Not only is the gastronomical meal of the country listed as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage, France is also one of the most well-known wine countries with Bordeaux, Champagne and Burgundy being among the most recognisable grape producing regions.
According to Tatiana Livesey, co-founder, Winerist, this status attracts not only high-quality customers but curious ones as well, making the European country one of the company’s best selling destinations.
Despite what could be described as a turbulent first half of the year with mixed results from hotels, specialist tour operators continue to see robust growth in the luxury segment, particularly when it comes to wine tours.
Genevieve McCarthy, managing director, Cellar Tours, noted, “It has been the best year ever since we started in 2003.”
Stéphane Tillement, president, Wine Tour in France, explained that within these specific regions, around 50 percent of luxury demand is related to food and wine, with the high-end market looking for authentic and exclusive memories.
Tilleman emphasised the industry’s strength in the face of recent difficulties, so much so that he is launching a new company focussing on wine and dine experiences.
Whilst underlining the strong demand from the luxury segment, Livesey pinpointed that increasingly, individuals are designing their own holidays, often sourcing their own hotels and only requesting the services of agents for specialised tours, programmes and knowledgable guides.
With luxury hotels and award-winning nouvelle cuisine going hand in hand, it comes as no surprise that many travellers are prioritising their accommodation choice based on the property’s culinary offerings.
Home to three restaurants, including two Michelin-star La Grand’Vigne, Alice Tourbier, owner, Les Source de Caudalie underscored the importance of gastronomy and wine to the hotel, explaining that it is one of the key reasons visitors opt for this address.
Speaking in agreement Robin Oodunt, general manager, Hotel Château Eza, said, “Gastronomy is one of the main experiences our hotel guests [seek].”
Both Tourbier and Oodunt observed that diners often ask to meet the chef, and even ask for their menus to be signed, demonstrating knowledge and awareness of renowned chefs and their distinct offerings.
Although seasonal and local produce is a prime concern of guests, with customers especially eager to discover regional dishes, Bernard Pétine, CEO, Château des Vigiers highlighted that the highest standard of service is essential to the ultimate dining pleasure.
It is clear that experience takes precedence for high-end tourists, so La Grande’Vigne at Les Source de Caudalie offers cooking classes with the chef, wine tasting with the sommelier and food pairing, while visitors staying at Hotel Château Eza also have the chance of enjoying their meals in a unique setting, on a romantic exclusive balcony overlooking the French Riveria.