located only about 1.5-2 hours from Paris via train, you’re in the heart of one of France’s most famous wine regions: Burgundy. If you’re a lover of earthy Pinot Noir and crisp Chardonnay, then Burgundy is the French wine region for you!
Thanks to its temperate climate, morning sunshine, and a northerly wind that keeps humidity low, the burgundy wine region is a perfect area to grow the often temperamental Pinot Noir grape.
While well known for its Pinot Noir, Chardonnay is also very popular. Burgundy also produces other red and white varietals like Gamay and Aligote.
During a visit to Burgundy, be sure to take a bike tour from Beaune, where you get to bike past vineyards, stopping at a couple of wine houses along the way!
Château de Chassagne-Montrachet Famille Picard is an incredible vineyard to visit. A must-try wine here is the Clos des Barraults Pinot Noir.
After that, be sure to pedal over to the charming village of Pommard, stopping in Domaine Coste-Caumartin for their Les Clos des Boucherottes Pinot Noir. You may just need to bring a few bottles home!
Aside from pedaling and wine tasting in Burgundy, be sure to spend some time in Dijon. There, you’ll enjoy its culinary delights like Dijon mustard, pain d’epices, boeuf bourguignon, and coq au vin.
Also, be sure to visit the Beaux-Arts Museum and explore the old town!
Burgundy is truly a delight for wine and food lovers. Full of adorable towns, rolling hills, and the chance to bike amongst the vineyards, spending time in the French wine region of Burgundy is a dream.
5. Visit Wolfsberger in Historic Eguisheim, Alsace
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Alsace is a region in eastern France, on the west bank of the Rhine. It is a landlocked region and borders Germany to the east and Switzerland to the south.
It is famous for its wines and has been producing wine since the Roman Empire.
Alsace produces many different wines, but the most popular are white wines and sparkling wines. The best-known white wine from Alsace is Riesling, which is made from a variety of grapes that originated in Germany.
The most popular sparkling wine from Alsace is Crémant d’Alsace. It’s made from Pinot Noir or Chardonnay grapes.
The luscious, rich Gewurztraminer is also extremely popular.
One of the most popular wineries in Alsace is Wolfberger, based in the historic city of Eguisheim.
Wolfberger formed in 1902. Like many wineries in France, it is a co-operative where many local wineries join together to pool their grapes under one brand. This helps smaller grape producers sell their seasonal fruit to the co-operative who intern bottles and markets the wine under the one brand.
Wolfberger sources fruit from 420 growers working on about 56 miles (90 km) of vineyards stretching the length of the Alsace from North to South.
The Eguisheim headquarters of Wolfberger is one of the best cellar doors in the region.
As you walk in, there is a small museum dedicated to the history of the brand before entering the retail area and tasting bar. You can happily try any of the wines that Wolfburger make at the tasting bar.
The winery Co-Op at Wolfberger uses 7 main grape varieties to make their well known wines:
- Pinot Blanc
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot Noir
The company makes a large range of signature, seasonal, and grand reserve wines for tasting. Some of the most popular varieties to try are the Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, and Reisling.
Like all modern businesses, Wolfberger has had to adapt to the times by branching out in Liqueurs and Spirits.
Even though Eguisheim is the home of Wolfberger, you will find tasting rooms spread across the Alsace in Strasbourg, in Orschwihr, Gérardmer, Bambach La-Ville, and Colmar.
One great wine cave at Eguisheim is easily accessed when visiting Colmar in under 10 minutes by car. It’s more like a wine experience than a cellar door with staff talking you through the tasting process to the check out.
If you’re looking to visit the Grand Est Alsace Wine Region from Paris a high speed train via Strasbourg is one option while flying into Basel, Mullhouse, Freiburg airport is another.
6. Sample Rosés and Reds in the Revered Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence
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The second largest AOC of the Provence wine region, Coteaux d’Aix-en-Provence covers almost 4200 hectares between the Durance river to the north, and Marseille in the south.
The region’s symbolic tipple, rosé wine, leads the majority of the production here. It’s also an area where the limestone soil creates beautiful earthy red wines too.
White wine is a little harder to come by, although you’ll still find some varieties for fruity white wines grown at the wineries around the area.
While rosé is the most popular variety in the region, you shouldn’t miss the opportunity to try some of the reds on offer at Château Vignelaure. Aged for 18-24 months in oak barrels, and then cellared for a further 2 years before being sold, these blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah are among the best produced in the region.
Also, don’t miss a visit to perhaps the most iconic vineyard in the area – that of Chateau La Coste. More of a destination than ‘just’ a vineyard, you can spend several hours:
- Walking the art a& architecture trail through the vineyard
- Browsing the galleries
- Eating in one of the exquisite restaurants
- Sampling the range of interesting wines grown on site
The region centers around the historical city of Aix-en-Provence. This is a fabulous city to base yourself for a stay in the area, especially if you’re also attracted to the country’s art, history and cultural attractions.
Alternatively, the lesser-known village of Martigues will delight with its canals, colourful houses and seaside and Côte Bleue wineries.
Nearly all of the vineyards in the area have cellar hours where you can simply wander in and try some of the wines. If you’re visiting in the winter months, it may pay to arrange your visits in advance. That’s especially true for any smaller vineyards that may not keep regular hours in the quieter season.
7. Enjoy Riesling in Riquewihr!
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Riquewihr is a storybook hillside village known for delicious white wines and its authentic medieval charm. In fact, it was the inspiration for creating Belle’s village in Disney’s Beauty and Beast.
Located in the heart of the Alsace region of France, it is surrounded by the Vosges foothills and grand cru vineyards.
This has been a prominent wine region for over 2,000 years. The Alsace region is known for producing:
- Pinot Noir
- Pinot Gris
- Pinot Blanc
Renowned for their aromatic wine, which are both rich and refreshing to taste.
Riquewihr is located on the Route des Vins (The Wines Road), which is approximately 170 kilometers from north to south. There are over 1,200 wineries in these French hills, and most of them are charming family-owned and operated businesses.
While in Riquewihr you must visit Hugel & Fils, which has delicious wine and a unique history.
Founded in 1639 by Hans Ulrich Hugel, this winery has been handed down generation after generation. You will notice the family crest located above the doorway from a house built by one of his sons in 1672.
The tasting room is easily accessible in the heart of the village center. It is open daily from Easter to Christmas. Hours are 9 am to Noon and from 1-6 pm.
The 2016 Estate Riesling is a must try on a list of multiple other desirable options. A dry and sophisticated wine, it was locally grown on the steepest foothills with the most multifaceted minerality.
While in Riquewihr, stroll the cobblestone streets and take in the beautiful colorfully painted half-timbered homes and businesses from the 16th century. Check out Dolder Tower located at the end of town, built in 1291. This is the most photographed location in town and has an interior museum that shares the town’s history from 12th to 17th centuries.
8. Discover Crémant de Loire – A Better Value Champagne
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France is famous for Champagne, but many people don’t realise that Champagne is just one of the many sparkling wines produced by France. Crémant de Loire is another (and it’s really REALLY similar.)
The Loire Valley is the third largest wine production area in France and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Crémant de Loire is grown in one area of the Loire, mostly around Saumur and Angers. There are several variants, but the overall specifications are strictly governed.
The French (and indeed the rest of the world) love Crémant de Loire as it’s very versatile. It can be used as an aperitif before dinner, and goes wonderfully with white meat, fish and shellfish. Yet, is also sweet enough to be paired with many desserts.
To visit a Crémant de Loire estate, head to the area around Saint-Hilaire/Saint Florent.
Two of the biggest wineries on the scene are Ackerman and Langlois-Chateau. Langlois-Chateau is owned by Bollinger and Ackerman used to have a royal warrant and supplied the British Army.
The best tip for visiting any winery in the Loire Valley is to use the Caves Touristique. (Caves means wine estate, not a dark cave!) Caves Touristiques has around 350 estates and makes it easier for tourists to find wineries open to visitors and cellar door sales.
If you can, visit Langlois-Chateau. The tours are extensive, staff are incredibly friendly and they offer various guided tours based on your interests.
To guarantee a space, you’ll need to book up as soon as possible. They often sell out months in advance, but it’s well worth the effort if you can grab a spot.
Don’t forget, if you’re driving or motorcycling in France, you’ll need a designated driver. The drinking-and-driving laws are strict!
9. Bordeaux: One of the Most Famous Wine Regions in the World
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Ask anyone to name a wine from France and the vast majority will pick Bordeaux wines. It’s incredible that this relatively small area produces such a huge quantity of one of the most famous wines in the world.
The Bordeaux region produces approximately 45 million liters of red wine each year. That compares to 170,000 liters of white wine, and rose is also becoming more common.
There are plenty of ways to try some local produce, not least being in any restaurant in the area! But, if you’re touring France, enjoy wine and want to learn more about it, the best option is to visit a winery.
However, you might not realize that there are over 6,000 different wineries in the area! Trying to decide which to pick can be totally overwhelming.
Médoc is probably the most famous region, situated to the north west of the city of Bordeaux and runs for about 50 miles.
Broadly speaking, the most ‘exclusive’ wines are the ones from vineyards found closest to the Gironde estuary. Of the five chateaux lucky enough to be granted Premier cru classé status in the Bordeaux area, four of them are in the Medoc area (Château Margaux, Château Lafite Rothschild, Château Latour and Château Mouton Rothschild.)
However, it’s almost impossible for ‘normal’ people to visit these chateaux. They are usually open to professionals only. But don’t let that put you off- there are many many other incredible places for you to visit to sample some wine.
If you want the easiest option, take a guided tour from Bordeaux. This should allow you to visit at least two estates The best part is that they will arrange everything for you, and you don’t have to drive!
If you’d prefer to plan your own trip or drive yourself, then Chateau Palmer is a fantastic option.
Near Margaux, which is in Haut-Medoc, you’ll be able to taste wines directly from the barrel and learn more about how the estate has made wine for
Alternatively, if you’re less picky or haven’t booked up in advance, ask at the local Tourist Office or even your hotel concierge. They will often have contacts to help you find places with availability.
10. Touring the French Wine Country in Touraine
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Located by the meandering Loire river, Touraine is a quaint destination in France for wine connoisseurs.
The name Touraine comes from Turones, a Celtic tribe that once lived here. Winemaking began somewhere in the 6th century under the Catholic church.
No matter what your taste is – white, red, or rose, Touraine has got you covered. White is the dominant variety with a 60 percent share, while Red and Rose account for 22 and 8, respectively.
The whites are predominantly derived from Sauvignon Blanc and Chenin Blanc. While Cabernet Franc, Gamay, and Cabernet Sauvignon grapes are a few of many varieties of grapes used for producing Red and Rose Wines.
Spread over an area of 12,000 acres and stretching from Sologne to the outer bounds of Anjou, the vineyards of Touraine cover numerous communes in the area.
The production and the variety of the grape are affected by diverse terrain and a varying climate. The soil here is dominated by limestone mixed with flint. At places, gravel and sand also mark their presence.
The traveler-friendly winery Domaine Sauvète makes for a great tour. This family-owned winery was established in 1985 and produces fine Vouvray wines. The guided tour of the winery, exploring the vineyards coupled with the tastings make for a fun day tour.
As part of the Loire Valley, Touraine has its share of famous châteaux and castles. Located in the idyllic countryside by the river Cher, the Chenonceau Castle shouldn’t be missed.
Another castle of interest is Renaissance-style Azay-le-Rideau known for its stunning interiors. Walking in the lovely gardens with a backdrop of the river Indre is a true delight.
Spend a day in the city of Tour, the capital of the Loire Valley. The city makes for a great base to explore the Touraine region and beyond. To its visitors, it offers a charming old town, remarkable art museums, and a gastronomic dining scene.
The gem of the central Loire region, Touraine is easily reached by car or train in just about two hours from Paris.
11. On the French Wine Road to Gaillac
By Tan Bang from Travel To Work
Gaillac is a remarkable spot on the official French Wine road.
This picturesque area in Tarn region is home to numerous vineyards lying along timeless castles. The story of Gaillac wine started from 2nd century and it was listed as one of the oldest vineyards in the country.
Some says it was probably the oldest wine area in South-west France.
This well-known wine zone has a wide range of grape varieties ranging from the local Ondenc to Len (local names). It comes as no surprise that you’ll find so many different wines including sweet white, rose, red or even dry white. I
n 1938, the White wines here was labelled Original Controlled, while the red and rose wine got their labels in 1970.
Gaillac is arguably more famous in the Tarn, Occitaine regions but it actually appears very much on Parisians’ dining tables too.
For 3,900 hectares of grape plantation, wine houses are really open for visitors. Even you have such a sophisticated taste, you’ll have something in Gaillac.
When it comes to the tasting issue, it`s recommended to take a Rosé from Famille Balaran. They won 5 medals in Gaillac`s wine competition.
Another wine maker that is also delicious is Mas D`Aurel. Their red wine is very tasteful. They have won gold medal of Gaillac wine for the red in 2021, too.
Gaillac is really a breathtaking area if you want to experience something different in south France.
For first time visit, do not miss exploring the Caya castle, also a museum. Another interesting site is Museum of Raymond Lafage which exhibits a large collection of his art works.
If you fancy unique local experience, wake up early for Gaillac open market. Remember to buy a local-made chocolate, some slice of cheese before you end up in a wine boutique.
A guided walk to Cord Sur Siel is also a very very worthy. This Unesco Heritage site is very charming and characteristic.
12. Jura – Where Yellow Wine is All the Rage
By Caroline from veggiewayfarer | Instagram
France is a country of stars when it comes to wines.
Every region has its own special blend and swears it is the very best of the country. Within the folds of the Eastern France Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region lies the little Jura department, relatively unknown on the French wine scene today.
2,000 hectares of vineyards sprawl across the department, with at their epicenter the little village of Arbois. The Domaine de la Pinte is an excellent vineyard to try some of the Jura’s best biodynamic wines.
They are made according to strict organic farming methods.
It comes as no surprise that the traditional red and whites are cultivated in the region. The Jura region however also cultivated age-old yellow wines. Not for the faint-hearted, yellow wines are best paired with a large chunk of comté cheese to offset the strong aftertaste.
Make sure to keep some room for the regional digestif MacVin or – for the lovers of sweet dessert wine – a glass of Vin de Paille. These specialties can all be tasted when booking a tasting at the Domaine de la Pinte.
The Jura department has many reasons to visit aside from the delicious wine.
It is the birthplace of Victor Hugo, Louis Pasteur and Gustav Courbet. Is a true treasure trove for lovers of outdoor sports and is home to the salty Comté cheese.
This cheese was once made with salt mined in the UNESCO classified, Salines Royales Arc-et-Senans and the Salins-les-Bains salt mines. Both an absolute must when visiting the region.
Explore the Franche-Comté region while basing yourself out of its largest city, Besançon. Getting to Besançon from Paris is a breeze, since multiple trains run daily between the two cities.
Consider renting a car to visit multiple vineyards, whizz around the multitude of lakes and waterfalls, and relax in the region’s extraordinarily quaint villages with a glass of local wine.
Final Thoughts on Wine Regions in France
As you can see, there is something for all kinds of wine lovers when it comes to touring wine regions in France and tasting French wines. That’s in addition to the beautiful scenery of the French countryside and coast, historic attractions, and magnificent chateaus.
Any one of these wine regions in France is sure to leave a lasting impression on you – and perhaps with a taste for fine French wine.
If a trip to France will be your first trip to Europe, you may want to read these planning tips next.