This could be the happiest place on earth, at least for adults.
In A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, the English author said wine flowed in the streets of Paris. France is making this description come true with La Cité du Vin, or the City of Wine, “a unique place devoted to the cultures of wine.”
‘The City of Wine’
In what could be the Disneyland for adults and wine lovers, the new wine-themed park is opening its doors to the public on 1 June 2016. Located on the banks of the Garonne River in Bordeaux, the theme park is mainly a museum, but with a number of exhibition shows, movie screenings, seminars, and activities all relating to wine.
The whole complex includes 20 themed areas and exhibit split over 10 levels in a museum-like fashion. In true theme park style, there’s a 250-seater auditorium for classes and screenings, a boat ride simulator, and more–most of which are interactive.
If ever you visit the park with a hangover, there’s a huge plush chair where you can rest and listen to famous stories of inebriation.
For the non-French-speaking visitors, the park offers a digital guide that delivers much-needed park information in real time, available in eight languages.
The park is expected to welcome close to 450,000 visitors every year.
‘Capturing the Spirit of Wine’
Designed by the Bordeaux architect group XTU Architects and English museum design experts Casson Mann Limited, the whole structure looks like a decanter, fitting for a city of wine located in city known for its excellent wines.
The design symbolizes the swirling of wine in a decanter, as well as the coiling of grapevines as they grow on wood posts.
“Their design captures the spirit of wine and its fluid essence: ‘a seamless curve, intangible and sensual’,” La Cité du Vin said in a press release.
The opening on June comes following almost seven years of construction and €81 million in funding. The theme park is a first-of-its-kind in France, as more than 80% of its funding came from public sources and the rest from private companies.
Touring the City
It wouldn’t be a true wine city without a tour.
Known as ‘The Wine Routes’, these wine tours will take visitors to some of the region’s renowned vineyards, with tasting events along the way. There’s also a permanent tour that will take visitors on a journey to learn about wine, its evolution, and its civilizations.
“The permanent tour is structured around an array of different experiences: sometimes visitors will be standing, interacting directly with the e-vine or Meet the Experts. At other times they will be seated, or ushered All Aboard a ship for a voyage across the oceans and through the age. At certain moments they will need to be almost horizontal to marvel at the starry projections of artworks illustrating the theme of Bacchus and Venus,” according to a brochure provided by the city.
A Cultural Center of Wine
It’s only fitting that the first wine-themed park is in Bordeaux, the world’s major wine industry capital; and as such, wine drinking still comes first. There are expert-led wine tasting sessions, while a panoramic Belvedere wine saloon, a restaurant and a tapas bar, and a boutique selling bottles from 80 countries sit atop the building’s top two storeys.
There’s also the “tasting experience,” a multi-sensory experience that features 3D images, moving sets, and the smell of wines and its flavour profiles.
The goal of the experience and the theme park as a whole is to make La Cité du Vin the largest cultural center of wine in the world, says director Philippe Massol. Basically, a Guggenheim for wine lovers.
Just like Disneyland, the theme park offers accommodations for visitors. There’s a six-room wine-themed mansion and restaurant that houses 168 Grands Crus classes in their cellar. The mansion’s two-star Michelin star restaurant specialises in haute Bordelaise cuisine, under the management of renowned French chef Pierre Gagnaire.
Outside the complex, local establishments also celebrate the fame, culture, and wines of their region. The biannual Bordeaux Wine Festival, for example, happening on 23-26 June this year, is known for its 80 wine pavilions of endless lines of swaying drinkers.
À votre santé, La Cité du Vin!