A photo of The Best Wine Tasting Tours in the Rhone Valley.

Rhone Valley
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Best wine tours in Rhone Valley

Why Visit Rhone Valley?

The Rhône Valley is usually divided into two distinct regions - the Northern Rhône and the Southern Rhône. However, what unites north and south in this diverse and fascinating land is stunning landscapes, rich winemaking heritage and fascinating history. Until the beginning of the 14th century, the Rhône was considered the border between France and the Holy Roman Empire, and the influence of the Romans is still very clear in the culture and traditions of the present day Rhône. In fact, history is in abundance here everywhere you turn.

The Rhône River itself was a hugely significant inland shipping route until the invention of the rail system; Lyon, the third largest city in France, is a fabulous showcase of Renaissance architecture and is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. This lovely city is also famous for its former life as the silk printing capital of Europe, as well as being a world-renowned destination for foodies, said to have the highest number of cafés per head in the whole of Europe. Lyon and Rhône's cuisine is simple, delicious and authentic, inspired by culinary ancient traditions and refined in the present day by modern French cooking techniques.

The wines of the Rhône are famous on a global scale, and at one time were considered some of the very best in the world. Today, both the Northern and Southern Rhône are renowned for their consistently high-quality wines, with names such as Hermitage, Côte-Rôtie and Crozes-Hermitage in the Northern region and Châteauneuf-du-Pape in the South sought after the world over. However, there is so much more to see and do here than simply wander the vineyards (although this is of course one of the highlights of any trip to the Rhône Valley!) The list of things to see in the Rhône is endless, in fact. Visit the Nyons appellation to taste some of the best olive oil in France; wander the beautiful Pont du Gard and a Roman coliseum in Nîmes, or get absorbed in the Palais de Papes at Avignon (one of the largest and most important Gothic buildings in all Europe) . If you are driving then you must take a trip down the legendary Route National Seven - the French equivalent of the USA's Route 66! 

The Rhône Valley is one of the most exciting and varied regions in all of France - whether you are a lover of wine and food, an outdoor adventurer, a history addict or simply want to kick back and relax with a glass of delicious red wine and some beautiful views, the Rhône has something for you.


Plan Your Visit

Best Known Grapes

The diversity and variety of the Rhône Valley of course extends to its winemaking appellations in both the Northern and Southern Rhône. A number of grapes, both red and white, are common here but there are two red wine grapes which are more synonymous with Rhône wines than any other; Syrah and Grenache. This legendary pair are used to produce many of the most famous wines here, a tradition which dates back thousands of years - it is said by some that Syrah in particular (known in other wine regions of the world as Shiraz) was brought to the region by the Romans sometime around 250 AD, whilst others say that the Greeks brought the first vines here with them from the Persian city of Shiraz.  Whatever the true origins may be, the actions of our ancestors have created a modern-day wine region of two halves, both fascinating and distinctive viticultural regions which are well worth exploring by any wine lover. The Northern Rhône, a little cooler and wetter than its southern sister, is most famous for its full-bodied Syrahs - in fact, this is the only black grape that is permitted in this area. The red wines created here are a delight, full bodied and deeply coloured with aromas of blackberries, black cherries and black pepper balanced by firm tannins. It's also worth mentioning the wonderfully full-bodied, floral, peachy white wines that are made here from Viognier, Marsanne and Roussanne. Any wine enthusiast is bound to be familiar with at least a few of the Northern Rhône's most famous appellations -  Condrieu, Côte-Rôtie, Hermitage, St Joseph, Cornas, Saint Peray and Château Grillet, to name but a few. The Southern Rhône, meanwhile, is a flatter, warmer area where Grenache takes center stage. The most famous wine from this area are undoubtedly the splendid reds of Chateauneuf-du-Pape, grown on the famous 'galet' soils and beloved for their cinnamon spice and red cherry aromas. In addition the the same white varieties as the north, Clairette, Grenache Blanc and Bourboulenc also appear here, making whites that are very similar in style to elsewhere in the Rhône. The list of well-known appellations in the Southern Rhône is just as extensive -  some of the most popular include Côtes du Rhône, Vacqueyras, Rasteau, Gigondas, Beaumes de Venise, Muscat de Beaumes de Venise and Tavel! Phew!
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Best time to visit

Peak season in the Rhône Valley runs from May to September, with a hot Mediterranean climate guaranteeing long, balmy sunlight hours. Temperatures can feel a little overwhelming in the middle of a town or city in high summer, but this can be the perfect excuse to ditch the hustle and bustle of urban life and retreat to the banks of the River Rhône for kayaking, fishing and cooling breezes. If you'd like to make your trip truly memorable, it's worth scheduling your visit to the Rhône around one of the many festivals which take in the region each year. A few of our favourites include: Avignon Festival - one of the most famous contemporary arts festivals in the world, which runs throughout July in Avignon L'Original Festival - a hip hop festival in April which attracts well known rappers from around the world. Grand Lyon Film Festival- takes place in October with all sort of films including short films and screenings. Vienne Jazz Festival - a major music festival that takes place over a period of two weeks in June and July. The festival includes international artists and has hosted incredible artists such as Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Lionel Hampton, to name but a few! Millévin Festival - taking place in mid-November each year, this festival celebrates the release of the new Côtes-du-Rhône wine vintages with an amazing programme of food, music and wine events!
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How long to stay

The breadth of things to see and do in the Rhône can be rather staggering - we'd recommend at least a week to experience the very best that this French region has to offer! If you are pushed for time, spend at least one full day exploring Lyon before heading out to the country on a day tour or overnight stay to enjoy the best of both worlds.
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How to get there

Lyon-Saint Expury Airport lies just 30 minutes outside Lyon city centre, with daily flights from London lasting just 1 hour and 30 minutes. Lyon is the gateway to the Rhône Valley, and it's easy to hire a car or organise day trips and tours to experience the region using this wonderful city as your base.
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