Wine-taster in ProvenceDriving through beautiful provençal scenery and tasting fine wine are both hugely enjoyable ways to spend your stay in France. So why not combine them and take one of our suggested wine routes?

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Each of them is mapped out with the names, addresses and telephone numbers of leading vignerons (wine-makers, or vintners) along the way.

In Southern Provence, we've devised three routes within the Côtes de Provence appellation, all of them starting in Brignoles which is considered the centre of this wine-growing area and has an important annual wine fair each year in early April.

The powerful little appellation of Bandol has its own itinerary (Route 4). Two more routes lie within the Coteaux d'Aix appellation, starting in Aix en Provence. And a spin through the spectacular countryside of Les Alpilles around Les Baux de Provence (Route 7) concludes our winery tour of the south.

In Northern Provence, two routes starting from Gordes cover the Luberon appellation, one covers the area around Mont Ventoux and one covers Vacqueyras and other Rhône wines. Finally Route 12 takes in sweet Muscat wines.

You may also find this Wines of Provence IGN Mapimage! useful if you are planning to drive around wineries in the region.

As this guide aims to combine driving with tasting, we've avoided areas such as Châteauneuf du Pape or Cassis where there is a very high concentration of vineyards within a relatively short distance of each other.

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OUR TOP WINE DRIVES IN PROVENCE

Click on each link to view the individual map and detailed itinerary.

Route 1 (38 km/23.6 miles): Brignoles/La Celle/Tourves/Saint Maximin La Sainte Baume/Ollières/Pourcieux/Pourrières

Route 2 (64 km/40 miles): Brignoles/Le Val/Correns/Châteauvert/Barjols/Pontevès/Cotignac/Entrecasteaux/Saint Antoinin du Var

Route 3 (55 km/34 miles): Brignoles/Rocbaron/Garéoult/Néoules/La Roquebrussane/Nans les Pins

Route 4 (27 km/17 miles): Bandol/Saint Cyr sur Mer/La Cadiere d'Azur/Le Castellet/Le Beausset/Sainte Anne d'Évenos. Click here to read about our visit to the Oenothèque in Bandol plus two vineyards on this wine route.

Route 5 (42 km/26 miles): Aix en Provence/Puyricard/Venelles/Le Puy Sainte Réparade/Rognes/Lambesc Click here to read about the remarkable Château La Coste winery and art trail on this wine route.

Route 6 (48 km/30 miles): Aix en Provence/Eguilles/Coudoux/La Fare les Oliviers/Lançon Provence/Pélissane/La Barben

Route 7 (53 km/33 miles): Eygalières/Mouriès/Les Baux de Provence/Saint Rémy de Provence/Saint Etienne du Grès/Fontvieille

Route 8 (53 km/33 miles):Gordes/Goult/Bonnieux/Ménerbes/Oppède/Maubec/Cabrières d'Avignon/Saumane de Vaucluse Click here to read about the quirky Corkscrew Museum and Domaine de la Citadelle on this wine route.

Route 9 (43 km/26.7 miles): Gordes/Murs/Joucas/Roussillon/Gargas/Apt/Villar/Saint Saturnin lès Apt

Route 10 (26 km/16 miles): Carpentras/Loriol du Comtat/Caromb/Saint Pierre de Vassols/Crillon le Brave/Bédoin

Route 11 (26 km/16 miles): Vacqueyras/Gigondas/Sablet/Séguret/Roaix/Cairanne

Route 12 (17 km/10.5 miles): Beaumes de Venise/Les Tourades/Rasteau

Vineyard in Southern ProvenceMany of these vignerons speak English and are only too happy to entertain passing tourists with an interest in wine.

As well as the specific vineyards listed on our maps, look out for roadside signs saying Dégustation - Vente (tasting and sales).

Just avoid noon to 3pm as this is the hallowed lunch "hour" and most French businesses close for all or part of that time. Take the opportunity to have a slap-up lunch of your own.

Always bear in mind that the French drink-driving limit is 0.05 per cent. You are liable for prosecution if you are over, or just equal to this limit, and even if you refuse to take the breathalyser test.

The limit is even lower for new drivers who passed their test less than three years ago: 0.02 per cent. One glass of wine will take you over that limit.

Click here to read about one possible solution: touring Provence by camper van and details of how you can stay overnight, free, at vineyards after your tasting.

Today French police are a lot less indulgent on this matter than they have been in the past and drivers should, it goes without saying, keep safe by spitting out, and not swallowing, the wine samples. Click here to read more about the laws, rules and regulations governing driving in France.

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