Five Stops Every Wine Lover Needs to Make in France

From breathtakingly beautiful vineyards to a $115 million wine museum, France is the epicentre of the world’s most magnificent wines. With an abundance of multi-sensory experiences spotted throughout the country, Scenic has handpicked the most extraordinary of them all. 
Glance to your left, and now to your right. Wherever you are in France, an idyllic vineyard is often in view. At last count, there were an incredible 27,000 vineyards found throughout this gastronomical masterpiece of a country. In Australia, 14 times the size of France, there are 24,000.
In France, wine is more than merely an alcoholic beverage. It is an art form, boasting a rich history spanning centuries. To really get to the heart of this region’s winemaking, a Scenic 5-star luxury Europe river cruise offers an abundance of experiences that deliver beyond expectation. Here are five of the most exceptional. 

1. Delight in Lillet in Bordeaux

Step back in time to 1872 in pretty Podensac in the Bordeaux countryside, and you’ll have witnessed the moment brothers Paul and Raymond Lillet decided to create France’s first aperitif. Little did they know that two centuries later, Lillet would still be the only fortified wine in France, with it now reaching an iconic drink status in the country. It is the equivalent of an Aperol spritz in Italy. With Scenic, you will be taken through the scarlet red gates of the Podensac winery, where you’ll not only sample the sweet citrusy wine but will learn more about Lillet’s rich history. 

2. Marvel at Cité du Vin Museum, Bordeaux

Overlooking the waters of the Bassin a Flot on the banks of the Gironde is the architecturally unique Cité du Vin, a museum dedicated to wine. Since opening in 2016, costing a momentous $115million, it has become the ultimate destination for wine lovers — not only for the French, but for the whole world. Its shape is inspired by the movement of wine swirling in a glass, inside is a truly interactive experience, with tastings, seminars and a tour. However, the highlight has to be 'The Buffet of the Five Senses' which breaks down every wine aroma so you can finesse your nose. 

3. Stylish Sips at Château de Rayne Vigneau 

One of the most magical estates in France, the Château de Rayne is a masterpiece. Standing proudly above 185 acres of undulating landscape, the sprawling picture-perfect vineyards boast a rich history. For almost four centuries, the 17th century Château de Rayne has created one of the finest Sauternes in the world. With Scenic, you’ll not only enjoy a luxury wine tasting experience but also learn of the traditional methods this idyllic vineyard uses to create its superior crus. For those who like to do rather than purely watch, you can become a picker for the day or simply ride through the grounds on horseback.

4. Explore the Beajoulais Wine Region

Breathtakingly beautiful, the Beaujolais wine region stretches from Mâcon down towards Lyon. That’s just over 70 kilometres of magnificent vineyards, all creating one of the world’s most popular wine varieties. The countryside here is known at La Terre des Pierres Dorées, the land of the golden stones, and is doesn’t take long to realize why. Each picture-perfect village throughout this region sets the stage for limestone buildings, of all shapes and sizes. On your Scenic Space-Ship, we will glide right into the very heart of this region, where you will meet a local vintner to sample some of his best vintages and learn of the history of Beaujolais’ journey to global adoration. 

5. Charming Tain L’Hermitage

If you gaze up from the Rhône River, the village of Tain L’Hermitage is stunning; a labyrinth of cobbled streets, framed by vibrant green countryside and an abundance of vineyards. Here you can sample the famous Côtes du Rhône wines, considered some of the best in the world and a credit to the stone-filled and fertile grounds here. You can pair your glass of wine with chocolate from Cité du Chocolat Valrhona, a museum filled with the finest chocolate in France. 
On your Scenic France river cruise, you can unlock each of these remarkable highlights and so many more. Each itinerary includes Scenic Freechoice activities that you can choose according to your tastes and set a pace that feels right for you. So, whether it’s French food, wine, history, architecture or nature that appeals, the expert Scenic team are there to assist every step of the way – when you say au revoir to France, you’ll leave with vivid, lifelong memories.     

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