Love the thought of touring French vineyards and spending days sampling delicious French food and wines? Then check out our favourite 10 food and drink holidays across France that include among others champagne trails, river cruises and cognac tasting breaks
Stalwarts of the wine scene Arbaster and Clarke have a tour for everyone on their books, but this one exploring France’s Isle of Beauty is a proper holiday. Starting at Calvi in the north-west, the week-long itinerary moves clockwise around the island and, with the recent expansion of the Corsican wine industry, spectacular drinking is guaranteed throughout.
10-17 May 2015, £2,095
Tel: 01730 263111
Irish expat Sinéad Allart offers small-group gourmet breaks in the Normandy countryside south-west of Cherbourg. Outings to local markets, restaurants and an organic cider farm are complemented by cookery classes in her 18th-century farmhouse kitchen, and accommodation is in a beautifully converted barn next door.
Various dates, six days approx €1,320, three days approx €1,120, one day approx €145 (contact for 2015 prices)
Tel: 0033 (0)6 03 17 83 73
If thirst is long but time is short, stay a night in Epernay and blitz the bubbles in five sessions over two days. Held out in the vineyards, at exclusive boutiques and around the dinner table, this tour includes a fascinating demonstration of the champagne-making process, all the way from press to bottle. Grape Escapes celebrated its 10th anniversary last year.
Various dates, from £307
Tel: 01763 273373
Set up by journalist Moira Martingale, French House Party brings groups of 10 people together for a weekend of cooking and chinwags at a 200-year-old farm in Languedoc. Top chef Robert Abraham leads the classes but there is winetasting, a market visit and time to explore Carcassonne too.
Friday to Sunday on various dates, £595
Tel: 01299 896819
Peter and Charlotte Worthington’s programme of one-day winetasting tours in Vaucluse is a big hit with lovers of Côtes-du-Rhône. Tailor-made and adaptable to individuals in groups of four, tours wend their way through the ancient winemaking villages of Gigondas, Vacqueyras and Beaumes-de-Venise to name just a few. Lunch is organised but not included.
Various dates, full day £65, half day £45,with market £65
Tel: 01202 258327
The ultimate indulgence for the brandy lover and available by request on any weekday, Jean-Luc Montembault’s one-day excursion takes in two Grande Champagne family estates and their distilleries, a traditional barrel factory and lunch at a typical Charentaise restaurant. Tours depart from Cognac and Angoulême with a stop in pretty Segonzac on the way.
Various dates, €120-160
Tel: 0033 (0)5 45 80 80 38
Earthy black truffles, velvety foie gras, confit de canard – Dordogne comes high on the list for French food fans. Peregrine Adventures’ eight-day tour of the department keeps waistlines in check by hiking between stops. Starting in Les-Eyzies and ending in Sarlat, there are visits to markets and prehistoric sites and gourmet picnics on the grass.
Various dates, from £1,560
Tel: 0207 408 9021
Following the success of their first event in 2014, wine specialists David and Lynne Hammond are once again offering a weekend of excellent food and wine in and around Beaune, the region’s wine capital. With a 12th-century monastery-turned-hotel as your base, the tour encompasses numerous tastings and professionally prepared meals, with a focus on specialities of the region.
26-29 March 2015, €1,650
Tel: 0033 (0)6 30 42 02 98
Tauck’s 10-day tour aboard MS Swiss Emerald follows the Rhône river from Lyon to Arles in search of culinary adventures. Highlights include browsing Lyon’s famous covered market and lunching at a private ranch in the Camargue, but the trip actually starts in Paris, with dinner at Fouquet’s and a pastry class at École Lenôtre.
19-28 April 2015, £3,495
Tel: 0800 810 8020
Overwhelmed by the edible choices in France’s capital? Let a three-hour tour with Paris by Mouth get your senses stirred. The city’s south side has recently seen the arrival of prize-winning cheesemongers, chocolatiers and other food artisans and all will be hungrily explored. Tours depart from Bvd St-Germain.
Every Sunday 11am-2pm, €95