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What You Need to Know to Keep Your Wine Tasting Holiday in France Affordable

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Joanne Poh

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A holiday to Bangkok or Hong Kong just seems so… gauche. No, you prefer to stay in a chateau on your trip and sip only the finest wines. And don’t suggest New Zealand okay? You deserve the best, so France it will have to be.

Okay okay we jest, many people who are into wine tasting are regular joes just like you and me, not luxury-obsessed douches. And there has to be a way to do this without having to sell your internal organs on the black market in order to raise cash. Here are the options available for your wine tasting trip to France.

 

Book a Singapore tour of the region that includes a wine-tasting component

This isn’t the most cost-effective option as you’re essentially paying for a whole lot of other destinations on a full tour you might not even enjoy. On the other hand, if you want to cram in as many tourist sites as possible with minimal planning, this option might be suitable. A friend of mine went on a European tour with a local tour company and discovered that they were forced to eat in Chinese restaurants for most of the trip. On the plus side, you don’t need to lift a finger or do any homework. Example: EU Holidays,

 

Fly to France and book single- or multi-day wine tasting tours

The main problem with doing this is that France is a big country and you might have to travel for hours to arrive at the region where you want to do the wine tasting. If you’re in Paris, Champagne is accessible by bullet train, although you might have to meet the group at Reims station or some other area on your own if transport is not provided. A day tour might include other sights as well as wine tasting at one or more wineries, or it could have you just hopping from winery to winery. The cheaper day tours cost 60 euro to 100 euro and include lunch. If you’re on a really tight budget, a half day tour can be had for around 40 euro and you’ll usually get to visit two wineries. This is a low-commitment option for those who don’t want to spend an entire week tasting wine. Example: Grape Escapes, France Bubbles Tours

 

Self-drive tour

How this works is that you and your friends drive your own rental car, but the route, hotel reservations and the itinerary with various wineries will be planned for you so you just need to follow instructions. However, a huge problem is that one of you is going to have to stay sober. Drink-driving laws are strict in France. These are, again, not cheap, but the cost of car rental and accommodation is usually included in the price. A good option for those who want to spend the entire week wine-tasting rather than just visiting one or two wineries. Example: Avalon Tours

 

DIY every step of the way

Nobody’s stopping you from renting a car and driving to the vineyards on your own. There are several established wine routes in France, so you won’t be at a loss for information. Just download some information online or ask the car rental agency for a map. This is the most economical option, especially if there’s 3 to 5 of you and you opt for budget accommodation options, but again, you’ll need a designated driver.

 

Tips

  • If you’re alone, on a tight budget  or just want to dip your toes into wine-tasting, take a half day or day tour.
  • If you’re travelling in a group of 3 to 5 and want to spend a lot of time wine-tasting, DIY is the most economical way to go.
  • Wineries bearing a sign saying “dégustation” are open for walk-in visits, and you’ll usually be given samples for free, although it’s good form to purchase a bottle or two afterwards.
  • Not all bars and wineries are made equal, some being wildly expensive. When planning your trip, do research on the wineries and bars you want to visit to make sure you can afford the price first. For instance, Bordeaux is notorious for being expensive, but bars such as Le Bar à Vin have gained a reputation for being more affordable.

As with anything related to alcohol, there’s a higher chance for certain mishaps to occur. Do yourself a favour and enjoy the great experience with peace of mind by making sure you’re well covered before setting off on your journey. Getting the best travel insurance rates in town is just a few minutes away with MoneySmart’s Travel Insurance Wizard.

Have you ever been wine-tasting in France? Share your experiences in the comments!

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Joanne Poh

In my previous life, I was a property lawyer who spent most of my time struggling to get out of bed or stuck in peak hour traffic. These days, as a freelance commercial writer, I work in bed, on the beach, in parks and at cafes, all while being really frugal. I like helping other people save money so they can stop living lives they don't like.