France: Raise a glass

France is famous for its snails, bread, cheese and pastries, but nothing is more famous - or more enjoyable - than its delicious, varied and established wines
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The Independent Travel

Everyone has heard of French wine, particularly the reds of Bordeaux and Burgundy and the whites of the Loire Valley, but few people really know "wine France". Just as there are wines for every occasion - champagne for a celebration, fortified Pineau des Charentes for an apéritif, smooth Armagnac to end a meal - so France's 17 wine regions, from Alsace to Corsica, all have something different to offer.

It isn't hard to find your way round the wine regions: many have signposted trails through the most interesting villages. A good starting point is the Route des Vins de Bergerac, which has four itineraries through wine villages, all starting and ending in the town of Bergerac.

Wine makers in every region are happy to receive visitors and talk about their art, usually illustrated by a glass or two of a recent vintage. But if you want an opportunity to learn about wine more formally, then sign up for a short course, such as the one at the University of Wine in Suze-la-Rousse. This is a 12th century château in the Rhône Valley that runs weekend sessions for wine enthusiasts.

And, since no one can - or should - spend all day drinking, there are plenty of other attractions, too. Plan your trip to combine a couple of activities: art and wine, golf and wine, hiking and wine, etc. Or you can join in one of the many celebrations that always seem to be taking place in France's wine regions, such as the arrival of delicious beaujolais nouveau every November. Santé!

FRENCH TOURIST AND WINE INFORMATION

Alsace

www.tourisme-alsace.com

www.vinsalsace.com

Armagnac

www.tourisme-aquitaine.fr

Beaujolais

www.beaujolais.com

Bergerac

www.tourisme-aquitaine.fr

www.vins-bergerac.fr

Bordeaux

www.tourisme-aquitaine.fr

www.vins-bordeaux.fr

Burgundy

www.bourgogne-tourisme.com

www.vins-bourgogne.fr

Champagne

www.tourisme-champagne-ardenne.com

www.champagne.fr

Cognac and Pineau des Charentes

www.visit-poitou-charentes.com

Corsica

www.visit-corsica.com

Jura

www.jura-tourism.com

Languedoc

www.sunfrance.com

www.languedoc-wines.com

Loire Valley

www.enpaysdelaloire.com

www.visaloire.com

www.vinsvaldeloire.fr

www.vins-centre-loire.com

www.vinsdenantes.fr

Provence

www.decouverte-paca.fr

www.vinsdeprovence.com

Roussillon

www.tourismepyreneesorientales.com

www.sunfrance.com

Savoie

www.rhonealpes-tourisme.com

Sud-Ouest

www.tourism.midi-pyrenees.org

Vallée du Rhône

www.rhonealpes-tourisme.com

www.decouverte-paca.fr

www.inter-rhone.com

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