Your patience will be rewarded with wine tastings, which are available in profusion at châteaux in and around every vine-enclosed community. Some require an appointment, some invite you to drop in. Every community, starting with the city of Bordeaux itself, has a winemakers' office that will set up appointments and provide directions. And a cork's throw in almost any direction will often land on a wine-tasting class. Under the guidance of a local instructor, you can admire, sniff, swirl, sip, swish, and all that.
Then, with a full taste of France, you can hop another TGV and fast forward to Paris and the 2004 world, ready to dazzle your friends with tales of life in the fast train.
marie hennechart's powerful pictures have been published in travel+leisure and condé nast traveler (uk), among others.
the french countryside
you can't go wrong at any of these charming spots.
hotel les hautes roches
86 quai de la loire