Whether you’re a beginner wine enthusiast or a seasoned connoisseur, if you’re a fan of France’s famous fizz then you’re in the right place.
Daytrip’s spectacular French wine tour takes you on a journey through the prestigious Champagne region and beyond, where you’ll discover the best booze the country has to offer. From world famous Champagne Houses to fantastic fromageries, wonderful wine cellars and grandiose châteaus; you’ll explore great history, stunning landscapes and quaint towns as you drive the scenic routes through France’s most famous regions.
But first, Champagne!
First things first. What makes Champagne so special? The name “Champagne” cannot be broadly applied to just any sparkling wine, while it may be tempting to use the label as a generic term for a bottle of bubbly. In fact, the rules around this lavish title are quite strict.
When your oenophile friend corrects you for calling Cava or Prosecco “Champagne”, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’re being fussy. But it is actually illegal to label a product “Champagne” if it did not come from the eponymous wine region of France. And it makes sense for them to be so protective. Champagne has been making wine for 1500 years. And when French royalty was crowned in Reims, you can bet they and their guests were drinking Champagne wine.
Beyond the Champagne region, you’ll visit world-famous wineries in Burgundy, Bordeaux and the Loire Valley. With so much on offer, it’s easy to see why France is so popular in the world of wine tourism!
French Wine Tour Itinerary
- Day 1: Paris to Reims (stops in: Meaux Cathedral, Moet et Chandon Champagne Cellars)
- Day 2: Reims to Beaune (stops in: Notre Dame en Vaux, Fromagerie Gaugry)
- Day 3: Beaune to Uzerche (stops in: Saint-Philibert de Tournus, Clermont-Ferrand)
- Day 4: Uzerche to Bordeaux (stops in: Lascaux, St. Emilion)
- Day 5: Bordeaux to Tours (stops in: Château de Villandry)
- Day 6: Tours to Paris (stops in: Château d’Amboise, Château de Chambord)
Day 1: Paris to Reims
Set out from Paris to Reims, the unofficial capital of Champagne. Many of the most famous Champagne Houses are headquartered here, so it’s a great place for tastings and cellar tours.
Begun in the late 12th century, Meaux Cathedral was actually never finished! Take 45 minutes to appreciate the flamboyant Gothic architecture. Along with the gargoyles and traceries pay special attention to the 15th century rose window, and 16th century stained glass windows, magnificent 12th century organ.
Moet et Chandon Champagne Cellars
Your next stop will be the Moet et Chandon Champagne Cellars – the real reason you’re here! Arguably the world’s most famous Champagne House, drunk by everyone from King Louis XV to Napoleon. Visitors are welcomed to learn Moet et Chandon’s history on a tour of their seemingly endless tunnels and cellars. Finish your visit with a champagne tasting session with the Moët et Chandon sommeliers.
You will need to book a tour in advance to ensure your entry will be guaranteed. Click here to view more information on the Moet et Chandon official website.
Arrival in Reims
The City of Kings and Champagne, what’s not to love? The city’s central landmarks are a trio of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The Cathedral Our Lady of Reims is a masterpiece of Gothic architecture and the traditional coronation site of the Kings of France. It is neighboured by the Palace of Tau, once the residence of the Archbishops of Reims, and the St. Remi History Museum.
While the Cathedral is definitely unmissable, it should come as no surprise that some of the best Reims things to do are centred largely around Champagne. So let’s start with Reims Champagne Houses. It will be hard to beat the experience you had earlier in Epernay, but if anywhere can do it, it’s Reims.
Amongst the best are Champagne Pommery, one of the biggest and most grand houses in Reims offering a self-guided tour of its cellars. Ruinart was the very first Champagne House, founded almost 300 years ago. Maison Lanson, a family-owned establishment offering a vine-to-flute experience, is another great option.
If you’re all toured-out, go for some of the best Champagne tasting Reims has to offer. Plenty of the bigger names including G. H. Mumm, Taittinger and Veuve Clicquot provide tastings without tours.
Total trip time from Paris to Reims with stops: 5 hours and 25 minutes
Book a private car from Paris to Reims.
Day 2: Reims to Beaune ⇧
Now that you’ve spent some quality time in the capital of the Champagne region, it’s time for less bubbles and more body as you head to from Reims to Beaune, France’s biggest producer of Pinot noir and Chardonnay.
Notre Dame en Vaux
This elegant Cathedral was constructed between 1157 and 1217. Combining Gothic and Romanesque architecture, the Cathedral is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its ties to the Way of St. James. It’s best known for its 56 bells, holding one of the largest carillons in Europe, which you can see if you climb the tower on your 30 minute visit. In the main church, pay attention to the 16th century stained-glass windows, which tell tales from the Bible.
What’s wine without a bit of cheese? Spend an hour learning about the world of cheese at this family-owned fromagerie. Join a guided tour through the galleries that look in on different stages of the process. The tour is finished with a tasting of 5 Gaugry cheese varieties, paired with a glass of Burgundy wine and bread.
You need to pre-book a tour in advance to guarantee entry. Click here to see opening hours, tour times and make your booking!
Alternate Stop: Dijon
If you prefer your culture less cheesy, stop in Dijon for 90 minutes instead (or additionally). Known round the world for its mustard, the Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site filled with charming half-timbered houses with polychromatic roofs. The flat facade of the 13th century Church of Notre Dame is a standout for its 51 gargoyles. The 14th century Gothic Cathedral is surprisingly austere, and the crypt is one of France’s oldest Christian sanctuaries still open to the public.
Arrival in Beaune
Nestled by the hills of the Côte d’Or, Beaune is a walled city with an extensive old town. It’s a delight for visitors who have a passion for beautiful architecture and fine wines.
Along with wandering the medieval old town, you can also partake in some Beaune wine tours. Patriarche is one of the oldest producers in the region, and is open to visitors for tours and tastings. Likewise, some of the best Beaune wine tasting can be done at Maison Joseph Drouhin. One of the largest producers in town and all organic, their cellars date back to the 13th century.
For a more comprehensive look at vintner history, check out the Burgundy Wine Museum. Finish off the day with some beef bourguignon (and let’s be honest, an accompanying glass of wine).
Total trip time from Reims to Beaune with stops: 5 hours and 20 minutes
Book a private car from Reims to Beaune
Day 3: Beaune to Uzerche ⇧
After some rich indulgence, head out from Beaune to Uzerche. Known as the “Pearl of the Limousin” the medieval town is commonly referred to as one of the best detours in France, thanks to its rich historic heritage and picturesque setting against a gorgeous riverside surrounded by tree covered hills.
Saint-Philibert de Tournus
Stop for 45 minutes to explore this 12th century monastic complex, the last its kind in Europe. Robustly constructed with few windows, the interior is decorated with a 12th century mosaic depicting the zodiac, and medieval frescoes. Also, be sure to head down to the 10th century crypt its rows of sweeping arches and decorated columns. The cloister makes for a delightful walk and feels more like a private park thanks to its trimmed hedges.
One of the oldest settlements in France, Clermont-Ferrand offers visitors two ways to spend their 75 minute (or more) visit. As one of the country’s best preserved towns, Montferrand is perfect for strolling. In Clermont, you’ll find the city’s main monuments, including the UNESCO-listed Notre-Dame-du-Port basilica.
Arrival in Uzerche
A charming town filled with old stone houses, tall towers and quaint cobblestone streets, Uzerche is, quite simply, lovely. The Place des Vignerons square in the upper town is lined with beautiful and intriguing houses that seem to be designed from a fairytale, and a stunning Romanesque church.
One of the best things to do in Uzerche is to discover the towns many striking historical buildings. From the 12th century Roman-style Church of Saint-Pierre and the 14th century Black Prince Tower to the former royal residence Hotel du Sénéchal and the renaissance style Maison Eyssartier, you’ll find yourself gazing in awe at these magnificent and endearing buildings.
Whilst small, you’ll find some nice dining spots in town. So sit back, and take in the medieval charm of your surroundings with a glass of wine.
Total trip time from Beaune to Uzerche with stops: 6 hours and 17 minutes
Book a private car from Beaune to Uzerche
Day 4: Uzerche to Bordeaux ⇧
A short two and a half hour drive from Uzerche will see you arrive in Bordeaux for the next leg of your spectacular French wine tour. Any fan of wine, novice or expert, will have heard of Bordeaux and as a wine destination, it’s hard to beat.
The city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007 and is also named by UNESCO as a “City of Art and History”. Whether you’re there for wine and gastronomy, history and culture or shopping and leisure; Bordeaux has something for everyone.
Lascaux is home to some of the oldest and most important prehistoric cave art in the world. The caves at this UNESCO World Heritage Site are now closed to visitors to conserve them, but you can still experience the paintings that made Picasso say ‘we have invented nothing’ on a 90 minute visit to the cutting-edge museum, which houses an exact replica of the cave.
This wine growing city is one of the most prestigious in the country, though it might not have the same name recognition as Bordeaux or Champagne. Take an hour to discover their world-class Grand Cru wines, and the medieval monuments. The church in particular is unique on the Way of St. James – it was partly carved into the hillside!
Arrival in Bordeaux
Bordeaux is one of Europe’s top destinations for wine tourism, and with good reason – the region produces over 950 million bottles of wine every year!
One thing you must do – and it’s most likely the reason that you’re here – is a Bordeaux wine tour. For an extravagant affair, head to the 13th century Château d’Agassac for a guided tour of the estate. Their themed tastings that are certain to tantalise your tastebuds as expert sommeliers pair vintage wines with gastro delicacies. The Château Pape Clément is another one of the best Bordeaux wine tasting options – they’ve been harvesting grapes since 1252. For a more cerebral look at wine history, the ‘City of Wine’ Museum has 10 hours of audiovisual material celebrating the history of wine around the world.
If you’re wondering what to do in Bordeaux besides sip on wine, the city has plenty to offer. Half the city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, so you can just roam the Baroque streets Victor Hugo described as “Versailles mixed with Antwerp”. The city’s gorgeous Gothic cathedral and two basilicas are also part of the Camino de Santiago French Way.
Total trip time from Uzerche to Bordeaux with stops: 5 hours
Book a private car from Uzerche to Bordeaux
Day 5: Bordeaux to Tours ⇧
It’s now the time to head from Bordeaux to Loire Valley and its capital of Tours.
Château de Villandry
This elegant chateau was the last of the Renaissance residences to be built in the UNESCO-listed Loire Valley. After being purchased by Napoleon for his brother in the early 19th century, it slowly fell into ruin. Restoration efforts have since restored it to its former glory and blessed the chateau with some of the most beautiful gardens in the world. While the fully furnished interiors are a delight to tour, especially for the insights behind the chateau’s restoration, it’s the gardens where you’ll want to spend most of your 105 minute visit.
Arrival in Tours
You’ve arrived in Tours, the gateway city of the Loire Valley! This historic city is the ideal base for Loire Valley wine tours, a region that in its entirety is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site for its stunning chateaus and world-famous vineyards.
Tours might be the largest city in the region, but you’ll still find streets lined with medieval houses in its historic center. Towering over it all is the Flamboyant Gothic cathedral. From the impossibly intricate facade, to a still-functioning 16th century organ, the cathedral is a complete work of art. In one of the naves you’ll even see the tombs of Charles VIII’s children. Walking the city is also a good excuse to sit down to sip some of the Loire Valley’s world-class whites.
If you’re looking for wine tasting, Loire Valley is hard to rival. Cave de Vouvray, with just over 500 hectares of vineyards serviced by around thirty winegrowers, is a hugely popular winery in the region. Go for a tour or simply for a tasting, just don’t miss this great location.
Maison Brédif is the oldest family-owned winery in the area. Here, you’ll be treated to an exclusive experience during a private visit to their majestic, 8th century cellars. The on-site sommeliers pride themselves on providing their undivided attention to each guest, as you are invited to taste the best Vouvray wines.
Book a private car from Bordeaux to Tours
Day 6: Tours to Paris ⇧
After 6 days and 6 wonderful wine destinations it’s time to head back to the “City of Love” as you venture from the Loire Valley to Paris.
Charles VII in seized the estate in the 15th century and transformed it from a medieval fortress to royal residence. Even though much of the chateau was destroyed during the French Revolution, it will still take at least 75 minutes to take in its grandeur. Stroll the gardens and admire the Gothic and Italian architecture, and definitely pay a visit to Leonardo da Vinci’s tomb! You can view more info about the chateau here.
Château de Chambord
Around six times the size of the average Loire valley chateau, King Francis I’s “hunting lodge” will leave you flabbergasted. Spend an hour at one of Rick Steves Loire Valley picks, exploring the 80 ornately decorated rooms. You can join a guided tour, or use the augmented reality app to learn about the chateau’s rich history amongst priceless works of art. You can view more info about the chateau here.
Arrival in Paris
Back in Paris and there’s so much to do! There’s a lot more to Paris than the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower (though you don’t want to miss them!). If you need some ideas, check out our guide of some of the best things to do in Paris.
Total trip time from Tours to Paris with stops: 5 hours and 52 minutes
Book a private car from Tours to Paris
Ready to book your Spectacular French wine Tour?
If all this talk of champagne has got you thirsty for adventure, here are the links to book each leg, which you can customise to your liking. If you need any help, please don’t hesitate to contact Daytrip Customer Support.