No surprise that the country most associated with wine history has a few museums dedicated to the topic. Beaune and Bordeaux are the undisputed wine royalty and, as such, each has its own museum. But there’s no shortage of places paying homage to wine, many off the beaten path. But, here are a few to visit if you’re hitting the big cities.
In Beaune, housed in the former Hotel of the Dukes of Burgundy the aptly named Burgundy Wine Museum is dedicated to that region’s particular viticultural and production heritage, mainly focused on the “Climats,” a concept unique to Burgundy and named to UNESCO’s World Heritage convention. Founded in 1946, it is the first museum dedicated entirely to the history of Burgundy. In development is the Cité des Climats and Burgundy Wines, a broader cultural/educational experience that will focus on the three regions of Burgundy: Chablis, Beaune and Macon.
The new-ish International City of Gastronomy and Wine of Dijon is a slick art, education and immersive experience in the culinary arts for which Dijon is best known. You can wander through exhibitions, participate in masterclasses, eat at on-site restaurants and shop the products. Opened in 2022 and covering 700,000 square feet, it includes to La Cave de la Cité, a three-level tasting area where you can try 3,000 different wines, including 250 by the glass, and the Burgundy Wine School, which offers two formats: two-hour lessons (230 euros per person) or two-day sessions (1,999 euros per person).
In Bordeaux, La Cite du Vin, opened in 2016 in the Bassins à Flot district of the city as a “cultural recreation venue,” a collaboration of numerous city and regional partners, including the Bordeaux wine council. It likely set the model for the destinations opening in Burgundy (and perhaps, too, the WOW Culture District in Porto, Portugal), with its slick exhibitions and interactivity giving wine its place in contemporary lifestyle while keeping its historical context. Visitors can take part in tasting workshops. Its current signature exhibition, running through Nov. 5, is “Via Sensoria” a sensory tasting journey that shows off best what the museum can do. Also on site are a wine cellar, restaurant and wine cellar and a boutique.
Near the Eiffel Tower, Paris’s wine museum, in a former convent and more recently, private mansion, is closed until Sept. 19 for renovations. Formerly owned and operated by the Conseil des Echansons de France, a brotherhood created in 1954, dedicated to defending and promoting historic wine appellations and terroirs (as most brotherhoods or fraternities do), it earlier this year has undergone new management and operations. When it reopens, it will be rebranded, Le M. Musee du Vin and feature nearly 13,000 square feet dedicated to wine and gastronomy, including a restaurant, entertainment venue, wine and cocktail bar, shop and tasting courses.
Next up in the series: France’s off the beaten path wine museums