Wine Lovers Taste the Flavors of France on Canal Cruises

May 29th, 2014

There are many reasons to go to France: stunning landscapes, splendid architecture, a rich history and culture, and unparalleled cuisine. Then, there is the wine. If you’re headed to France as an oenophile, eager to try a variety of wines, consider French canal cruises as a means not only of showing you different sides of the country but also of immersing you in the wine culture of any given region.

Wine Regions of France

Burgundy.  Probably the most well known wines of this area are the legendary red Burgundy (Pinot Noir) and the white Burgundy (Chardonnay) wines found in the Cote d’Or region near Beaune. Other wines not to be missed are from Beaujolais and Chablis. Beaujolais is made from the Gamay Noir grape and is featured in a traditional dessert of the region where sliced wild peaches and black currants are doused in the wine. Chablis, made exclusively from Chardonnay grapes, goes well with poultry and seafood dishes. Barge cruises in Southern Burgundy

Cote d'Or vineyard, Burgundy, France

Vineyards in the Cote d’Or wine region of Burgundy, France

Bordeaux. The most westerly wine region in France is known mainly for its red wines from the Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Merlot grapes. From strong tannin content to more mellow fruit flavor, these wines are great accompaniments with any kind of meal. And don’t forget to try some of the world’s best sweet dessert wines, the Sauternes, that are also produced here. Uniworld river cruises in Bordeaux.

Champagne. The only sparkling wine that can officially be called Champagne is mostly from Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes with a little Pinot Meunier to round out the flavors. As you float past the rich vineyards, the gently rolling hills dotted with old stone churches, raise a glass of real Champagne to celebrate your ongoing discovery of France. Barge cruises in Champagne.

Alsace. As you enjoy the potent mix of French and German cultures in this region, be sure to drink some Riesling, a dry white wine that goes well with a wide variety of foods. The 7 varieties of Alsatian grapes are white, comprised of the Gewurztraminer, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris and Riesling varietals, all dry wines versus their German counterparts. They go well with seafood dishes, salads and are great for sipping on the deck of your canal barge. Barge cruises in Alsace.

Barge cruises in Champagne, France

Underground cellars, Champagne region of France (Courtesy of Barge Panache)

Upper Loire. In this playground of monarchs, studded with magnificent chateaux, you’ll find the world class wines of Sancerre, Vouvray, Pouilly-Fume, made from the Sauvignon Blanc, Muscadet and Chenin Blanc grapes. Many of these wines go well with goat cheese, and you’ll enhance your understanding of what wines pair well with different foods, whether it’s grilled fish or veal with morels. Barge cruises in the Upper Loire.

Provence and Rhone Valley. Nestled in the southeastern area of France, the valley along the Rhone River grows primarily the Grenache, Syrah and Viognier grapes. The wines have a vast range of taste, and are usually much less expensive to purchase. This variety provides plenty of food pairing options to your meals. One of the most renowned appellations, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, is found in the southern part of the Rhône Valley near Avignon and is visited on your Provence barge cruise. Barge cruises in Provence.

Barge cruises in Cotes du Rhone, France

The Cotes du Rhone, France

Along with parts of Provence, Languedoc is the oldest wine region in France dating back to the 5th century B.C. It is also the largest wine region in the world and produces more than a third of France’s wine. Numerous grape varieties are grown in Languedoc where interesting blends and boutique wineries continue to improve the quality of what was once a region known for table wine. Vin du Pays d’Oc, Blanquette de Limoux and the sweet aperitif wine, Muscat, are just some of wines to be discovered. The Canal du Midi meanders through the beautiful vineyards of Languedoc immersing passengers in local wine culture. Barge cruises on the Canal du Midi.

Described here is just a taste of what you’ll experience when you travel through France by barge. You will be traveling at a leisurely pace through the countryside itself, stopping at small villages and vineyards to enjoy firsthand the best products of each region you visit.

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Ready to learn more about the wines of France? Contact us for more details about planning your ideal barge trip through France, including the kinds of wine you’d enjoy in every location.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988


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