The wine regions of France take in names like Bordeaux, Champagne and Beaujolais, and this Michelin guide to French wine country includes driving tours, hotels, restaurants and sights. It covers fourteen of the country's best-known wine-growing areas, including such famous names as Bordeaux, Burgundy, Beaujolais, Champagne, Alsace, Cognac and Bourgogne. There are also some names perhaps less well-known to overseas visitors, such as Jura, Corsica, and Savoie et Bugey.
Each wine-growing region gets its own long chapter of a guidebook that runs to almost 500 pages in that familiar tall, thin, Green Guide format, which fits neatly into the hand as well as the glove compartment. Aimed firmly at the wine lover, and covering all the major vineyards and wineries in each area, this France wine country guide also serves as a general guidebook and includes information on what to see as well as where to stay and, of course, where to eat – this is a Michelin guide after all.
In attempting to cover everything, though, it perhaps spreads itself a little thinly sometimes. The conventional visitor attractions are not covered in great depth, and some of the smaller museums and other things to do aren't mentioned at all, so much so that it might have been better to leave them out altogether and free up more space for what the guide is all about: visiting French wine country.
And when it concentrates on the wine, this guide is very good indeed. A huge opening section of 80 pages covers not only the practical information of getting around France, with driving advice and regulations, but is a complete encyclopedia on wine, and in particular French wine: the grapes, where and how they grow, the sometimes confusing French wine classification system, the wine year, buying and tasting wine, how to store wine, and even what books to read and what films to see.
The different wine regions of France then follow, each beginning with an overview of the area and then a run-down of the major towns and cities. There are several driving routes described, and some maps, though you'd be advised to get more detailed maps to help you drive through cities, or if you want to get off the beaten track a little.
Each wine region also has an Address Book, which gives several detailed pages on where to stay and where to eat in the different places en route, focusing on those that have good wine lists, or some connection with the wine trade. Best of all is the Shopping Guide – several more pages on where you can buy the wine, whether from wine merchants or from the cellar door. There's a rough guide to prices, too, and advice on what to look out for. Finally is a list of the region's Festivals – the ones centred on wine, naturally.
Even if you're only casually interested in traveling in French wine country, this is an essential guide, like making the journey with a friendly wine buff who knows all the secrets.
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