It doesn’t take a lot of convincing to get travellers to step outside the city limits of Paris and explore the famous French countryside. Over the years they have played host to tons of iconic artists, poets and it makes sense why. Rural France offers visitors a unique landscape and colour palette that is charming, classic and romantic all at the same time. A day trip is one thing, but if you can, try backpacking through the countryside where you’ll get up close and personal with the different regions and specialities of France—namely, their vineyards and award-winning wineries.
Since the beginning of bubbly beverages the name “champagne” has been synonymous with celebrations and enjoying the good life. So, it’s only appropriate that a trip to Champagne be a non-stop celebration of great wine and great food. The Champagne region of France is a mere 1.5 hrs drive outside of Paris and while you are backpacking around the area, you will find this is a superb starting point for your tour of rural France.
On your tour of Champagne, be sure to visit the best producers like Veuve Cliquot, Ruinart, or Moet et Chandon where their immaculate and immense cellars are open for tours. If you are lucky, when you stop in you may even be able to meet with a winemaker for a quick view of the complex process it takes to make Champagne. Nearby are Alsace and Burgundy to help you on your wine-loving way.
It’s hard to pinpoint one winery or one region that is more beautiful than the rest in France because each region is so unique but, in Rhone, they truly have some of the most spectacular vineyards in all of France. Vines are in your line of vision as far as the eye can see and they are only broken up by olive groves and stunningly purple lavender fields; not to mention, the vineyards are more often than not perched at the edges of impossibly steep slopes and hills which adds to the drama and flair of the landscape. Northern Rhone is responsible for where exceptional Syrah and Viognier wines are produced.
Further south you’ll find the red-tiled roofs of Provence. Here, you’ll be able to explore the famous appellations of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cotes du Rhone at some of their finest estates including Chateau de Beaucastel and Chateau de la Nerthe. Paired with local Provencal cuisine, it’ll be hard to beat this pairing of fresh and delicious tastes.
Known for its majestic royal chateaux and great red and white wines, the Loire Valley is a favourite destination for wine lovers visiting France. Visiting the royal castles such as Chenonceau, Chaumont or the impressive Chambord Castle is like taking a walk back into the greatest moments of France's history. The Loire Valley boasts a large variety of fine wines - red, white, sparkling and dessert - and you'll taste the best of them at the finest producers of Vouvray, Chinon, Bourgeuil, Savennieres, or Coteaux du Layon.
As any sommelier will tell you, “terroir” or the way a particular climate, soil and aspect can affect the taste of wine, is a very important part of tasting wines. Even if you aren’t familiar with the theory, by the time you are through backpacking your way through Burgundy, you will be well-versed in the importance and differences that terroir can make. As one of France’s most prestigious wine regions you’ll discover the subtle relationship between land, sun and vine that creates an incredibly diverse flavour in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grapes. Pair these tastings with the rich culture of the region and you’ll hit all the highlights of Burgundy, France.
Pack your bag and your wine tasting guide and get ready for an excursion through the countryside of France where vineyards and more prosper and thrive around every corner. You are guaranteed to learn a lot, taste a lot of new things and get to know the infamous French wine country better than most with your feet-to-pavement approach to touring the regions. Protect your trip and stay under budget with a cheap travel insurance plan from Cover-More Australia.
Image courtesy of Flickr user Joe deSousa.