Oh France! Producer of eight billions bottles and 53 litres of wine per capita a year, France is a wine’s lover dream destination. A plan to visit France and experience its culture is exciting and on many lifetime “must do” lists. So how do you efficiently pack for 80-90 degree days, afternoons in damp wine cellars and dining in cool 60 degree evenings? Consider these packing tips for your next wine excursion!

1. Purchase Travel Electronics 

  • Portable charger Saving those tasting notes is made easier when the phone and camera batteries are fully charged. Consider the Aibocn, the cheap but high quality option, and the AnkerPower Core, with higher price but more perks. Smartphones are life savers when traveling to a new country or city. Store your portable charger in your bag or purse.
  • Plug adapter & converter Many people don’t know that Europe’s electricity has a higher voltage along with those different sockets than those in the US. Therefore, it is necessary to travel with a and convertor for both you and your travel partner so you can each charge your gadgets.

2. Be Culturally Prepared

  • Exchange cash for Euros: Don’t forget that France uses Euro currency, not the French Francs.
  • Research about the culture beforehand: Find nice reads about France and its wine. If it is digital, even better. Consider downloading the Kindle version of these books before your trip: Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine, The Food and the Wine of France: Eating and Drinking from Champagne to Provence, or The World Atlas of Wine.
  • Key Words & Phrases for Greetings: Study ways to greet people in shops, wineries and restaurants. You’ll be a success with the formal “Bonjour, ça va?”. It is a nice way to say, “Hello, how are you?” The French tend to be respectful and formal at first, if they observe you’re making an effort to speak French and blend into the culture they will appreciate it.
  • Study Geography: Submerge yourself in the wine culture researching the wine regions and the terroir you will be visiting. Terroir literally translates to earth or soil. However, in this context it is used to describe the soil’s environment and why it is unique and different from others.

3. Pack Tasty Snacks

  • Pairing charcuterie et fromage with wine is a must, it is the correct way of doing wine-drinking, according to the French. Nevertheless, it is a good idea to pack your own healthy snacks for travel. You never know when your next proper meal will occur. Some options are:
    • Sealed nuts and dried fruits.
    • Energy bars: these don’t contain added sugars, soy, gluten, dairy, GMO’s.

4. Consider Clothing Carefully

  • Wearing light colored clothing (even with perfect manners) is a poor wardrobe choice when wine tasting. Those tasters behind you may not be so well-mannered and spill red Burgundy down the back of your white blouse — or worse your white pants. No wonder the French like navy blue and dark clothing – it hides those red wine droplets!
  • Pack and wear layers. Many wine regions have sunny days and cool nights. Bringing a combination of “breathable” clothing for the day and a lightweight or a leather jacket for the chilly weather after dusk.
  • Although France is known for its sophisticated fashion, and you want to look polished, comfortable closed-toe shoes are best. Vineyards are a working business with stainless steel equipment and barrels. WIne cellars can be muddy and slippery; so wear comfortable, sturdy dark colored shoes.

5. The most important tip: Take care of the wine you plan to bring home!

  • Pack or purchase wine sleeves to protect your souvenir bottles.  
  • Investigate alcohol-transport regulations and print a copy to bring to the airport.
  • When traveling to and from the U.S. with alcohol, follow the TSA regulations.

Our essential advice is to enjoy this experience to its fullest, be inquisitive as to customs, and open to different traditions. Absorb French wine culture!

Sharon Schweitzer and Sophie Echeverry co-wrote this post. Sharon Schweitzer, J.D., is a cross-cultural trainer, modern manners expert, and the founder of Access to Culture. In addition to her accreditation in intercultural management from the HOFSTEDE centre, she serves as a Chinese Ceremonial Dining Etiquette Specialist in the documentary series Confucius was a Foodie, on Nat Geo People. She is the resident etiquette expert on two popular lifestyle shows: ABC Tampa Bay’s Morning Blend and CBS Austin’s We Are Austin. She is regularly quoted by BBC Capital, Investor’s Business Daily, Fortune, and the National Business Journals. Her Amazon #1 Best Selling book in International Business,  Access to Asia: Your Multicultural Business Guide, now in its third printing, was named to Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books of 2015. She’s a winner of the British Airways International Trade Award at the 2016 Greater Austin Business Awards and the 2017 New York City Big Book Award for Multicultural Nonfiction.

Sophie Echeverry is a marketing manager and event coordinator at Access to Culture. Born and raised in Colombia, with a degree in International Business and Marketing from Hult International Business School in San Francisco. Feel free to connect with Sophie on LinkedIn.

France Vineyard photo by Pixabay