Rail and Wine – Exploring Europe’s Vineyards by Train

From the refined elegance of a Chardonnay to the robust charisma of a red Shiraz, there’s something intoxicating about wine. And what better way to explore this libation than by train, a mode of travel that embodies leisure and adventure?

From Champagne to Bordeaux, these wine-focused train journeys are for weekend explorers, inquisitive souls yearning to immerse themselves in new cultures, and those who understand that sustainable train travel is not only possible but also pleasurable.


The city of Bordeaux is a true French jewel with a compact Old Town that drips with classical charm, while its suburbs exude southwestern gastronomy and “joie de vivre”. It’s also a gateway to the nearby vineyards and the wine industry is very much at the heart of the local culture. This is reflected in its new museum and cultural centre dedicated to wine, La Cite Du Vin, which opened in 2016.

To reach the city from Paris by train the fastest service is TGV Est. The journey takes around two hours and there are several departures each day. If you prefer a more leisurely pace, the regional TER trains are a great option. They offer a more flexible ticketing system, with M-tickets, E-tickets and paper tickets available. These tickets allow for a greater level of flexibility as they are fully refundable, even after your trip has begun!

For those exploring Bordeaux on a budget, the train is an easy way to reach many of the region’s finest chateaux. The city has a well-established wine route, the Route des Vins (Vins de Bourgogne), which runs through the Bordeaux Aquitaine region. Alternatively, you can hop on a bus, which makes regular stops at key winery locations.

From Bordeaux, you can easily travel to the Medoc region on a day tour. Here you can visit three or four of the celebrated left-bank Medoc chateaux, learning about the Bordeaux blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot grapes. You can also see the UNESCO-classified appellations of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol.

In addition to Bordeaux, a number of other wine regions can be reached from Paris on local or regional trains. For example, the SNCF service to Toulouse is a popular way to explore the wineries of the Garonne Valley, while the direct TGV link to Frankfurt is an ideal choice for German visitors wanting to make the most of their weekend in the south-west of France.

A direct train from Frankfurt to Bordeaux is one of the newest services on the Ventral Europe wine train network and echoes the summer Saturday car train that ran between the two cities 25 years ago. Other upcoming routes include a summer seasonal direct car train to Mainz, which is renowned for its Rhine wines and is home to the iconic Lorelei Rock, where legend holds that a siren once lured sailors into her waters.


The Burgundy region (or Bourgogne) may be best known for cult-status Pinot Noir wines that range from easy drinking Pouilly Fuisse to priceless seductions like Grand Cru Romanee-Conti, but this celebrated wine region has much more to offer. As a center of both religious and culinary culture for centuries, Burgundy is replete with historical and cultural sights to explore, from the vast medieval cathedral in Beaune to the relics of the cistercian and Cluniac Orders, including giant altarpieces and delicately sculpted marble tombs.

If you’re looking to explore the main Burgundy towns and villages – Dijon, Beaune, Macon, Auxerre and a bevy of key wine villages – train travel works well. Comfortable regional trains operated by TER Bourgogne-Franche-Comte provide a sustainable way to nip between destinations in just a few days, and they make for a relaxing and scenic alternative to driving.

Cars are also a popular and convenient way to explore Burgundy on your own, but the road network can be tricky to navigate. If you’d rather not deal with the hassle of driving in a foreign country, consider hiring an experienced driver who can chauffeur you around to your chosen vineyards and wineries on a private tour.

Organized tours are also a great option, but you’ll pay for the privilege in both time and money. A quality-focused local guide can help you navigate the region’s intricate road network while enjoying a relaxed pace that allows you to fully appreciate your Burgundy experience.

If you prefer to self-drive, be sure to rent a safe and reliable vehicle with GPS to avoid any frustrating hiccups on the road. You’ll also want to invest in a good set of tires that can handle the region’s notoriously winding roads.

There are several airports within close proximity of Burgundy, most notably the Lyon-Saint Exupery, which offers a wide range of international flights. The Paris Charles de Gaulle and Orly airports are also viable options, as is the Dole-Jura Airport, located 50 km from Dijon. If you are able, flying to Burgundy by plane is the fastest and most direct option.

The Loire Valley

With its castles, vineyards, forests and villages, this region in western France feels like a step back in time. Crossed by Europe’s last wild river, the Loire, this area is a treasure chest of history, nature and French art de vivre. Whether you explore by foot, bicycle or car, it’s easy to find endless charm.

Start with a stroll through the medieval town of Amboise, then head to the Île d’Or (Gold Island) for great views of the Chateau Royal d’Amboise. Across the river is Chenonceau, an architectural marvel that spans the Cher River, and it’s best admired at sunset when the setting sun casts its golden reflection in the water below the gleaming arches.

The Loire Valley is known for its outstanding wines — white, red, rose and sparkling — as well as lively, sophisticated cities like Orleans, Blois, Tours and Angers. UNESCO has deemed this area a World Heritage Site for its castles, old villages and lush countryside. Whether you’re cruising on the longest stretch of river in France or exploring the castles and towns on foot, you will be enchanted by the beauty that surrounds you.

When it comes to wine, there are many appellations in the area and they all produce something different. Chinon, Bourgueil, Saumur, Vouvray and Muscadet are among the top wines here, and each has a unique flavor.

If you want to learn more about the local wine scene, consider a visit to Domaine des Rocheforts in Bourges. Here you’ll find a high-quality winery that is family owned and run by sixth generation wine makers. They focus on producing wines from local grape varieties and their vineyards are certified organic.

If you are looking to travel to the Bordeaux, Burgundy or Loire Valley with ease and comfort while leaving your car at home, consider booking a Ventral Europe wine train vacation. These itineraries are carefully planned to allow you to enjoy the local wines and sights with the convenience of transport between destinations. Visit the Wine Train website to learn more and to reserve your trip.


There is a lot to love about Europe’s wine scene. Whether it’s Bordeaux, Burgundy, or the Loire Valley, these regions offer incredible wines, breathtaking scenery, and rich cultural experiences. For those looking to enjoy a little bit of all that, a train journey through these vineyards is the perfect way to get around.

Champagne is the most iconic wine region in France, and it’s easily accessible by train on a day trip from Paris. Alternatively, visitors can spend a few nights in the city of Reims and visit wine cellars that were dug centuries ago. Similarly, Germany’s Mosel region is known for its wines and offers a beautiful wine trail that can be explored by riverside train.

The Czech Republic may not be as well-known for its wines, but the region of Moravia is quickly becoming a wine-growing hotspot. Its white wines are exceptionally good, and the region is also growing its reputation for red wines. A train trip through the region is the best way to experience it, and trains run frequently between Prague and Brno.

Italy exudes romance, and it’s also home to countless culinary delights, including some of the world’s finest wine. In Piedmont, the Nebbiolo grape is cultivated to produce Barolo and Barbaresco. The region is sandwiched between the warmth of the Mediterranean and the cold of the Alps, which gives its wine great longevity. It’s easy to explore Piedmont on a train tour from Rome or Milan, and you can find tickets on Trenitalia or Italo.

Often overlooked by visitors to the UK, England’s wine scene is on the rise. Its burgeoning industry is responsible for some of its most famous bottles, and there are a number of vineyards that welcome guests to stay at their properties. A popular wine train tour in England takes travellers from London to Camel Valley, where Bob Lindo and family have been making wine and welcoming visitors for over 30 years.

So, what are you waiting for? Grab a Eurail Global Pass and a bottle of something nice to sip while you discover the beauty of European wine country by train.

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