Bouchon Lyonnais

At first thought, the idea of taking your buddies to France for a wine trip doesn't seem like the most masculine endeavor but it's quite frankly something that I'm dreaming of doing one day. This is especially true of the Rhone Valley region in southeastern France. This region runs from Lyon to Avignon and is composed of several different viticultural areas and is known for some of the world's finest wines. However, it is also full of history ranging from Roman centurions to Medieval castles, as well as a modern food scene that is one of the best in Europe.

While this region doesn't quite have the cache of others such as say Burgundy, Bourdeaux, Champagne, or even Alsace - it is one of the largest wine regions in France. It runs about 150 miles along the river and surrounding countryside. While it is broken up into several sub-regions including Cotes Rotie in the north and Hermitage or Chateauneuf du Pape near Avignon, collectively this is the region you may recognize as Cotes du Rhone.

Getting There and Getting Around:

Most likely you are going to fly into Lyon. This is the second-largest metropolitan area in France and has excellent flights connecting international visitors to Paris, London, Frankfurt, and Madrid. 

Getting around Europe by train is easy, but for a wine tour like this, you are going to want to have the freedom to explore the countryside - not just be stuck in the cities. While you can rent a car, it is best to consider getting a private driver or tour bus such as that can shuttle you around instead. This way you won't have to worry about finding a parking space or be concerned about having too many glasses of wine.

What To See And Do On Your Rhone Valley Wine Tour:

In addition to touring vineyards, you should also spend some time in the cities too. Specifically, Lyon and Avignon both have a lot to offer guys looking for something fun and unique.

Lyon - 

Lyon is the birthplace of cinema and so it is fitting that they have a great movie museum here that features props and costumes from movies ranging from modern Marvel superhero films to classic films like Alien. Additionally, you can walk the steps of an ancient Roman theatre while you are in Lyon as well. Foodies will want to check out some of the markets as well as experience the classic Bouchon Lyonnais style restaurants featuring hearty classic dishes that will be sure to fill even the most robust appetite. Finally, Lyon is also a brewing center of France with a heritage that dates back hundreds of years so while wine is why you're here - make sure to check out their craft beer scene as well.

Vineyards and Wineries - 

Depending on your style and wine preferences you will want to develop an itinerary that caters to your tastes. Unlike most wineries in the United States, wineries here tend to focus on what they do best - instead of having a wide spectrum of different grapes and wines. You'll also quickly notice that while some wineries are very modern in style, others have a heritage that goes back hundreds of years. 

Avignon -

From 1309-1377, this was the seat of the Catholic Church in France and remained under Papal rule till 1791. As a result, there is some fabulous art and architecture here including a visit to the Palais des Papes and a visit to the Pont du Gard located just west of the city. Pont du Gard is a remnant of the Roman aqueduct system and is the highest of all Roman aqueduct bridges. It is also one of the best preserved and there's a museum there where you can learn more about Roman history in Gaul.