Need something to while away the months until the shooting season begins again? Well, if you're a wine lover then you might like to treat yourself to a few days in France, touring the vineyards. Here are some ideas for a luxury French wine tour through the most beautiful wine-producing regions ...

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Domaine Les Crayères Reims

French wine tour

Where better to enjoy a glass of Champagne…

We begin our wine tour to the sound of popping corks in Reims, the unofficial capital of Champagne. The region is also rich in history and art, boasting four UNESCO world heritage sites and the works of French masters Monet, Renoir and Matisse at its Musée des Beaux-Artes. For the full Champagne experience, reserve at the Relais & Chateaux recommended Domaine Les Crayères. This grand château was the former abode of the noble Polignac family, but is now a five-star hotel with a two Michelin-starred restaurant — and most importantly a wine list featuring over 600 Champagnes.

Recommended by Lonely Planet’s Wine Trails © 2015

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Nearest airport Paris-Roissy

 

 Château de Noizay Loire Valley

French wine tour

Château de Noizay – a Renaissance hotel surrounded by Vouvray vineyards

Travel southwest into the heart of France and you reach the verdant splendour of the Loire Valley, famous for its gloriously steely Sauvignon Blancs. In fact, it’s the largest source of France’s white wines, and the second largest for rosé, not to mention it’s UNESCO world heritage status and Cottin de Chavignol cheese. Château de Noizay, ‘a little jewel in Touraine’, is a Relais & Châteaux certified Renaissance hotel surrounded by Vouvray vineyards. After a day of driving or cycling the Loire’s route du vin, you can also look forward to its outdoor pool and gourmet restaurant.

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Nearest airport Nantes

 

 La Grande Maison Bordeaux

grand maison bordeaux, magrez

Chef Pierre Gagnaire outside Bernard Magrez’s La Grande Maison. Credit: Institute Culturel Bernard Magrez.

A journey south brings you to Bordeaux: the Mecca of French fine wine lovers. Its rarefied atmosphere is becoming increasingly tourist-friendly, with many grand châteaux now opening their gates to visitors — and of course there’s the Cité du Vin: a ‘wine theme park’ that cost €80m to build. To enjoy the best of its vinous and culinary riches, stay at La Grande Maison — a five-star Relais & Châteaux recommended hotel, with its own Pierre Gagnaire Restaurant that was awarded two Michelin stars in 2017. Its rooms are individually decorated with glamorous touches everywhere, from Hermès products in the bathroom to Moissonier furniture.

Recommended by Jane Anson, Decanter’s Bordeaux correspondent and weekly columnist

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Nearest airport Bordeaux-Mérignac


Château de Besseuil Mâconnais

French wine tour

The magical 16th-century Château de Besseuil at night

Or if you’d rather head in the direction of Italy and Switzerland, then Burgundy country awaits. In Mâconnais, the warmest and southernmost of the five Burgundy viticultural regions, stay in the 16th-century Château de Besseuil. Here you are surrounded by the estate’s own vineyards, be sure to try its organic wines made by Gautier Thévenet. The gastronomic restaurant offers all the best regional dishes dishes, Chef Arnaud Lannuel will ‘plunge you into the heart of Burgundy terroir’. For relaxation, you can float on your back in the garden pool and gaze up at the château’s facades.

Recommended by Sue Style, a freelance wine, food and travel writer based in Alsace

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Nearest airport Lyon

 

Château de Bagnols Beaujolais

French wine your

An 800-year old château makes an extraordinary dinner setting…

Directly south of Mâconnais is the region of Beaujolais, famed for it’s garnet-hued wines made from the Gamay grape. The moated Château de Bagnols celebrates its 800-year anniversary this year, but today it functions as a five-star Chateaux & Relais hotel and spa. Named after the year it was built, its Restaurant 1217 offers terroir-driven dishes that can either be enjoyed in the grand dining room or on the garden terrace, with panoramic views of the region. From here, in the picturesque surrounds of Pierres Dorées country, you can follow the Beaujolais wine route through 12 appellations and learn about their heritage and prestigious crus.

Recommended by Sue Style, a freelance wine, food and travel writer based in Alsace

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Nearest airport Lyon

 

Hotel Ile Rousse Bandol

French wine tour

The crystal clear waters of the Rènecros bay

For a place in the sun, dive into the rosé wine heartland of Provence and stay on the southern coast of Bandol, which has more than 50 estates dotted around eight communes. If you have time you can easily explore neighbouring Cassis too, famed for aromatic and citrussy white wines. Watch dreamy provençal sunsets from the five-star Hotel Ile Rousse, a design-led hotel overlooking the crystal clear waters of the Rènecros, with two private beaches to choose from. If that’s not enough indulgence for you, head to its Thalassotherapy spa for a massage or a red algae body wrap.

Recommended by Mary Dowey, who has been a wine, food and travel writer for over 20 years

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Nearest airport Lyon

 

Domaine de Verchant Languedoc-Roussillon 

French wine tour

Domaine de Verchant – a 14-century Languedoc gem complete with spa…

Aside from Provence, don’t miss another of southern France’s spectacular wine regions — Languedoc-Roussillon. Its rich and varied landscapes range from rugged hills, to golden beaches and snow-capped mountains. This is a land of great cultural richness, a place where the sun shines for 300 days a year, and where good food and good wine are considered an essential part of everyday life. Domaine de Verchant, a five-star hotel just outside Montepellier, is well-placed for visits to the northern Languedoc vineyards. The 14-century domaine now benefits from two gourmet restaurants, a spa and no less than three swimming pools — one of which is known as ‘La Plage dans les Vignes’ as from here you can look out over a sea of rippling green vines.

Recommended by Natasha Hughes MW,  food and wine writer, and former deputy editor of Decanter

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Nearest airport Montpellier

 

Le Domaine d’Auriac Carcassonne

French wine tour

Perfect tranquility at a Mediterranean garden poolside in Carcassonne

Moving further west, we finish up in Carcassonne; known for its medieval citadel as well as its wine-growing areas, such as Minervois to the north and Corbières to the south. In fact, its viticulture is as old as its architecture, with many Cistercian abbeys owning their own wine estates, some of which are still active. To get a feel for Carcassonne, why not stay on a former wine estate in the Domaine d’Auriac, now a five-star Relais & Chateaux hotel. Marie-Hélène Rigaudis is the third generation of women to run this old-world abode, along with its in-house restaurant and bistrot. The Mediterranean woodland grounds have delightful gardens, an expansive swimming pool and an 18-hole golf course.

Recommended by Mary Dowey, who has been a wine, food and travel writer for over 20 years

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Nearest airport Montpellier

Written by Laura Seal for Decanter.com