As much as I enjoy visiting Paris, my heart is in the countryside of France. For the past three years I have been touring different wine areas of the country, meeting winemakers, exploring small villages, and tasting the best, most authentic cuisine France has to offer. Rhône Valley was no exception. This wine region in Southern France has the weather, the sights, the wine, the food, and the friendly hospitality that makes falling in love with France so incredibly easy.

Viewfinder Tip: Plan on renting a car for deeper exploration into the wineries of France.

From biking through the vineyards to hiking in caves—all with stops for a little wine tasting of course—I got to experience firsthand the soul behind the beautiful wines that come from here. And though many can be purchased in the states, there’s nothing like getting a taste of it all at the winery. Come before harvest season and you might even get to meet the winemakers themselves.

Arrive into the medieval and UNESCO World Heritage Site of the city of Avignon, which is a direct train ride from Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport, and be ready to drive around the region. I promise it’s worth the adventure! There are plenty of beautiful bed and breakfasts along the way so that you never have to drink and drive.

What are your favorite wine destinations?