There are dozens of routes both large and small known as wine trails that weave throughout the countryside of France. From Bordeaux to Champagne to Burgundy, Beaujolais or Aquitaine, the Alsace Road is considered the first of these roads, designated so more than 50 years ago.
Located on the hills, the vineyards of Alsace are sheltered by the Vosges Mountains and therefore receive a lot of sunshine. From Marlenheim to Thann, drive through 67 municipalities and very flowered villages, all with interesting historical backgrounds. Along the way, enjoy timbered houses, ramparts, castles and old churches. This 170-kilometer road provides access to 38 smaller wine trails through the vineyards. Those routes lead travelers to properties, where you can taste, and cities with great views such as Riquewihr, Ribeauville, Colmar and the Haut-Koenigsbourg Orschwiller.
Also well known are the Bordeaux wines. The red one is the most popular in this area, they also produce dry or sweet white and rosé wines. With the Atlantic Ocean nearby, the 120,000 hectares of Bordeaux vineyards enjoy a temperate climate. Here there are five main roads.
The Castle Road takes visitors to the Médoc, between the north of Bordeaux and the Pointe de Grave. That is where you find the Grands Crus and a lot of crus bourgeois, including Pauillac, St. Estephe, St. Julien, Margaux. The Heritage Route is east of Bordeaux on the right bank of the Dordogne. It is the home of Saint-Emilion, Côtes de Castillon and Cotes de Francs. Take the time to stop at the medieval village of Saint-Emilion, a World Heritage site dating back to prehistoric times. Another one of the trails is the Road of Coteaux, which is more north in this region and crosses the côte de Blaye and Bourg. The Route of the Graves is near the Landes in the southwest of Bordeaux. Here you will find reds and famous whites such as Cérons, Barsac and Sauternes. Lastly, the Road of the Bastides, in between the Dordogne and Garonne, is home to well known wines including Cadillac and Loupiac.
Yet another wine road worth taking is the Royal Wine, as we call the Champagne. Its reputations comes from the time when French kings were sacred in Reims from 898-1825 A.D. Most of the Champagne vineyards are around Reims and Epernay, towns where guests can visit vast cellars. The vineyards are less visible when you take a southerly direction. They are found after Troyes, from Bar-sur-Seine and Bar-sur-Aube.
Flights to Paris and Nice throughout mid-May have been discounted in the latest sale from Air France. Each way fares start at $277; book by April 13.