Picturesque countryside of Alsace region- famous "vine route" France, Photo by leoks, Shutterstock

France is one of the largest wine producers in the world with an estimated production of 7-8 million bottles of wine a year. The history of French wine can be tracked back to the 6th century BC, with many of the wine regions flourishing during the Roman Empire. Wines are also one of France’s main tourist attractions with millions joining the wine tours, sommelier exhibitions and festivals every year. Many wine lovers have also relocated to the country so they can enjoy their favourite beverage and also become producers themselves. Among British expats, winemaking is the one of the most popular reasons to move to France together with opening a B&B. 

So, if you are looking for a refreshing start, but you are uncertain which will be the best location, here is what you need to know about the French wine regions. There are 10 major areas and a number of smaller ones. French land produces over 200 original wines, from the well-known Chardonnay and Cabernet to the not so famous Pruneyard and Savagnin. 

Alsace

Marvelous mountains and picturesque valleys surround the Rhine river, and rich history and culture were formed under both French and German influence, making the Alsace region slightly different than the other ones in France. If you prefer white wines – this is your place of choice. Mainly dry and fruity wines come from beautiful vineyards under the body of Vosges mountain. The best ones are Riesling, Sylvaner and the very fruity Gewurztraminer. 

Alsace is listed as one of the best wine regions in Europe with 11 big wine routes, which attract visitors from around the world. There is a big festival in late October, marking the end of the harvest season. For lovers of good food, there are 27 Michelin star restaurants in the region. And if you dream of having your own business, Alsace is a good place to do so. Currently on the market, there are lovely bistros for around €300,000. 

Bordeaux

Together with Burgundy and Champagne, Bordeaux helps form the “holy trinity” of French wine production. Those three regions have the largest vineyard areas, becoming synonymous with French wines around the world. Historically, Bordeaux had the advantage of direct access to the sea and for many centuries, Bordeaux was the biggest wine export in the country. 

In the 12th century, the region became the main supplier of wine for England, following the marriage of queen Eleanor of Aquitaine to King Henry II. Within the years, the commercial links have become stronger and nowadays, Bordeaux’s wines are still one of the UK’s biggest favourites, often referred to as “clarets”.

The vineyards are mainly situated in the outskirts of the city of Bordeaux and the estuaries of the rivers Gironde, Garonne and Dordogne. One of the largest vineyards there stretches more than 100 km. 

Another specific detail about Bordeaux is the special classification that operates in the region, particularly, of its top wines. Currently the most appreciated ones are from the Médoc and Saint Emilion vineyards, where a bottle can run from €50 to €250 euros. 

If you’d like to invest money into a wine cellar there, there are a few on the market with a price between €1,000,000 and €2,500,000.

Burgundy

The heart of Burgundy’s wine culture is the historical city of Beaune, where since 1859, they’ve held the most important French wine auction, every year. The city of Beaune is situated between Paris and Geneva and it’s also known as the walled city due to well preserved medieval constructions such as ramparts, moat and a 15thcentury hospice. The town is surrounded by those equally famous in the sommelier world: villages such as Gevrey Chambertin, Nuits-Saint-Georges and Nolay. Burgundy is mostly recommended for its red wines, the best of which can keep well for 20 to 30 years. A good investment in the region is a small restaurant or a bistro that you can buy for €150,000 to €300,000.

Champagne

The world-famous symbol of celebration, victory and luxury, the sparkling wine of Champagne has become a legend itself. As a region, Champagne is the coldest of the major wine regions in France. The unique taste and bubbling structure are characteristics the wine owes to the chalky soil and the continental climate. Many wineries around the world have tried to replicate Champagne’s wines but have never been able to achieve the same result. 

Historically, the production of wine in the region is traced back in time, but internationally the reputation of Champagne spread around Europe in the Middle Ages when Popo Urban II (born in the region) declared the wine of Ay in the Marne department as the best wine in the world. That was the time when the first cellars started to appear in the region and one of them, the House of Gosset, founded in 1584 is the oldest Champagne house, still open today. The global reputation of the region came in the 19th century, with the industrial revolution, when over only 50 years, the production of 300,000 bottles a year grew to 20 million. Buying a property in the region for business purposes is limited to restaurants and cafes, but you can find lovely village houses for about €60,000 – €70,000.

Loire Valley

The 280 kilometres valley that stretches around the river Loire is also popular as the Cradle of France or the Garden of France due to plentiful vineyards, cherry orchards and massive vegetable gardens. The region is one of the most beautiful in France; famous for its historical towns, remarkable architecture and, of course, wines. 

Pale reds, rosé and whites are the kinds that put Loire Valley on the map of top French wines. The region is also the country’s second biggest producer of sparkling wine after Champagne. 

Due to its historical importance and the number of tourists visiting every year, buying property in Loire Valley is a bit more expensive than other French regions; houses start from €200, 000. 

Jura

Although, historically it used to belong to the Burgundy region, Jura is actually notable for its white wines, such as Vin Jaune (similar in taste to cherry), Poulsard, Trousseau, and Chardonnay. Named after the Jura mountains in the east of France, the region was one of the original 83, that formed the country after the French Revolution in 1789. 

Jura is popular among lovers of winter sports, hiking and mountain climbing. There is no development of big industry and small businesses such as B&Bs, bakeries, butcheries, craft shops are flourishing. The property market of the region shows an average price of €200,000. 

Côtes du Rhone

With vineyards that stretch for 200 km, Côtes du Rhône has the fame of being one of the most traditional wine regions in France. The wines coming from that region are branded as Mediterranean types such as Viognier, Syrah, and Grenache. There are also one of the cheapest French wines, those that are very popular at lunch or on the dinner table on a daily basis.  On the contrary, the property market is one of the most expensive in the country, for the region is in south on the Mediterranean coast. The average price is €700,000. 

Provence

The romantic essence of the French wines is hidden in the pink body of Provence’s rosé and the beauty of this southern region. A location setting for hundreds of romantic movies, plus cultural heritage that stretches beyond the ancient Roman buildings and Medieval castles, it is home to the rich and famous. Provence is also probably the warmest wine region in the country. Although the rosé wines are the most well-advertised, the rich reds coming from the Var are also worth trying. There is also a unique “grey wine” from Camargue area, that is white wine made from red grapes. A house in Provence isn’t cheap, with properties starting from € 300,000 up to an astonishing €8,000,000 for mansions along the coast line.

Languedoc-Roussillon

Known as the “wine lake” of France Languedoc-Roussillon is the largest in terms of vineyards and production places in the country. Most of the production is cheap and exported. The region is also home to the world’s oldest sparkling wine – blanquette de Limonoux, made for the first time in 1531 by Benedictine monks at an abbey in Saint-Hilaire.  As for property value, Languedoc-Roussillon offers the best prices on the Mediterranean side of the country with an average price of €200,000 for a house. 



Abbey of Senanque and blooming rows lavender flowers on sunset. Gordes, Luberon, Vaucluse, Provence, France, Europe, Photo by StevanZZ, Shutterstock