The kids have Disneyland, Six Flags and Knott's Berry Farm (to name a few), so it seems only fair that adults should have something to call their own.

Thanks to the French, now they do. At least now wine lovers do.

It's called La Cité du Vin, and it's located, appropriately enough, in France's famed wine growing region of Bordeaux.

A sprawling ten-level facility dedicated to the living heritage of wine, La Cité du Vin includes digital, interactive exhibits that incorporate 3D technology and aroma diffusion, restaurants, tasting areas and a 250-seat auditorium for performances and screenings.

So yes, it is practically Disney for wine lovers (minus rollercoasters and Mickey Mouse).

Perhaps more properly though, the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé, calls La Cité du Vin his Guggenheim - a description meant to indicate that La Cité du Vin not only has aesthetic appeal (with its striking, contemporary architecture that represents the swirl of wine moving in a glass), but will ideally also help drive economic development for the region.

While Bordeaux already had an iconic position as a wine producing paradise, Juppé says it did not have an appropriately iconic venue paying tribute to an industry that has been a key part of region's wealth for centuries.

Now, that has been rectified.

Owned by the city of Bordeaux and opened just three months ago, La Cité du Vin is the only cultural center in the world offering such an all encompassing approach to learning about wine and its impact on history and civilization."

Forbes wine writer Brian Freedman, one of the lucky few who's already made a pilgrimage to La Cité du Vin, describes the experience as something far more engaging and accessible then a mere museum dedicated to wine.

"La Cité Du Vin helps create a common language," he explains. "Discussing wine is inherently difficult, because it involves taking something that's a personal experience and conveying it in a language that other people can understand...The information and experience at La Cité du Vin is accessible for people of all levels of wine knowledge."

Drawing inspiration from theme parks and museums, La Cité Du Vin is meant to be something far more unique then either of those examples.


Its permanent exhibition, on the second floor, is just one case in point.

Designed to be an immersive voyage of discovery into the world of wine - the exhibition allows each visitor to have a uniquely personalized experience, perceiving the universe and imagery of wine according to their personal feelings, tastes and interests.

There's 19 different themed spaces, the majority of which are interactive and designed to guide visitors on a journey through time and space via the evolution of wine and its civilizations from 6,000 B.C. to the present day.

One themed space, for instance, is a series of interactive globes inviting visitors to learn more about the spread of grape vines across the planet and the international wine trade.

Another tactile activity involves a sculpted landscape coming to life beneath visitors' fingers: maps and images appear, and 50 winemakers from ten wine regions all over the world share their secrets.

A space named "All Aboard," meanwhile, allows visitors to step aboard a 50-seater boat and embark upon a journey across history, following the galleys and barges of generations of wine merchants in their voyage to bring wine to the four corners of the earth.

"There is a great part of La Cité Du Vin where they have bell jars and you squeeze a rubber ball and stick your nose in an opening and get the aromas of various wines," says Freedman.

Yet another memorable part of the installation for Freedman involved "The Banquet of Legends" - a dinner table, that thanks to technology, is surrounded by illustrious historic figures such as Voltaire, Churchill, Napoleon and Colette, discussing their favorite wines.

For Freedman, who's done his fair share of travel as a journalist, La Cité Du Vin clearly is a standout.

"It's wholly unique in my experience in the realm of wine," he says. "There's a scotch whisky experience in Edinburgh that's really great, and a ramen museum in Japan, but the scale of La Cité Du Vin is so much bigger then anything else I've personally seen."

Bottom line, he says, La Cité Du Vin is definitely worth the trip, particularly if you're a wine lover. (Not to mention the fact that it's located in the region of Bordeaux, a place worth at least a week of any self-respecting wine and food lover's undivided attention.)

And did we mention La Cité Du Vin's wine bar?


"The wine bar is fantastic," says Freedman. "You could spend days there alone, just working your way through the different wines from around world." 
Enough said.

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