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Getting a taste of the high life in France.

PETE THOMPSON indulges in the traditions of Beaujolais and Lyon AT CHATEAU de la Chaize, built between 1674 and 1676, the Marquise de Roussy de Sales shares the fruits of her labour below ground in the longest cellar in Beaujolais.

Her property may be steeped in history, but she's looking to the future by implementing methods of respectful agriculture in her huge vineyard of almost 100 hectares.

Right now though, like many winemakers across Europe, she's preparing for the busiest period of the year - the annual harvest.

Vineyards across this region of France are awash with a mixture of rush and excitement. But the pace is much slower at my base, the dreamy Chateau de Bagnols, a gem of a retreat in the heart of the Pierres Dorees region, just half an hour's drive from Lyon.

Tasting fine wines on a balcony of the historic fairytale castle, I admire jaw-dropping views of Mont Blanc in the distance - another taste of the high life.

While gaining access to | Chateau de Bagnols, above, and right is the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls of Lugdunum vineyards isn't always straightforward (prior appointments are generally required), zipping down to the Beaujolais region is easy on the Eurostar from London.

I start my weekend break in destination hub Lyon - just a five-hour journey from King's Cross.

The southern French city has a lot to shout about, including ancient landmarks such as the Amphitheatre of the Three Gauls of Lugdunum, an enticing climate and the small matter of being regarded as the French capital of gastronomy.

My tour guide in Lyon recounts a meeting with a councillor back in the 1960s, in which the dignitary was asked about his thoughts on attracting more tourists to the small city in the Rhone-Alpes region.

"Why should I want people coming here to drink our best wine?" was his response.

He had a point, and as I make the trip back to London clutching a few bottles of Beaujolais red, I am grateful that they are now more than happy to share the wealth.

| Doubles at Chateau de Bagnols are priced from [euro]249 with breakfast. Visit chateaudebagnols.com | Eurostar operates a direct service from London to Lyon, Avignon and Marseille. Fares start at PS44.50 one-way (based on a return journey). Visit eurostar.com or call 03432 186 186.

"Growing popularity of the Douro has done little to disturb a traditional way of life in villages such as Lamego"

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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Sep 25, 2016
Words:410
Previous Article:The grape escapes; As European vineyards prepare for their busiest season, SARAH MARSHALL recommends the top wine-themed weekends away.
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