This ‘wine theme park’ will make you reconsider your next vacation

If you weren’t already considering a trip to France, you will be soon!

Image courtesy Photos Studio MB/La Cité du Vin/XTU architects.

If you’re someone who loves wine, there’s simply no way around it: You’ve got to check this place out.

Located in Bordeaux, France, is a stunning space that describes itself online as “a new-generation museum where wine comes to life through an immersive, sensorial approach, all set within an evocative architectural design. La Cité du Vin gives a different view of wine, across the world, across the ages, across all cultures and all civilisations.”

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Marie Claire magazine broke it down into simpler terms, calling the venue a “wine theme park” and “the stuff of grown-up dreams.”

So, what exactly is this place? You might hear the words “theme park” and think of roller coasters.

There are no rides, but visitors who love wine are certainly in for an adventure.

Let’s just get one thing straight before you write this place off and decide it’s for experts only, or tell yourself your palate isn’t refined enough.

If you like the idea of wine, but you clam up when chatting it up with your server at a restaurant or a friend who’s a little more familiar -- or perhaps you like what you like, but you have no idea when it comes to “tasting notes” -- don’t feel like this experience is for wine snobs only.

This place welcomes anyone who’s interested in vino, regardless of your level of expertise. If you’re a total novice, maybe that’s an even better reason for you to take a workshop here.

“Test your senses, widen your tasting perspective, get to know about wines without any fears, learn to distinguish aromas and to combine food and wine effortlessly,” the website says.

These themed tastings are multi-sensory, and they’re offered regularly, year-round.

Image courtesy Photos Anaka MB/La Cité du Vin/XTU architects.

Now that that’s out of the way, what else can we tell you?

La Cité du Vin offers a permanent exhibition, a hot spot called The Belvedere, a reading room, events and shows and a temporary exhibition, along with workshops and tours.

Even the building itself was designed with wine in mind: or more specifically, the architecture is supposed to make you think of wine swirling in a glass. It appears not many details were overlooked.

Image courtesy Photos Studio MB/La Cité du Vin/XTU architects.

La Cité du Vin wants visitors to experience a “lively, eye-opening journey around a world of wine and culture.” The venue aims for people to focus on their emotions, sensations and imagination while drinking a glass. But most of all, according to the website, La Cité du Vin wants to teach people through interaction and experiences, not through a stuffy classroom or typical wine-tasting. You’re encouraged to go at your own pace and explore the building the way you best see fit.

The Belvedere is kind of like a watchtower -- and it’s here where you can snag a 360-degree look at Bordeaux down below. You can also try wines from all over the world.

Here's a look at The Belvedere. Image courtesy Photos Anaka MB/La Cité du Vin/XTU architects.

At the permanent exhibition, you can pop in and explore the 19 areas of wine history, take a guided tour, a themed tour or even make a day of it. There’s about 10 hours of “content,” so fear not: If you’re really here to learn, La Cité du Vin has you covered. We should mention, there’s a personal discovery tool, as it’s called, available as well -- it’s free and it will translate the exhibition into one of eight languages. So, no need to feel left out of the loop if you don’t speak French!

The other areas of the museum -- including the temporary exhibition, featured events and shows, and workshops and tours -- vary depending on when you visit.

This woman is shown using the travel companion tool. Image courtesy Photos Studio MB/La Cité du Vin/Casson Mann.

Before you assume the library is for stiff history lessons only, think again: here, you can read up on questions such as “Can vines be planted anywhere?” and “Has the taste of wine changed much over the centuries?”

Good questions.

At last check, admission for one adult for a permanent course ticket and tasting was $20. Several other options are available as well, depending on what exactly you’d like to explore and how many people will come with you. Several free spaces are open to the public as well, including the gardens, an entrance hall, the reading room and several restaurants and shops.


This story was first published in 2019. It has since been updated.

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