Planning a wine-filled European vacation this year, but can’t decide whether to go to Spain or France? No problem – the answer is Roussillon, where Spain and France are joined at the hip. Officially part of the Languedoc-Roussillon region, its epicenter is the city of Perpignan, located just one and a half hours north of Barcelona and 135 miles southwest of Marseille.
Roussillon is a boutique wine region, accounting for just 2% of France’s overall wine production. Utilizing a host of native grape varieties such as Grenache (Noir, Blanc, and Gris), Mourvèdre, Syrah, and Carignan, Roussillon produces an impressive and robust range of dry red, white, and rosé wines in the Côtes du Roussillon appellation, and rich, spicy reds in the Côtes du Roussillon Villages appellation, which may appendage a qualifying village name to the label.
The region is also famous for its Vins Doux Naturels (VDN for short), which are fortified sweet wines found in the appellations of Banyuls, Maury, and Rivesaltes, with styles ranging from white, red, oxidized, and non-oxidized. The Banyuls appellation even has a Grand Cru status for their best wines, which age into immensely complex beauties. It can be said that VDN’s are France’s delicious alternative to Port. Banyuls also produces formidable dry wines labeled and sold under the Collioure appellation.
How To Get There
As there are no direct flights from the US to Perpignan, you will need to connect in Paris.
Flights to Perpignan are only available from Paris, Orly airport. If you fly from the US to Charles de Gaulle (CDG), you will need to transfer to Orly. Taxis are quickest (45 minutes) but will cost about $120 USD. You can take the Air France Transfer Bus for approximately $27 USD. Naturally, you should count your transfer time into your travel schedule. Another alternative is to connect to Perpignan by rail, a five-hour journey from Paris. The Gare de Perpignan rail station is just a five-minute bus or taxi ride to the city center.
Flight duration from Paris to Perpignan: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Perpignan–Rivesaltes Airport, also known as Llabanère Airport, is only 15 minutes from Perpignan city center.
Where to Stay
Ratings for the following accommodations are those of the hotel. Prices listed are in $USD, per night for double occupancy and may fluctuate depending on the season.
Hotel Mas des Arcades ***
840 Avenue d'Espagne, Perpignan, 66000 France
Tel : +33 4 68 85 11 11
This is a nice hotel outside of the city center with a great, accommodating staff. It features a fantastic restaurant with a creative dinner menu, and a wonderful pool and hot tub to relax after a long day of winery tours. The rooms are clean but could use some renovations and modernization. $96 - $120
Hotel La Fauceille ****
860 Chemin de la Fauceille, Perpignan, 66000 France
Tel: +33 4 68 21 09 10
One of the highest guest-rated hotels in Perpignan, located away from the city center, this property boasts a pool, fitness room and modern appointments. $94-$120
Grand Hotel les Flamants Roses ****
1 Voie Des Flamants Roses, Canet-en-Roussillon, 66140 France
Tel: +33 4 68 51 60 60
This is the place to stay if you want a breathtaking Mediterranean view! Conveniently located in Canet-en-Roussillon (7 miles from Perpignan city center) with quick access to Canet Beach and Saint-Cyprien Golf Club, guests may enjoy the sparkling pool, two terrific restaurants on the property and an easy stroll to the beach. $186-$250
There are many other excellent hotels located in the Perpignan city center. Prices range from $65 to $250 per night.
Best Wineries To Visit
#1 Domaine Cazes, Rivesaltes
#2 Domaine St. Sébastien, Banyuls-sur-Mer
#3 Domaine Gardiés, Estagel
#4 Domaine Lafage, Perpignan
#5 Domaine Vaquer, Tresserre
Wines of Roussillon
Christopher Davies is the National Wine Country Columnist for Examiner.com, and the publisher and editor of Wine Country International Magazine & VinoTasting. To follow his articles, subscribe at the link above.
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