Irridescent hues, inimitable vintages and impeccable boutique hotels bathed in temperate sunlight – this is Autumn in France. With the renowned French wine producers at the start of their iconic grape harvest, there is no better time to visit this charming corner of the world than now.
Here are our picks of the best French harvest season rendezvous:
Château de Bachen & Les Pres d’Eugenie
Home to celebrated 3-Michelin-star chef Michel Guérard and his family, this gorgeous estate produces some of the finest merlot, cabernet and chardonnay grapes on its 25-hectare vineyard. The harvest of these grapes has just begun, and the winery will open its doors to the public on 14 and 15 September for tours.
Located around the corner from the Château de Bachen vineyard, in the heart of the pretty spa village of Eugénie-les-Bain, is the renowned culinary and spa estate Les Pres d’Eugenie, also owned by the Guérard family. The pristine Les Pres d’Eugenie property features stately guest rooms fitted with grandiose fireplaces, gorgeous antique furniture and luxurious white marble baths. There are also three restaurants onsite, including Michel Guérard’s three-Michelin-star gourmet restaurant, and an internationally renowned spa La Ferme Thermale®, making this venue a real treat-yourself escapade.
Classic rooms start from €234 a night in September 2019. Book here: www.lespresdeugenie.com
Château de Mercuès
The perfect place for a fairytale castle experience paired with excellent wine, the 13th century Château de Mercuès is a stunning wine-estate hotel overlooking the Lot Valley. Here, visitors can experience the entire winemaking process during the harvest of the region’s famed deep red Cahors wine, which includes tours of the vineyard, workshops and winetastings in the ethereal underground cellar, designed in the style of a Romano-Byzantine cathedral.
Accommodation is available in the exquisite medieval castle nestled between the vines. The castle boasts 30 beautifully decorated rooms and suites, and there is also a Michelin-starred restaurant, Le Duèze by chef Julien Poisot, on the property serving local delights including black Lalbenque truffles. Along with the picturesque grounds and boundless views, there are also a variety of leisure facilities including a swimming pool. Soak up the warm Autumn sun with a glass of wine in hand while basking in the beauty of the surrounds.
Classic rooms start from €234 a night in September 2019. Book here: www.chateaudemercues.com
Domaine de Verchant
Only a 10-minute drive from Montpelier, Domaine de Verchant is the ideal escape for those looking to relax on a sun lounger surrounded by vineyards. With a stunning restaurant, swimming pool and recently opened private sandy beach, authentic rustic beach bar, and sumptuous outdoor lounge area overlooking the vines on the property, Domaine de Verchant is a must-visit during the harvest season.
The 13-hectare vineyard surrounds a 16th-century stone château that houses 26 bedrooms and suites stylishly furnished in contemporary Italian fabrics by designer Raymond Morel. Fine-dining restaurant Verchant offers an array of plates inspired by the abundance of local produce, while La Plage restaurant serves small dishes from the tapas menu alongside an extensive á la carte menu. In addition, the property also boasts a luxurious spa, sauna, Jacuzzi, private hammam and indoor hydrotherapy pool.
Deluxe rooms start from €288 a night in September 2019. Book here: www.domainedeverchant.com
An idyllic wine and gourmet retreat in the village of Bages near Bordeaux, the former 19th-century chartreuse features 28 bedrooms and a Michelin-starred gourmet restaurant helmed by executive chef Julien Lefebvre.
The deluxe property is brimming with luxe amenities, which includes a chic lounge and terrace caressing the edge of the vineyard, an impressive 25-meter heated outdoor pool and sublime sauna. The hotel’s decor is equally as pleasing, featuring modern and classic elements blended together to create calm, classy spaces.
The hotel arranges wine tasting classes at Château Ormes de Pez in Saint-Estèphe on request, allowing visitors to discover the art of wine blending, experience food and wine pairings, and indulge in tasting wines from different appellations of the Médoc.
Deluxe rooms start from €238 a night in September/October 2019. Book here: www.cordeillanbages.com
Images © Les Pres d’Eugenie, Château de Mercuès, Domaine de Verchant and AE Thion.